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Pupils to sit new grammar test this week

15/05/2013 Kelly
A new test being sat for the very first time aims to demonstrate how successful primary school teachers have been in their efforts to improve their pupils' grammar.

Official statistics for writing in 2012 indicated that 17 per cent of seven-year-olds were below the expected level, rising to 23 per cent of all 11-year-olds.

Shortcomings in this area can detrimentally affect pupils later on in life, with the Confederation of British Industry's 2011 skills survey indicating that over 40 per cent of employers were dissatisfied with the basic literacy of school and college leavers.

As part of efforts to tackle this problem, 600,000 11-year-olds will this week sit the new spelling, grammar and punctuation test, comprising a 45-minute grammar test and a 15-minute spelling test.

This will gauge pupils' ability to use grammar correctly, including usage of subordinate clauses and connectives, to punctuate sentences appropriately, including using colons, ellipses and apostrophes, properly and to spell some of the most commonly misspelt words.

Education minister Liz Truss commented: "Many children struggle with the basics of the English language at primary school, then don't catch up at secondary school.

"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."

The Standards and Testing Agency evaluated the test in March and deemed that it was rigorous, in line with international best practice and asked the appropriate questions for assessing children's grammar, punctuation and spelling skills.

Grammar and spelling are also heavily prioritised in the government's draft primary school English curriculum, which will be introduced in 2014 and aims to emulate the curricula of some of the world's leading education jurisdictions, such as Singapore, Massachusetts in the US and Alberta in Canada.

However, while the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) agreed with the need to promote grammatical, spelling and punctuation skills, it questioned whether these new tests were the best way of achieving this.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby argued that it was instead better for primary teachers to examine children's grammar and spelling across their portfolio of work for year six, in order to measure how they use these skills in context, rather than in abstract.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801585782-ADNFCR
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