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Grammar tests introduced to improve literacy in schools

Graeme Parton

Children in primary schools across England are to sit additional grammar tests as part of a series of exams taking place next week.

The new test will ask more than 500,000 10 and 11-year-olds to spot nouns, pronouns, adverbs and adjectives. They will also be required to spell words which are commonly misspelt, such as ‘preferred’, ‘separate’ and ‘necessary’.

The test, which is made up of a grammar section lasting 45 minutes and a further 20-word spelling quiz which lasts 15 minutes, is being introduced as part of Sats, a series of exams taken by children in the final year of primary school. Pupils’ maths skills are also tested.

The government has said that pupils taking the test will be required to show their ability to use punctuation, such as apostrophes and colons, correctly.

Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said:

“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.”

Sats tests have, in the past, drawn criticism from teaching unions, and even sparked boycotts in 2010. Many have claimed the examinations force teachers to teach children simple how to pass the final tests and that marking is often unreliable.

National Association Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby said:

“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.”

While opinions are divided amongst education experts, the importance of correct grammar and spelling in the workplace is obvious. With businesses increasingly expected to present themselves online with high quality content, mistakes can be embarrassing and costly.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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