What do "delivery", "safeguarding", "integrated working", "targeted services" and "ECM" have in common – aside from their leaden effect on the ear? They are among the expressions that the Education Secretary wants to ban from his department. And an excellent ambition it is, too. If Michael Gove has a bit of a blind spot where numbers are concerned – his attempts to slash the school buildings programme showed an imperfect command of the arithmetic – he seems admirably at home with words.
But there are two questions, as we see it, to be asked. First, how will he communicate with an education establishment that talks to itself almost exclusively in such jargon? Can his department, in its cash-strapped state, run to remedial English classes? And second: will the translation be any better? The early evidence is not promising. For "targeted" read "fairer" services. For "ECM", (that's Every Child Matters to the rest of us), read "help children to achieve more". For "safeguarding" read "child protection". The risk is that, in replacing terms that, in Mr Gove's view, "reek too strongly of Labour", the new lexicon is tinged in blue. What's wrong with plain English – the sort that you don't have to be either a civil servant or a politician to understand?