The Times is reporting that the president of a body that represents leading independent girls’ schools has said many teachers have no grounding in grammar or English language and are woefully ignorant of classic literature…
Alice Phillips, who is head of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), says that some enthusiastic teachers are “completely at sea” with many aspects of proper usage of language.
“Some of our brightest English literature teachers are, frankly, unversed in much pre-20th century literature,” Ms Phillips writes.
Of her school, St Catherine’s in Bramley, Surrey, she says: “Many of our brightest, most enthusiastic teachers have little or no grounding in English language or grammar, through no fault of their own, and are completely at sea with many aspects of proper usage.
In the Times Educational Supplement article Ms Phillips writes: “Wide reading and a familiarity with formal expression and grammar work to a certain extent, but won’t help you in front of a class of 14-year-olds when you are tasked with delving into the mysteries of subordinate clauses.
“We put in place an English grammar course for our Year 7 intake, after identifying a cross-curricular need for this in native, modern and classical languages. It has paid huge dividends.
“Some of our younger teachers have not been taught English grammar in the 1990s and 2000s, when they were at school themselves, and consequently they feel less confident as they teach as relatively new learners themselves.”
Ms Phillips says many younger teachers are unfamiliar with aspects of the new GCSE English curriculum, which requires a Shakespeare play, a 19th-century novel, poetry since 1789, and fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards.
“How are we to bridge the confidence gap?” she asks. “I hasten to add that I believe that they are more than equal to these challenges. They just haven’t been tasked with them before.”…
She adds: “Teachers all over the country are signing up for hastily arranged training courses in the new curricula and burning the midnight oil to prepare themselves. That they strive to be prepared is good — and so typical of so many of the teachers I work alongside — but it is not enough…”
More at: Teachers ‘ignorant of grammar and literature’ (subscription required)
Alice Phillips seems to be attacking the system rather than the teachers, but do you agree with her suggestion that many teachers lack understanding of the proper use of language and that this could be an issue with the new curriculum? Please give us your thoughts and feedback…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!