Toby Young wages war on teachers’ poor grammar in reports

The TES is reporting that the West London Free School multi-academy trust has hired proofreaders to eliminate spelling and grammar inaccuracies – along with bad writing – from end-of-year school reports.

The trust’s eponymous secondary prides itself on the rigour of its traditional, grammar-school-style education. But Toby Young, its founder and chief executive of the trust, believes that each of the reports written by his teachers includes at least half a dozen mistakes.

“These mistakes are just typical of people in their twenties and thirties,” Mr Young told TES.

 “Children are now taught grammar, punctuation and spelling, meaning that these kinds of errors are likely to decline in the next generation.”

The proofreaders were offered £20 an hour to read through the reports produced by schools in the trust: the original secondary, plus two nearby primaries. A single report takes between 10 and 15 minutes to read…

Mr Young has also instructed his proofreaders to watch out for overcomplicated sentences. “They often use three verbs where one would do,” he said…

For more on this story, get the 31 July edition of TES

More at: Toby Young wages war on teachers’ poor grammar in reports


We’ve had some articles recently bemoaning the quality of school reports, but none where schools have gone to these lengths to make things better.

What do you think? A sensible step to improve the quality of reports and communication with parents, or an unnecessary complication or use of funds?

Please let us know in the comments or via twitter.


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

Teenagers offered meningitis vaccine before university
Reading for pleasure 'boosts social relations'
Categories: Free Schools and Teaching.


  1. Nairb

    Well worth the money, Mr. Young. Publicity like this is often very expensive and £20 an hour is a bargain for a TES article and probably reports in other ‘aren’t teachers rubbish these days’ media.

  2. artmadnana

    SchoolsImprove no excuse I agree until you realise that most are computer generated. Not teachers fault but poor technology.

  3. Toby Young was instrumental in the ‘Bad Grammar Award’ – the first one was given to the letter signed by 100 academies opposing Gove’s curriculum reforms.

    But Oliver Kamm, who writes about grammar in The Times, says most of the pedants are wrong.  Pedantic sneering was more about class than correct or incorrect grammar, he wrote. 

    If the kind of grammar taught at WLFS is the same as pushed by the pedants, then shibboleths promoted by style guides which originated 200 years ago and which tried to force English to conform to Latin syntax will continue to cause unnecessary anxiety and provide a weapon by which condescending and smug ‘grammarians’ can prove their alleged superiority.  

    My review of Kamm’s book, ‘Accidence Will Happen: the non-pedantic guide to English usage’ is here:

Let us know what you think...