Midlands primary school bans pupils from using Black Country dialect

The Telegraph is reporting that a Midlands primary school has been accused of snobbery after banning pupils from talking or writing in their “damaging” Black Country dialect…

Staff have drawn up a list of ten offending phrases after introducing the “zero tolerance” policy against the use of local words.

The controversial ruling was announced in a letter to parents claiming the harsh crackdown would “get children out of the habit” of speaking the way their parents do.

But parents and local residents have criticised the move by Colley Lane Primary School, in Halesowen, West Mids, as “snobbish”.

The ban comes two months after a study was published claiming that accents from the Birmingham area make people seem less intelligent and untrustworthy.

Outlawed phrases now include “I cor do that” instead of “I can’t do that” and “It wor me” instead of “it wasn’t me.”

The letter, which was posted to parents last Thursday, said: “Recently we asked each class teacher to write a list of the top ten most damaging phrases used by children in the classroom.

“We are introducing a ‘zero tolerance’ in the classroom to get children out of the habit of using the phrases on the list.

“We want the children in our school to have the best start possible: Understanding when it is and is not acceptable to use slang and colloquial language.

“We value the local dialect but are encouraging children to learn the skill of turning it on and off in different situations.”

Parent reacted angrily, claiming that the Black Country ban was “insulting.”

…Yesterday the school, which caters for 592 pupils aged 4-11, defended outlawing local dialect saying Black Country words and phrases contributed to a “decline in standards.”

Headteacher John White said: “If they can’t say it, it is likely they can’t read it, and even less likely they can write it.

“We value the dialect but we want to encourage children to learn when to use and when not, like for a job interview. It is, of course, fine to use in other situations and we would celebrate that.”

The school was rated as either Good or Outstanding in a Ofsted inspection report in 2010.

More at:  Midlands primary school bans pupils from using Black Country dialect

Thoughts on this? Should schools stop children speaking their local dialect or is this approach, in your opinion, misguided? Please let us know in the comments, on twitter and by taking part in our poll… 

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Categories: Primary.


  1. weski

    SchoolsImprove Imagine banning the idiosyncrasies immigrant children bring to the language. It would rightfully be labeled racist.

  2. wordbadger

    SchoolsImprove an all round ban seems a bit heavy handed considering they have stated they want students to learn about lang in context

  3. SuperChowChow

    wordbadger SchoolsImprove Banning is absurd. Code switching is invaluable for teachers & students. Language is too nuanced for gimmicks.

  4. jesssclifford

    g56g Hi Gill, I was just wondering can I use this quote for an article I’m writing for uni? I’m a journalism student writing about the ban

  5. g56g

    jesssclifford of course you can, in context of course! Dialect is essential, so is using and understanding St Eng. Its what teachers do!

  6. jesssclifford

    g56g Thank you! I completely agree with you as previously I was an English student and I personally find the ban really wrong

  7. rehpotsirhcmij

    SchoolsImprove Zero tolerance? It’s a linguistic habit, not a life-threatening activity. The use of such a cliché is far more offensive.

  8. Penfold_5

    LiterateGrumpy SchoolsImprove I don’t speak Yorkshire at work; I didn’t teach Yorkshire when abroad. Being able to communicate is key.

  9. artmadnana

    weski SchoolsImprove normally I would agree but the Black Country dialect is nigh on impossible to understand despite its proud history.

  10. weski

    artmadnana SchoolsImprove so you’d also be happy to ban say Bengali English accent & idioms from school if you found them difficult? 1/2

  11. weski

    artmadnana SchoolsImprove It’s a lazy solution. Much better to explain local expression in standard English & celebrate regional culture

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