"Neutrally accented" English, as Geoffrey Cartridge describes it, seems to me to be a pie in the sky. Any definition of the term will be wholly subjective and unreliable as a means of legislating any sort of practical policy, at any scale. Simply because Cartridge was told he has "neutrally accented" English by one person doesn't mean someone else would say the same of him.
It is precisely because there's no possible way of establishing such a standard that children ought to be exposed to as many varieties of spoken English as possible, so that they may learn to remain vigilant while listening. I'd say the possibility of a student suffering for this is kept in check by an attentive teacher.
The reality is that, for quite some time to come, overcoming regional accents and grasping idioms (from flash-in-the-pan slang to oldies like "pie in the sky") will be aspects of communicating in English.
I would think that a student exposed to one kind of English exclusively, even Cartridge's "neutrally accented" strand, would have less of a handle on the language than one exposed to a variety of styles.
I'd like to add that reducing the end of English to a score on an examination is demeaning and detrimental to the language, its speakers, its teachers and its students.
Ryan Joseph Hudson
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