Cripes! No exclamation allowed!

The Sunday Times is reporting that seven-year-olds who have grown up in a world of social media have been told to curb their use of exclamation marks in new rules for grammar tests this summer. 

The paper is suggesting that “teachers are up in arms” over the latest guidance about when children should use an exclamation mark, claiming it is “old-fashioned, unhelpful — and possibly wrong”.

However, the background to the issue is said to be a belief amongst ministers that young children are overusing exclamation marks as a result of usage in texts and social media.

According to the paper, the new guidance says teachers will only be able to mark sentences ending in exclamation marks as correct if they begin with “How” or “What”.

However, the paper notes criticism of the guidance from Professor John Sutherland of University College London who is quoited:

“I think the guidance is ridiculous. It is quite impossible to follow these instructions…

“Exclamation marks are interpretative and they depend on knowing the contextual situation in which the speech takes place. ‘Cripes! Yikes!’ Boris Johnson lives by exclamation marks. If you ruled them out, poor old Boris would be deflated like a collapsed balloo­n. 

“It is nonsense of the highest degree. I am not surprised teachers wearily sigh when these instructions come down from Whitehall.”

Meanwhile teachers are said to be worried the new guidance runs the risk of being old fashioned and discouraging children from being creative. 

More at: Cripes! No exclamation allowed! (subscription may be required)


What do you think? Is the use of the exclamation mark getting out of hand amongst children in their writing and is the government right to try and prune it back?

Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Policy and Primary.


  1. Sunday Times is a bit slow – Schools Week ran this story in the middle of February.

  2. thiskidsthinkin

    …sigh… As long as children are expressing themselves and writing sentences that make sense, does it matter? Language is evolving!

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Nick Gibb claimed on Twitter that it was nonsense yet he’s a leading minister in the dept that have imposed it. Baffling

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