School bans Stormzy lyric ‘oh my days’ in weird crackdown on slang terms

A school has banned the use of slang terms such as ‘cuss’ and ‘oh my days’ in an effort to raise literacy standards.

Ark All Saints academy in the London Borough of Southwark has drawn up a list of phrases that students cannot use in the classroom or in written work.

Some of these include ‘that’s a neck’, ‘wow’, ‘that’s long’, ‘bare’ and ‘he cut his eyes at me’, the Daily Mail reports.

The phrase ‘oh my days’ in particular has become very popular in the last few years, appearing in Stormzy’s lyrics, while also inspiring a line of t-shirts after finding fame when used by footballer Jeremie Frimpong in a post-match interview when playing for Celtic.

At the same time, fillers such as ‘ermmm’, ‘like’, ‘basically’ and ‘you know’ have been prohibited from being used at the beginning of sentences.

Lucy Frame, the school’s principal, told the Guardian: “None of the words or phrases listed is banned from general use in our school or when our students are interacting socially.

“But this list is used in some formal learning settings to help students understand the importance of expressing themselves clearly and accurately, not least through written language in examinations.”

A survey in 2019 found that slang was the most common reason behind English GCSE failures.

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However, Dr Marcello Giovanelli, senior lecturer in English at Aston University, said: “Dismissing students' home or own use of language may have negative effects on identity and confidence.”

Tony Thorne, a language consultant at King’s College London and the director of the Slang and New Language Archive, said it wasn't about “good or bad” language but rather about “appropriate language” for the learning environment.

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