Is re-using content a good or a bad thing to do?

Today’s BBC News Web site has a piece on Ofsted re-using sentences in more than one school inspection report:

An investigation has begun into claims that Ofsted approved “cut and paste” inspection reports using identical sentences and phrases…both reports say: “Some teachers do not plan learning for pupils at their different levels of ability and marking is not leading to improvement.”
Both reports make comments about the low attainment of pupils in reading, writing and maths which vary by just a few words.

‘Cut and paste’ Ofsted report claims

Clearly it’s wrong if if a report has been put together with little thought, or if it contains information that is incorrect, irrelevant or inappropriate.

However, if the information the writer wants to convey has been said before, surely having access to a collection of re-usable sentences is a good thing?


One Comment


When i worked in R&D, the term for standardized text used in proposals and reports that were often reused for different project sponsors and potential sponsors was called “boilerplate”. It was necessary information about the organization, test methods and equipment, and even biographies of key staff members that was often needed in new documents. If a consulting firm or accrediting organization does audits or reviews of schools or hospitals or whatever, they usually have standardized ways of describing what doesn’t measure up to the given standards they are evaluating an organization’s competence against. If two schools show the same kind of deficiency, I would expect them to be described the same way. No one expects them to use creative writing or different terms for every report..

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