School chief’s letter condemned as “tripe dissolved in twaddle”

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A SCHOOLS boss sent parents a letter so baffling it has been described as “tripe dissolved in twaddle”.

Michael Wood, director of education for Dundee Council, tried to explain catchment area changes to parents in a series of letters.

But Mr Wood has been condemned by plain English campaigners for his incomprehensible writing.

One paragraph contained more than 80 words, used the word ‘catchment’ five times, contained two semicolons and the word “redelineation”.

Mr Wood, who is thought to earn a six-figure salary although to council declined to revel his wage, was accused of losing parents in “a deluge of jargon and gobbledygook”.

The opening part of one of Mr Wood’s sentences reads: “The closure of the Menzieshill High School and the redelineation of the catchment area of Harris Academy to include Menzieshill High School’s existing catchment area within Dundee…”

 

Michael Wood - Dundee council
Michael Wood, director of education for Dundee Council has been condemned by plain English campaigners for his incomprehensible writing.

 

Liam Reddington from the Plain English Campaign, said: “Plain English gives us the best chance to read, understand and if necessary, act in information the first time we read it.

“Michael Wood has clearly misunderstood both the purpose of the writing and the audience it is aimed at.

“In this context, writing should clearly inform and not confuse with words such as ‘redelineation’ and also complex sentence construction.

“The message is lost in a deluge of jargon and gobbledygook and therefore the writing is not fit for purpose.

“It is tripe dissolved in twaddle.”

More letters sent by Mr Wood about a consultation for parents have also been criticised for the use of “obscure” language.

Labour’s education spokesman, Laurie Bidwell, said he hopes the education department will send out alternative leaflets that are easier to understand.

He continued: “Both the letters and the longer documents are a real challenge to read through.

“The letters take a long time to get to the point.

“Some of the terms used used are also a bit obscure.

“For example was it really necessary to use a word like ‘redelineation’ of the catchment areas when ‘change’ the catchment area would have been clearer?

“The council could improve on its clarity of communication. with all those it wants to be involved in these four consultations.”

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The consultation process, including letters to parents and carers, on each of the four school estate proposals must follow the legal guidance as set out in the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

“Each letter encourages anyone who wants to express their views on the proposals to put their views in writing to Mr Michael Wood.”

Last year Edinburgh City council was awarded the Plain English Golden Bull prize for ‘the worst examples of written tripe’ in its ‘Programme Momentum Report’.

The report was full of incomprehensible sentences including: “The case review workstream has been established which now includes the legacy Joule case reviews and the deferred case reviews.

“Activity to date has included amendments to the case review deliverables to make them appropriate for deferred cases.

“Work is now progressing on the re-programming and re-prioritisation of the case reviews and confirming the number of cases to be reviewed by Deloitte and the internal CEC team.”

The current holder of the campaign’s Foot in Mouth prize is comedian Russell Brand for his “seemingly endless stream of gibberish, both written and verbal”.

George W Bush clinched the title for his infamous statement: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

While in Silvio Berlusconi, Former Italian President, was reconginsed for comments including: “I am pretty often faithful” and, on Obama’s election as US President: “Handsome, young and also suntanned”.
Michael Wood: Extract from letter:

The closure of the Menzieshill High School and the redelineation of the catchment area of Harris Academy to include Menzieshill High School’s existing catchment area within Dundee; and to transfer that part of Harris Academy’s catchment area, which comprises the catchment area of Rosebank Primary School to Morgan Academy’s catchment area and make Morgan Academy the associated secondary school of Rosebank Primary School; and to make Baldragon Academy the associated Dundee secondary school of Longforgan, Inchture, Abernyte, Auchterhouse, Birkhill and Liff Primary Schools from August 2016.

A translation:

The council is making changes to Dundee school zones.

Menzieshill High School will close and Harris Academy will take pupils from that catchment area.

Pupils from Rosebank Primary will go to Morgan Academy instead of Harris Academy.

Pupils from Longforgan, Inchture, Abernyte, Auchterhouse, Birkhill and Liff primaries will go to Baldragon Academy.

The changes are planned for August 2016.

 

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