Up to 600,000 schoolchildren will be required to sit a new exam in spelling, punctuation and grammar amid fears that almost a quarter of pupils are starting secondary education with substandard literacy skills. This is from the Telegraph…
For the first time next week, all 11-year-olds in England will be tested on 20 commonly misspelt words such as “separate”, “preferred” and “necessary”, it was revealed.
The exam – part of the annual round of SATs tests – will also cover the correct use of punctuation, including colons and apostrophes, and ensure that pupils apply grammatical rules such as subordinate clauses and a range of connectives.
The move comes amid concerns that the basics were neglected under the last government, with too many pupils struggling to write accurate sentences and structure essays properly.
Some of the worst spelling mistakes from old-style writing exams – based on a piece of prose – have included “tareybul” for terrible, “unyoushil” for unusual, “rtecker” for article and “avelerbilltey” for availability.
England’s main classroom unions have attacked the test, insisting it will heap extra pressure on young children and force teachers to drill pupils to pass.
The National Union of Teachers is investigating the possibility of boycotting the exam altogether next year.
But Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said too many children “struggle with the basics of the English language at primary school, then don’t catch up at secondary school”.
A sample writing test carried out last year found 23 per cent of 11-year-olds failed to reach the expected standard for their age group – equating to around 125,000 children.
She added: “That is why employers bemoan the poor literacy of so many school and college leavers.
“This new test will mean that children are again taught the skills they need to understand our language, and to use it properly, creatively and effectively.”
Previously under Labour, pupils were given a writing test covering a simple piece of prose, but it was scrapped because of concerns over poor marking.
Next week, pupils will take the new spelling and grammar test alongside a reading and maths exam.
It will be made up of a 45-minute grammar test and a separate 15-minute spelling exam covering 20 words.
Pupils will be expected to recognise the difference between formal and non-standard English, in response to concerns that too many youngsters rely on so-called “text speak”.
The exam will also focus on the grammatical functions of words, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions.