for expecting my son's school work to be marked by someone with a higher standard of english than him?

(56 Posts)
mostlyhappywithsomelowpressure Wed 16-Jan-13 19:42:22

My 7 yo son has lots of homework and one of the things he has is to make sentences from this week's spellings. It's a fun task and, though he gets wound up when he can't think of anything he works very hard at it and comes up with good stuff.

The work was initially (I believe) marked by the teacher and he was praised for using speech marks in part of it once, which I thought was a nice comment. But a few weeks in the writing changed. One week his name was spelt wrong (though it is on the front of the file the work comes in) but it is spelt unusually, a k instead of a c, I know it's confusing! Then another week it said 'be careful with you writting' WRITTING. I didn't say anything to that as my husband told me to leave it.

But today she has put 'Be carefully with your punctuation' and crossed out his speech marks which were in a totally relevant and acceptable place. Then she has put "can I come in" by way of exemplfying the correct use of speech marks. Now, if the use of speech marks is something they want to get away from so-be-it but 'be careFULLY' and to then not put the correct puntuation on her example of speech!!!!

I feel bad to criticise this woman but she is making my son feel like he's doing his work wrong (when he's just trying to do something a bit different) and she's really in no position to be doing so when she can't spell or use the correct tenses!!

And in case anyone thinks I might be slighting the abilities of a TA, I'm not, I am one and I would, rushed or not, make sure that if I were correcting or commenting on work, what I wrote was correct.

Shall I write to the teacher or just let it continue??

gimmecakeandcandy Wed 16-Jan-13 19:46:44

No way should you let this continue. That is shocking! Make an appointment with the teacher straightaway and give her examples and see what she has to say on the matter.

And let us know!

scurryfunge Wed 16-Jan-13 19:51:17

I would be asking why a T.A. Is marking homework.

They either are qualified as teachers and shouldn't be, or aren't qualified and shouldn't be marking homework. I would definitely challenge on this one.

Would you like me to correct your SPAG in the OP, or just in the title? wink

That does sound a bit crap, though. It's one thing for there to be a few typos like 'writting', but correcting him when he's correct already isn't fair.

OmgATalkingOnion Wed 16-Jan-13 20:01:03

Yanbu at all and I would def mention it.

'Careful with you writting' Blimey charliehmm.

TheNebulousBoojum Wed 16-Jan-13 20:24:29

Scurry, my TA marks work, and comments on it. She is an educated and intelligent person with excellent spelling and grammar.
OP, I agree that it's unacceptable for someone to make so many mistakes, I'd go in and ask the teacher to explain the comments and explain the low quality of them.
Which of course she won't be able to, or to justify.

phantomnamechanger Wed 16-Jan-13 20:24:55

it's not peer marking is it? I hate that with a passion! My 5 yo DD used to be furious that her Y6 reading buddy would write "god redding" week after week!

Ds is always having his spelling incorrectly marked by the kid he sits next to -

but if it is an adult, you need to say something and not let it go - could do better springs to mind!

mostlyhappywithsomelowpressure Wed 16-Jan-13 20:31:29

Thanks all. Feel less neurotic now.

LRDtheFeministDragon, please feel free to inform me of any corrections needed in my OP or title??!!! Is it the lack of capital letter? I thoroughly checked

As for why a TA is marking homework, I do not have a problem with that aspect if they are bright enough to be doing so. I am a TA as I said (a qualified FE teacher who decided to work with little ones and is now not in a position (for many reasons, including a non-curriculum degree) to get my QTS and be a proper teacher!!) and I have marked home work in the past :/

Thanks again.

TheNebulousBoojum Wed 16-Jan-13 20:33:04

Capital letter for English

Oh, I hadn't noticed the capital letter thing. I thought it was 'higher standard of English than he'.

I am only trying to illustrate that all of us make mistakes (leaving aside those in the main OP because, frankly, it's long and there's more than one). It's fair enough to say the TA should be checking more carefully than you'd check your work on a website, but still ...

mostlyhappywithsomelowpressure Wed 16-Jan-13 20:37:03

phantomnamechanger - definately not peer mentoring, unless they have outstanding handwriting :D

I was so tempted to write my own comments to her but that's seems a bit snotty so I haven't.

TheNebulousBoojum, i didn't even think to go in and pretend I thought it was the teacher who had marked it, that would put them in a difficult position. However if they tried to play the 'oh it was the TA' card, I am my own proof that that is irrelevant!! ;D

StuffezLaBouche Wed 16-Jan-13 20:43:04

My TA marks homework and some test papers, as does the Chair of Govs who volunteers in my class twice a week. Both highly educated people who are doing me a massive favour.

Yes, though. Anything going home needs be correctly spelled and punctuated, without a doubt. I would say something, personally. What if this TA (or whoever it is doing the marking) has to work in a small group or 1:1 with your ds?

echt Wed 16-Jan-13 20:44:47


The errors and comments made by the TA, presumably in handwriting, aren't the equivalent of typos; this person is not sufficiently in command of written English to do the job they're doing.

Write to the teacher. Give her/him specific examples, photocopies of the work. Emphasise that you don't want your DS identified. The teacher should be able to use the info to make her/his own check of the TA's marking. Which they should have been doing anyway.

If you don't get a result, and I mean an immediate response and plan of action, then write to the HT.

HollyBerryBush Wed 16-Jan-13 20:51:24

If you are going to criticise someones use of English then maybe you should look at your post - granted you aren't an English teacher any more than I am but ...*One week his name was spelt wrong* - it should be wrongly

FWIW my son has and English teacher with a PHD from Cambs, and my son corrects her comments correcting his work because he can Fortunately she has a sense of humour.

Again got to be honest with you FE teachers aren't fully qualified, those I've worked with, I generally have to rewrite all their correspondence and read over their out going mail. I admit Im a crap typist and on forums I pay scant regard to punctuation or capitalisation and indeed I type as I would speak but standards of literacy are falling all over.

I think they're like typos - why not? confused

You can make an error writing as well as typing.

didireallysaythat Wed 16-Jan-13 20:51:57

We had homework come back one week with "Please check your speling"

I assumed the teacher is just playing games with me....

Jojobump1986 Wed 16-Jan-13 20:52:20

You missed the 'c' in punctuation towards the end of the third paragraph.

Sorry, nothing helpful to add! wink grin

desertgirl Wed 16-Jan-13 21:03:35

She didn't say 'marked by someone with impeccable English' though, she just wanted the marker's English to be better than her son's - which doesn't seem unreasonable; and the mistakes quoted do seem to be fairly egregious - I would be raising it....

StuffezLaBouche Wed 16-Jan-13 21:07:02

Sorry LRD, I disagree. If you're sending something home you have a duty as someone paid to educate to ensure it's correctly spelled. It takes less than an minute to check if you're unsure! "Writting" is unforgivable...

Fair enough. I just thought that was a big difference between the odd minor error (which they look like to me), and telling a child he's wrong when he's right.

The first is forgiveable. The second is really shit, IMO.

mostlyhappywithsomelowpressure Wed 16-Jan-13 21:19:31

Thank you desertgirl - was starting to wish I hadn't bothered saying anything with the sudden attack on me starting!!! Jeeez, missing letters out and ending sentences incorrectly on a forum is very different from spelling things wrong on....d'ya know what..........

So THANK YOU desertgirl and anyone else who has advised me on this. And sorry I bothered you to everyone else!!!

'spelt wrong' is fine, spelt incorrect would not be.

Good night

(remember now why I don't come on here very often!)

porridgewithalmondmilk Wed 16-Jan-13 21:22:11

Why are TA's marking work? confused

I am a head of department and I would not expect a TA to be marking work at all. It's one of the standards for teachers, not TAs.

nokidshere Wed 16-Jan-13 21:26:00

I only just found out about peer marking - I am incensed by it!!!!!!!!!!!!

I do not want my sons worked being marked by someone else who may or may not understand it as much as my child. And what if my child had problems with it? How would the teacher even know? It is something I am talking to the school about very soon!

mostly - honestly, it wasn't meant to be an attack, and I did say in my post it'd be fair enough to say you use a different standard of accuracy on a forum, than you would if you were a TA.

I'm sorry if that was the wrong thing to say.

juniper904 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:42:14

In my school, we are allowed to ask TAs to mark work that doesn't require formative marking, so things like homework and spelling tests etc.

I tend to check over the homework books anyway, even if it's not me who does the tick and smile. I don't want to be held responsible for someone else's mistakes.

Our TAs don't write comments because most of our TAs are out of work actors, and they aren't vetted for writing ability / general ability.

TheNebulousBoojum Wed 16-Jan-13 22:16:41

'TheNebulousBoojum, i didn't even think to go in and pretend I thought it was the teacher who had marked it, that would put them in a difficult position. However if they tried to play the 'oh it was the TA' card, I am my own proof that that is irrelevant!! ;D'

Sorry, that's not what I meant, more along the lines of what echt wrote. The teacher is responsible for overseeing everything in her class, including marking. So she should be aware of her TA's strengths and weaknesses, and if the TA's written English isn't up to scratch, she shouldn't be marking or writing comments for parents to read.
Porridge, in primary schools, TAs often teach a group, decide on approaches to adopt within the teaching and both mark and write comments for formative assessment. Overall responsibility is the teacher's.
I was shocked when my children got to secondary and little of their work was marked, even less was commented on, or marked to the standard I expect from me and my team in Y6.

louschmoo Wed 16-Jan-13 22:23:43

I think this is shocking. Of course people make mistakes, but an educator put in charge of marking homework (be they a teacher or a TA) has a responsibility to ensure that the comments they are making are spelled correctly and phrased in a grammatical and coherent manner. I used to teach English as a foreign language and if I had marked my students' homework using incorrect spellings etc then my suitability for the job would have been questioned, and rightly so.

gimmecakeandcandy Wed 16-Jan-13 22:43:09

Points of ellipsis... Three dots... wink

LizzieVereker Wed 16-Jan-13 22:44:00

My TAs mark work, but only within the classroom, and they circulate checking spelling and punctuation. I have every confidence in them, but everyone can make an occasional slip. I would never ask them to assign grades or make formative comments, that's my responsibility. Vague comments such as "Be careful with punctuation" are unhelpful.

With regard to peer assessment, I think it can be useful, but only if the students are given very specific and narrow criteria by which to assess. For example, for a piece of persuasive writing I might ask them to look at their peer's work and underline any AFORREST techniques which have been used, and ask them to suggest an example of one that's been omitted.

I would only let older, able students assign grades using exam board criteria, and this can be very helpful to them, but I would always check their grades myself.

LizzieVereker Wed 16-Jan-13 22:44:49

I will get down off my high horse now. Sorry. blush

I am a TA and mark homework, spellings and any test such as in- class mental maths test where there is a list of answers (even though I could work them out for myself grin )
I am not allowed to make comments, nor would I want to. That is for the teachers I work with to do smile I mark (sometimes) and then pass the books to the teacher who checks through it and makes comments where required.

I think what OP has seen in her ds's book is shocking and I would most certainly be going in to talk to the teacher about it if I was OP.

sashh Thu 17-Jan-13 03:42:34

FE teachers aren't fully qualified

Wtf? So I wasted 2 years of my life learning how to teach?

OP yes you need to address this.

JusticeCrab Thu 17-Jan-13 06:37:41

'In my school, we are allowed to ask TAs to mark work that doesn't require formative marking, so things like homework and spelling tests etc.'

Interesting that this is the case in some schools. In the OP's case the marking was very much formative. I would be having a word with the school about this, as it appears to be outside the scope of this TA's competence.

(DM is a retired HLTA, by the way).

HecateWhoopass Thu 17-Jan-13 06:46:29

I think you should go in with the book and say look, this isn't acceptable. Someone who is teaching someone English should be good enough in it that they aren't teaching that person bloody mistakes!

To accept it is like saying that you can be taught maths by someone who can't do long division and that it's ok to teach them that 2+2=5. Wrong is wrong and when you are teaching someone, it is important to get it right. They rely on you to be right.

merrymouse Thu 17-Jan-13 07:03:55

You should definitely make your son's teacher aware of these comments.

What if they had been made on the book of a child who didn't have an adult available to spot the marker's mistakes? It's too confusing.

mostlyhappywithsomelowpressure Thu 17-Jan-13 18:35:22

not just you LRD but that started it. Mainly hollyberrybush and her unnecessary critism of my FE PGCE qualificiations!!!!!!! I know this topic section says dont get offended by comments but i didnt think my post would illicit critisism of me.

And yeah there are no apostrophes and some spelling mistakes and ive just started a sentence with and. Who gives a s**t. IM NOT MARKING KIDS WORK. Going to delete my account off here now.

greenbananas Thu 17-Jan-13 18:44:10

I used to be a TA and I have an honours degree in English. I hope there aren't any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in my post!

I have noticed that a few primary teachers don't have the literacy skills that I feel are essential to teach young children. It used to frustrate me when working with them.

My first niece regularly got her correct spellings marked wrong when she was in primary school. It used to annoy her quite a lot. My third niece's reception teacher used to ask her how to spell things before writing them on the board (my third niece is a bit of a prodigy, and had a 'reading age' of about 12 by the time she started school, but I still feel her reception teacher should have had better literacy skills).

mostly, I really am sorry I offended you. I only meant it as a light comment, and I did say that, of course, you're only on a forum not marking work.

I'm sorry you feel the need to delete your account.

I'm not sure what else to say, TBH.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheFallenNinja Thu 17-Jan-13 20:45:32

If be up there. No hesitation.

TheFallenNinja Thu 17-Jan-13 20:46:14

If only to correct my own spelling confused

beer - all I was originally getting at was, I think anyone can make a slip or two. Like the OP did, and like the TA did when she wrote 'writting' not 'writing'. What I don't think anyone teaching should do, is to correct something that was right in the first place. That's not a casual error and it is really unfair on a child to do that.

catladycourtney1 Thu 17-Jan-13 20:52:53

Yes, you absolutely should say something. I'm a bit of a correct-spelling-and-grammar enthusiast but things like that really go through me, and even moreso when it's someone charged with teaching children! I work as a cleaner in a nursery, and there's a wall display showing the group rules, one of which, apparently, is "we use are teeth to eat food." Eurrgh. It's not really my place to point it out, but I really wish somebody would.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pilgit Thu 17-Jan-13 21:12:50

YANBU - comments in books should be correct and informative. I have a vivid memory of having 2+2=4 being marked as wrong as I had written a clear 4 the wrong way round. I am left handed and had (and still do when v tired) significant problems with getting letters and numbers round the correct way. I just didn't get it. There was nothing to 'indicate that I'd got the maths right but the writing wrong. This and a few other examples completely undermined my confidence in maths. My point is that careful thought should be given to such comments and marking. Saying something that is correct is wrong can severely undermine confidence.

Greythorne Thu 17-Jan-13 21:19:14

"Spelt wrong" is correct, surely?

Verbs go with adverbs; nouns go with adjectives. 'Spelt' is a verb.

pilgit - oh, are you me?! I had a teacher who did that! She did it every time I wrote a number the wrong way around. I can honestly still feel the same way I did then, really upset and confused. And I remember feeling how unfair it was that she didn't explain.

That's why I think the correction of something that was right is so much worse than the other things. It's not in the same league IMO.

JusticeCrab Thu 17-Jan-13 22:50:16

You deleted your account because a couple of people criticised your spelling and grammar?!!

Jesus fucking Christ.

JusticeCrab Thu 17-Jan-13 22:56:25

By the way: sorry to burst all your bubbles, but 'spelt wrong' is correct.

Chambers dictionary lists an adverbial definition for 'wrong'. 'Wrongly' is simply an alternative and equally acceptable adverbial form.

It makes me wince.

Apparently it's also acceptable these days to say 'who did you give it to' and 'different to'.

Doesn't mean I have to like it.

(Am I doing a successful imitation of my grouchy pedantic grandpa? Why yes!)

coraltoes Fri 18-Jan-13 06:56:29

I would get very cross with the teacher in this instance. If you teach maths I can forgive spelling errors, if you teach French I can forgive poor Spanish, if you teach English you really ought to have a firm grasp of spelling and grammar.

As for deleting your account, do you think we really give a shit? Just do it, don't announce it, in the hope of "oh please stay, please don't leave the site because of pedants" pleas.

MoreFrontThanBrighton Fri 18-Jan-13 07:18:07

Greenbananas - the teacher 'asking' your niece for spellings before writing them on the board was most likely a confidence booster and teaching tool for your niece whose needs stretched far beyond the early years curriculum.
Of course as you know, being a TA, being a very advanced reader does not necessarily mean you are an advanced speller too hmm

greenbananas Fri 18-Jan-13 07:53:00

Greenbananas - the teacher 'asking' your niece for spellings before writing them on the board was most likely a confidence booster and teaching tool for your niece whose needs stretched far beyond the early years curriculum.

I understand what you are saying, but in this case that wasn't what was happening. The teacher used to spell things wrong on the board quite regularly, and my niece used to point it out. Eventually the teacher started checking 'difficult' words with her before writing them. Letters to parents also contained lots of spelling mistakes. The teacher was a lovely woman, and a good teacher in other ways, but spelling was not her strong point!

DreamingOfTheMaldives Fri 18-Jan-13 08:02:19

I can't imagine the op has deleted her account because people corrected her spelling and grammar. It's more likely that she deleted her account because she posted a question as she was concerned about the ability of the person marking her son's homework and other posters took it as an opportunity to be rather smug and display their superior spelling and grammar skills.

I imagine few of us know a significant amount about medicine but we would still reserve the right to complain about our doctor if we thought his standards fell short of what was expected. Why shouldn't the OP complain about the teacher/TA's marking abilities, irrespective of her own abilities.

Please feel free to correct any spelling and grammar mistakes I may have made, if it will make you feel better.

catladycourtney1 Sun 20-Jan-13 17:18:46

I corrected teachers' spelling on multiple occasions when I was at school. But mainly just to be a bit of a smart-arse, really. I do think that teachers ought to have a sufficient grasp of spelling to cover the words they will be using in their job, though.
I had a young-ish English A-Level teacher who, according to her, was not teaching us, but "learning" us. And she wasn't lending me a pen, she was "borrowing" me one. We also had a bit of a falling out once over how to spell "jewellery". I mean, she was a smart woman and I'm sure she knew what she was talking about, but how can someone who has spent a sizeable chunk of her life wanting and training to teach English still be making mistakes like those?

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