'Laughable' political correctness as new primary not called school

SHEFFIELD'S newest primary has opened to controversy - after banning the word "school" from its title.

Watercliffe Meadow, which has replaced Shirecliffe, Busk Meadow and Water-mead infants and juniors, has decided not to call itself a school because of "negative connotations" of the word, its headteacher said.

Instead Watercliffe Meadow - where the pupils are allowed to wear slippers instead of shoes - is to be called a "place of learning".

Headteacher Linda Kingdon told The Star: "We decided from an early stage we didn't want to use the word 'school'.

"This is Watercliffe Meadow - a place for learning. One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school.

"Instead we want this to a be a place for family learning, where anyone can come.

"We were able to start from scratch and create a new type of learning experience. There are no whistles or bells or locked doors. We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life."

But the idea was slammed by the Campaign for Plain English.

Spokeswoman Marie Clair said: "It's laughable. Maybe the teachers should be at home as well, putting their feet up with a pint of beer or glass of wine.

"Do they think by changing the name they are going to change the environment?

"We all know what the building is. There is this whole political correctness agenda. Using unfamiliar words instead of a simple one, like 'school', will get in the way of children's ability to learn."

Sheffield Central MP Richard Caborn added: "I'm always open to new ideas but the reality is education is about preparing young people to live in the real world.

"Some people will have had a poor experience at school, but others will have had a very good one. Some people would question whether this approach gives the necessary discipline, and best prepares children for life after school."

Sheffield Council cabinet member for children's services Coun Andrew Sangar said: "It's a school, we consider it a school and that's how we refer to it."

But added: "How a school chooses to manage and refer to itself is a matter for the board of governors and the community it serves, and we're relaxed about that."

Mum Kimberley Dunne, aged 26, of Southeyhall Road, Shirecliffe, criticised the decision as "too politically correct".

She said: "They should call it a school - a school's a school. Seriously. The word school doesn't have negative connotations, it's just where you go. A school's always been a school, why change it?"

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