Teachers ‘don’t know enough grammar to teach curriculum’

Many teachers do not have adequate knowledge of English grammar to teach the new curriculum, according to the architect of a government-funded teaching programme. This is from the Times

Bas Aarts, a professor of English linguistics at University College London, is designing Englicious, an online tool that will give schools access to one of Britain’s biggest databases of the English language.

He said that the English tests for pupils up to the age of 14 introduced by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, demanded more knowledge of grammar than many teachers possessed. “Many teachers feel uncomfortable with grammar and don’t know how to use it formally,” he said.

Englicious, which is based on millions of examples of English expressions, from text messages to recordings of BBC broadcasts, is intended to help to make up the shortfall with sentences taken from real life…

The skills gap was not the fault of the teachers, he added, but rather the fault of a historic bias against formal grammar in the education system. “There was a point in the 1960s when the Government said that schoolchildren didn’t need to learn any grammar because it inhibits their creativity. Now that’s changing very rapidly,” he said.

“I was speaking to a former student of mine who’s now head of English at a school in southern England and he was interviewing a prospective colleague and asked how he would go about teaching the prepositions and he didn’t know what a preposition was.”

…Joe Walsh, an interim director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, who is also working on the Englicious project, said that some teachers might not have the necessary technical knowledge but it was impossible to make generalisations. “I would not say that there would be a skills gap for an entire generation,” he said.

Teachers could be “intimidated” by the emphasis on structure in the new tests “because of the high-stakes nature of the testing regime [and] the grammar tests at the end of Year 6, it’s understandable that some teachers may feel a little bit intimidated by it”…

More at:  Teachers ‘don’t know enough grammar to teach curriculum’ (subscription required) 

Do you agree that some teachers feel uncomfortable teaching grammar for the new tests, especially at key stage 3? If so, what kind of support would be most valuable? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

Literacy: Fewer children reading in spare time, research suggests
Prestigious private school risks charity status over insufficient measures to widen access
Categories: Teaching.


  1. noreb_el

    SchoolsImprove most of my grammar knowledge comes from learning MFL (particularly German.) We were never taught English grammar in 80s/90s.

  2. thecareerbible

    SchoolsImprove Grammer are impertant – espesshly when you apli 4 job. Teachers know enough grammar. No one knows what present perfect means

  3. artmadnana

    SchoolsImprove I found this in mentoring student placements. One lass didn’t know the function of the pronoun. Began to teach it wrongly.

  4. artmadnana

    SchoolsImprove when I interrupted became indignant saying she had looked it up the night before so knew she was right. Stopped mentoring!

  5. CafeMenuSystems

    helenbowen1 SchoolsImprove Every page of my son’s school website spells St William’s incorrectly. I dispair.

Let us know what you think...