The Department for Education has announced a new English grammar, punctuation and spelling test for pupils in Year Six. From 2013, the statutory test will replace the current English writing test that forms part of the National curriculum tests taken at the end of Key Stage 2.
Changes will also be made to GCSEs, so that from 2013 there will be marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar in key subjects.
The new Key Stage 2 test will assess:
(handwriting may also be included – this will be determined later in the year following trials)
One thing that seems to be apparent from the sample questions is that children will be required to know a lot of grammatical terms to enable them to do well in the test (adverb, subordinate clause, suffix, active v passive voice etc.).
The National Association for the Teaching of English has said that a revised focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation will “impoverish” teaching and turn pupils off the subject, claiming that grammar is best taught in context rather than through formal exercises. This is an argument that will surely be supported by others, as the question of whether formal grammar is an effective way of teaching children to write is a longstanding debate.
The new test reflects the Government’s beliefs that ‘children should have mastered these important aspects of English by the time they leave primary school, and that appropriate recognition should be given to good use of English throughout their schooling’.
Earlier this year a CBI survey of more than 500 firms showed that 42% were dissatisfied with school leavers’ use of English and 12% of employers provided remedial literacy training for graduates. Hopefully this new test in its final format can provide the basis for addressing these weaknesses.
Examples of the format of test questions can be found here