SchoolyMcSchoolFace may not be such a bad idea

WHAT’S in a name?

Well, the lesson from Shakespeare was that what we call something is nowhere near as important as what it actually is.

But the States spends a lot of time on what things are called, branding and image is very important to those sitting in seats of power, it’s just they are pretty bad at it.

It is why the official names of the committees are unfathomably unwieldy, why some public servants have job titles that you cannot say without drawing breath a couple of times, why you need to speak a language known properly only to a handful of residents to pronounce others.

And then when our representatives go away they found out that no one else understands what they do so they change their monikers accordingly.

Take our most senior politician.

He is the Policy & Resources Committee president, the chief minister or Le Prumier de Giernesi – try saying that last one after a couple of pints, or, actually, that might help.

Perhaps the ‘just call me Gavin’ approach would be better.

Incidentally, he had also decided to shun the description of Guernsey as a Crown Dependency, because it makes us sound, well, dependent, which is just what too many in the corridors of Westminster seem to think of us.

The States also obsessed with acronyms, which itself is a symptom of the ever more wordy strategy titles they come up with.

Perhaps we would all engage a bit more if everyone wasn’t so busy talking about the implications of the HTAs in the IDP and how it was all driven by SLUP. But is it E&I or DPA who should really so something about it? By the time you have worked it out you’ll probably be in need of help from the SLAWS [Supported Living and Ageing Well Strategy].

There must be a computer somewhere in Frossard House whose sole purpose is to spew these things out, civil servants who now only speak in three letter bursts while nodding sagely at each other and others cramming as many acronyms into a report as possible to befuddle their political masters.

Many States reports now need extended indexes just to translate Frossard House speak.

The names of the States committees, authorities, boards and commissions since the 106 election. Note the italics for the word for.

EDUCATION, Sport & Culture is in the midst of trying to come up with new names for its school and two colleges.

It has asked the public for suggestions – something which always goes well, particularly with the States penchant for ignoring what anyone else says anyway.

It took about the time it takes to cook up a spaghetti bolognese for someone to submit SchoolyMcSchoolFace – and why not, it says exactly what it needs to?

This, of course, is why the committee has only asked for suggestions, not said it would actually use any of them.

While you can almost understand why Education wants new names – a break from the past, a new system, a new way of doing things – you can’t help but think they are, as always, overcomplicating things.

Just think, you are at a big inter-school, sorry, college football game, with a team from Admiral James de Saumarez taking on Major-General Sir Isaac Brock.

Or maybe Victor Hugo versus Maria Rosetti.

Now try turning that into a decent chant.

But seriously, they all become unwieldy and impractical to use in everyday life.

In the running for the school name is the historically questionable Sarnia, which wouldn’t be great if we want our education system to be based around some sort of factual accuracy.

Now both the sites of the new colleges have names already, and ones everyone knows, and using them doesn’t run any danger of having to decide which historical Guernsey resident was the most worthy of having their name on thousands of uniforms for decades to come, or, indeed, which lighthouse.

But ESC is determined to make a clean break from anything that has gone before, it seems, to have their fingerprints all over the entire system.

There is plenty going on without agonising over this, but agonise we now have to.

I think we can all agree that actually getting the system to work should be what is exercising the minds of our deputies, and you can’t help but think going out to the public is more about being seen to do something, anything, that looks like both progress and engagement.

There have already been more than 600 responses, which is pretty incredible really, I’m hoping at least 550 of them were SchoolyMcSchoolFace, but suspect that some might be taking this far more seriously.

I’m just looking forward to the committee than asking everyone to design a few logos, or a public vote on what shade of green the jumpers should be.

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