Certain words have acquired a peculiar potency in primary education, and few more so than 'informal'. Never properly defined, yet ever suggestive of ideas and practices which were indisputably right, 'informal' was the flagship of the semantic armada of 1960s Primaryspeak, whose vessels, somewhat tattered now, are beginning to disappear over the educational horizon: spontaneity, flexibility, naturalness, growth, needs, interests, freedom, the whole, the seamless robe, the child's view of the world, thematic work, integration, individualisation, self-expression, discovery . . . and many more. On whither they are heading - for immortality, for oblivion, or for a refit - we shall have to await the verdict of history.