We launched this “On the Job” series to find out how people use English in their working lives. We talk to them about jargon in their profession, writing on the job and what advice they’d give to learners of English.


Clare Rooth

Clare Rooth


Who do you work for?
Clare Rooth: I am a volunteer governor at Clapham Manor Primary School and Children’s Centre.

What is your position?
I am joint vice-chair of Governors.  I was elected to the position of vice-chair by my fellow governors a year ago and will be up for re-election shortly.

How important is being able to speak/write good English in your job?
One of the jobs of the school governor is to review school policies to ensure that they are clear and easy to understand as well as providing guidelines for behaviour within the school.

Does your field have its own particular jargon? Could you share some of the more unusual terms with us?
The field of education is full of acronyms, such as ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), MFL (Modern Foreign Languages), SIPs (School Improvement Partners) etc.  There are many phrases that have a specific meaning in the education context, such as ‘Looked After Children’, which refers to children who are in the care of the Local Authority, rather than in the care of their own parents or ‘exclusion’ which can be temporary, i.e. the student is suspended from school for a fixed period of time or permanent, in which case the student is expelled from the school. In the latter case, the student may be transferred to another school or in a more serious case, to a Pupil Referral Unit, which is a special kind of school for very disruptive students.

Have any new terms been coined in your field recently? If yes, which?
Terms such as ‘safeguarding’, which has the very specific meaning of protecting children from abuse or neglect through best practice in recruitment and codes of conduct.

Do you ever ask another person to proofread your work? If so, in which circumstances?

What mistakes or phrases in English do you find most annoying? Why?
A very common mistake, which I find irritating, is the misspelling of ‘separate’.

What advice would you give to learners of English to help them improve their English in the workplace?
I would recommend joining a conversation class or club, watching English films and reading English books and newspapers.

Would you like to add anything you think our readers would find interesting?
Learn more about the UK education system and the role of school governors on the Department for Education website or the Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) website.

Want to hear what some of the other interviewees said?  Head over to the On the Job series home page here.