Primary-school pupils in England have been sitting a new grammar, spelling and punctuation test (check out the specimen questions) as part of their final year assessment. Teachers have criticised the test, saying that there are better ways of assessing pupils’ English-language skills:
Grammar is vital but you test someone’s writing skills by examining their writing. Just because you can circle an adverb on a multiple choice test doesn’t mean you can use one properly. This test distracts us from teaching a generation to write clearly and elegantly.” (Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers)
The government position, voiced by Education Minister Elizabeth Truss (no relation to Lynne, it seems) is that many children struggle with the basics of the English language at primary school and never catch up.
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.”
Test your grammar skills
If you’d like to test your own grammar skills, here’s a quick grammar quiz, courtesy of the BBC. A word of advice: it’s trickier than the new primary-school test, so read the questions carefully (remember your teachers saying that at school?).
Disclosure: I got two questions wrong, giving me a score of 8/10 (which still makes me a “Grammar Guru”. Phew!).
What do you think about grammar: is it important to teach it? And to test it?
More posts about grammar, spelling and punctuation:
By Marian Dougan