Grammar drama follows possessive campaigners’ leader’s verdict on apostrophe catastrophe


EDUCATION chiefs have been condemned for dropping the apostrophe from their own name.

Dundee Council’s Children and Families Service has been branded “shameful” for dropping the apostrophe after the letter “s” in “families”.

The Apostrophe Protection Society said it set a bad example that the body charged with educating children in the city was neglecting proper grammar.

The education department is refusing the reinstate the missing apostrophe, claiming “we have got more important things to worry about”.

John Richards, chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, which polices the appropriate usage of the mark, said: “Yes, ‘families’ should have an apostrophe because it refers to the service of or for children and families, and of and for are possessive.”

He added: “I wrote to the council as soon as I found out. I thought it was shameful that the apostrophe was missed out.

“What kind of message are they sending to their local teachers and pupils if they can’t get their own punctuation correct?”

But Mr Richards is not hopeful of winning this battle. “It’ll never be replaced,” he said. “It’s just like Waterstones. The apostrophe was removed from their name almost a year ago and never put back.

“Most weeks I receive complaints about local authorities, the media and web pages that have misused an apostrophe.”

Laurie Bidwell, Labour’s education spokesman on Dundee City Council, noticed the error and reported the matter to the Apostrophe Protection Society.

Councillor Bidwell said: “I asked Michael Wood, the executive director of the service, a question about punctuation.

“As executive director I asked why the service he heads apparently had decided to remove an apostrophe after the ‘s’ in Families in the title of the amalgamated service?

“As the head of the service that is responsible for the teaching of reading and writing in our schools, I think he should lead by example.”

Mr Bidwell had hoped not to bring the matter to committee but was left with no other choice after his concerns were ignored.

Dundee’s education convener Stewart Hunter thought the debate a waste of council time and money.

He said: “I can’t believe we spent so much time debating this at council.

“I have asked a number of people and they agree that Councillor Bidwell is in the wrong and we have it right.

“I can understand why people think the education department should be getting this right but we have got more important things to be worrying about.

“Let’s just get on with educating kids.

“If we had to change it there would be a cost and that money could be better spent in the classroom at a time when budgets are already tight.”

When asked how much it would cost to include the apostrophe, Dundee City Council said that it needed time to formulate a correct figure.