A few years ago, I had to do some proofreading for the school.
The material was the sixth form tutor reports that were about to be issued from our electronic reporting system for the first time. You might ask why I was proofreading them, and well you might. The teachers writing them had been asked to proofread each others, but had refused as “proofreading was not part of their job”. The position was that their own reports were perfect, so why should they have their time wasted proofreading someone else’s?
Bond’s opinion, to this very day, is that reports should be issued mistakes and all, so that the individual teachers who make the mistakes will be exposed for the illiterate morons they are. My opinion was that management should have told the teachers concerned to shut up and do their jobs. However, the school’s management, and the Head in particular, were unwilling to issue a diktat, but keen for the school not to look like it was staffed by nincompoops. This little dispute happened quite close to the deadline, so, one evening, I found myself proofreading.Joining me in this endeavour were one of our AHTs, the AHT’s secretary, Bond, and the facilities manager.
You will notice here that only 1 of the 5 people doing the proofreading was a member of teaching staff. Two were senior management. None had proofreading in their job description, the key tenet of the teachers’ objections. This meant that a motley crew of largely non-teaching staff were correcting reports written by apparently illiterate teachers, whose job most certainly includes writing reports about their students, yet apparently doesn’t include completing that task to any level of competence beyond “must try harder”.
I present for you now the most common mistakes, in order of occurrence:
- Not ending a sentence with a punctuation mark (full stop or otherwise)
- Not starting a sentence with a capital letter.
- ‘i before e’ spelling mistakes
- Incorrect uses of “your”/”you’re”
It’s worth noting that #1 occurred several hundred times. Even the number of instances of #4 was in double figures.
Now, I appreciate not everyone is such a skilled and venerable wordsmith as I, but on an academic report is does look very unprofessional to be making such basic errors. Admittedly, the reporting system does not have a grammar check. It does have a spell check. It also (allegedly) has at the controls a group of qualified teachers at a respected secondary school rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted. These people are not idiots, but you would be hard-pressed to form that opinion if you were to judge them on their childlike mastery of English.
The icing on the cake? This proofreading session was taking place at 6pm on Friday night, at the exact time that most of the staff, illiterate morons included, were arriving at the annual Christmas party. Our drafting as proofreaders was decided solely on the basis that we were the ones without plans that night.
I lost a lot of respect for our teachers that day.