English: the rot is at the top

Heard just now, on Radio 4’s PM programme:

..a similar level of disquiet was expressed..

The speaker was a man called Mike Tomlinson, hauled in to comment on the “controversy” about exam grades not actually going up, for once. The main issue appears to have been in relation to the English GCSE. Mike investigated something similar a few years ago, and has a long professional history in exams, education and so forth, hence his reference to the previous episode.

My beef though, is his English. I would suggest that you don’t express a level of disquiet. You express disquiet.

Pernickety and anal retentive, you might think, and fair enough. However, if the concern is the fine detail of marking an English exam, then I would hope for less of the sloppy and pompous phrasemaking, and a more reassuring use of the Queen’s English. I’m not the only one.

Happily our Education Secretary cares, as is evident in this exchange with posh Labour twerp, Tristram Hunt, a couple of years ago:

Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central, Labour)

Is the Secretary of State aware that figures from his department show that academy schools are, on average, teaching one third less GCSEs in history and geography than schools in the maintained sector, and are often inflating their grades through the use of GCSE equivalents? If that is to be the model for the future, what steps is the Secretary of State taking to ensure that academic subjects are protected in academies?

Michael Gove (Secretary of State, Education; Surrey Heath, Conservative)

Like the hon. Gentleman, I am committed to academic excellence, so I should point out that he should have said “fewer”, not “less”

Nice one.

Michael Gove: very well read, actually.

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