Norwood’s Harris Academy school bans slang

Pic: Harris Academy

Pic: Harris Academy

An Academy in South London has banned slang used by pupils in an effort to improve the use of the English language.

Harris Academy, Upper Norwood, Croydon has banned slang such as “ain’t”, “innit” and “coz” to try to help students find future employment.

If students are heard to be using the banned language they are then asked to ‘reflect’ on it.

The academy in Upper Norwood is one of the 27 academies around London to be sponsored by the Harris Federation. However, this is the only school that has banned the use of slang.

Head teacher Christopher Everitt who took over the school in September, has taken a strict approach into transforming the Academy. He said: “I have been absolutely explicit that all teaching in this academy has to be good or better. Our students deserve that.”

Everitt introduced the list of 10 informal words forbidden in classrooms and corridors that are now considered ‘formal language zones’.

The banning of the words is a part of a ‘vision’, which seeks to raise awareness of the use of formal language and hopes it will prepare students for any formal situations they will face in later life.

A spokeswoman for Harris Academy Upper Norwood said:

“In addition to giving students the teaching they need to thrive academically, we want them to develop the soft skills they will need to compete for jobs and university places.”

“This particular initiative is just one of the many ways in which we are building the vocabulary of our students and giving them the skills they need to express themselves confidently and appropriately for a variety of audiences.”

The Academy’s move has been praised by Labour MP David Lammy, who told the Daily Mail:

“I think this is a very good idea. Speaking slang is fine in a social setting but as school should be a professional, educational environment and if part of that means banning slang than that’s fine by me.”

“Too often I see young people going into job interviews or writing cover letters without being able to use correct English. Any attempts to change that should be encouraged.”

The decision has had divided opinion amongst both students and parents. Abbie Sales, a student at Oasis Academy says “I think it’s silly because that’s just how some people are and sometimes you just can’t change that.”  Some parents are also opposed to it.

Susan Kane, a teacher in South Norwood, says: “I think it’s a great idea! First ban it in the schools and then get the parents to stop using slang! I work with children as young as four who use slang such as ‘innit’ and ‘extra’, it’s ridiculous, we need to stop this language or our schools will be full of young individuals who will not progress into brighter futures – we would have failed them miserably! Whatever happened to the English language?”


Leave a Reply