Advertiser columnist Ruth Wishart gives her reaction to the "back to basics" call issued by Hermitage Academy's head teacher.

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‘Back to basics’ is one of these slogans which sometimes has a nasty habit of biting you in the backside when you least expect it.

Famously, it was a rallying cry for John Major, who had barely extolled the virtue of family values and all that when a number of his ministerial colleagues were found to have been less than devoted to their marital vows.

(Indeed, Mr Major himself was subsequently found to have been having a relationship with Tory minister Edwina Currie which did not come under the heading of platonic.)

Now Hermitage Academy’s head teacher is planning to nail that same philosophy to the academic mast apparently in response to complaints about the quality of CVs being distributed by students.

However candidate selection is a lot more complex than the ability to turn out a perfectly grammatical, error-free resume – as most employers will tell you.

There are not a few illustrious captains of assorted industries out there who are strangers to correct spelling. And there’s absolutely no shortage of whizz kids in IT and adjacent fields who would have no little difficulty stringing two or three coherent sentences together.

I suspect part of the irritation over dodgy CVs is down to a generational divide. I speak as someone whose teeth are involuntarily gritted at the ubiquitous use of ‘done’ and ‘seen’ instead of ‘did’ and ‘saw’.

And don’t get me started on the galloping apostrophe. How many greengrocers’ signs offering ‘carrot’s’ and ‘potato’s’ do you have to see before you have the urge to batter the operative with his/her own signage?

There is one college academic of my acquaintance who routinely marked down student exam essays on the grounds that they were unacceptably ungrammatical and very poorly punctuated.

Since the degree course in question was psychology rather than literature, I did feel she should have been rather more preoccupied by the quality of the arguments offered than the incapacity to use full stops.

A letter to The Herald from a teacher, applauding the fact that she had been heartened by the judicious use of the colon and semi-colon in the exam papers she had just been marking, was swiftly followed a day later by a missive from another labourer at the chalk face.

When SHE saw that kind of punctuation, said the latter correspondent, she just assumed the text had been plagiarised from the internet.

The other thing for critics of current standards to bear in mind is that different occupations require different skill sets.

Clearly anyone in a public facing job needs the ability to communicate coherently and pleasantly.

Conversely, if anything of a vaguely technological nature packs up on my patch, I don’t care whether the help offered is monosyllabic, ungrammatical, or arrives via a series of largely unintelligible grunts.

I just want the bloody thing to work again.