Target: sound less Cumbrian … ONLY JOKING!

On Tuesday a rather bizarre article appeared in the papers, where a teacher in Cumbria apparently was told that she had an official target to sound less Cumbrian and more southern. A link to the article can be found here:

Now not to put a finer point on it, but how ridiculous is that? I would love to try and see a man from Newcastle trying to speak in a southern accent. Would be rather amusing ….

Well guess what? This was all a joke according to the teacher in question. The teacher apparently said it as a joke but apparently the union rep didn’t get the sense of humour in it and took it as fact and sparked this whole thing off. Standard unions then, getting things wrong as usual …

The chair of governors of a Berkshire school has dismissed a claim that a teacher was given an official target to sound “less Cumbrian”.

Teaching union NASUWT had claimed she had been told to tone down her accent during a recent Ofsted inspection at Whitelands Park Primary in Thatcham. Paul Dick said it was “simply not true” and the teacher was “mortified”. He said it had all stemmed from a joke made in front of union representatives in the staff room.

A spokesman for NASUWT said it would not comment further and the teacher has declined to be interviewed.

One of its union representatives, Paul Watkins, claimed to have learned last week that the target was set for the teacher by the school in response to a comment by an Ofsted inspector. He said the teacher had not made an official complaint to NASUWT and had taken the request in “good humour”.

But Mr Dick said: “The teacher concerned is mortified, the head’s very upset and the school’s sick of the whole thing because it’s simply not true.”

He said a meeting was held last week to discuss the proposal for the school becoming an academy, during which union representatives asked staff about a number of things, including targets. “This particular teacher made a joke – a staff room joke. [She said] ‘Oh, yeah, mine’s easy, there’s no problem with mine, I’ve just got to sort my accent out.’ She laughed, the others laughed, she got up and left, picked up her child and went home for the weekend and thought nothing more of it.”

A union representative had then emailed her and asked her to take it further, but she did not see the email until the Monday, Mr Dick explained. At that point she responded to say it was not true and that she did not want to be involved. Mr Dick said he had joined the head and the teacher to examine all the feedback documents from the inspectors, and the teacher’s performance targets. “There is no mention anywhere of accent,” he added.

A classic example of a joke taken out of context me thinks. While it’s quite amusing from the outside it’s not going to help the school much. Hopefully this will disappear quickly.


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