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Against the proposed Y6 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Tests - your views needed!

(149 Posts)
KarenInglis Sun 16-Dec-12 19:01:11

All - please read this open letter to the Times Educational Supplement from Alan Peat about the proposed grammar, punctuation and spelling tests for Y6 children. I don't know Alan - this just happened to pass my Twitter feed. But I am glad that I read it.

My children are all grown up now but as an author and being passionate about encouraging reading and writing I think what he has to say needs a very close look.

If you agree with what he has to say please do tweet/FB etc using the hashtag he has supplied. He is clearly trying to raise the profile of his piece to ensure that it will be picked up by the TES.

Best wishes,


learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 19:16:58

Maybe I should have read Alan's rant to the end, up I gave up after two paragraphs. Primary schools aren't trying to produce Jane Fekin Austens, ffs!! They're just trying to produce adolescents who can spell and string coherent sentences together. What a waste of reading time!

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 19:22:57

Do you know what a modal verb is or a fronted adverbial learnandsay? Do you need to know if you can use them correctly in your writing hmm

ReallyTired Sun 16-Dec-12 19:24:36

I think that having a spelling grammar and punctuation test is an excellent idea. My son will be one of the guinea pigs for this new test. His class have had extra grammar lessons to help them.

Long writing will still be assessed but it will be coursework. Children will have a portitfolio of their best work. This will measure creativity in a much better way. As I understand it the assessed pieces will be produced under controlled conditons.

learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 19:27:21

Not a clue, mrz. Are they harmful?

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 19:40:06

Children sitting the level 6 test will do an extended piece of writing from a set writing prompt that will dictate the purpose, audience and format for the writing. There is nothing in the guidance to indicate the conditions the teacher assessed pieces are produced under.

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 19:41:09

No but 11 year pupils will be expected to know. As a matter of interest our inspector didn't know either

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 19:42:17

10 & 11 year old pupils

learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 19:46:05

Are you saying that Y6 needs to have a comprehensive understanding of grammar in order to pass this section of the test? Can they fail the grammar section and still pass the test?

learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 19:49:30

I would have considered a reasonable grasp of grammar for an eleven year old who had been taught useful grammatical rules would be sufficient. But requiring such children to have an extensive knowledge of sometimes esoteric grammar isn't reasonable, no.

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 19:53:41

No learnandsay I'm saying Y6 need to know the technical vocabulary for the test.
The grammar section has the most marks

Catsnotrats Sun 16-Dec-12 19:55:31

Can I suggest people have a look at example test

I think it is incredibly valuable that children are able to write in coherent sentences, I'm just not sure that this test will enable more to be able to do this.

We also don't know what weighting the test will have on the overall writing level, as it is a 45 and 20 minute test it is likely that it will be at least 50%. I know that having to rehearse for this test is going to take time away from the children producing sustained, interesting and meaningful pieces of writing. We already teach and use all the concepts and terms in our teaching, I'm not sure how being able to identify a preposition within a sentence will improve the children's ability to communicate through writing.

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 19:56:43

Our children use fronted adverbials correctly and effectively in their writing but I very much doubt they know the technical term.

sausagesandwich34 Sun 16-Dec-12 20:02:47

DD did this the practise test and knows several different types nouns

my knowledge of nouns stops at a noun is a naming word -if I really scratched my head and thought about it I would be able to tell you what common and proper nouns are

it did not stop me getting an A level in English lit or a degree in language and linguistic studies


learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 20:26:21

Hmmm, having looked fronted adverbials up I'm not sure how impressed I am with them.

Gone were the dreary, grey curtains. In place instead were bouncy mats.

Maybe as lessons in writing ungrammatically for the purpose of dramatic effect knowing about them is fine. It's not wrong to know how a sentence should be constructed. It's not wrong to know that some people deliberately corrupt sentences, how they do it and why they do it. So, for the example of fronted adverbials I approve. (I don't know about the others.) Or should that be: About the others I don't know?

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 20:31:56


you need to know

concrete nouns
abstract nouns
proper nouns
collective nouns
noun phrases


learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 20:35:30

My four year old is at a disadvantage. Her one year old sister, as well as being able to read and write next year will also be having comprehensive lessons in grammar!

Is there a list of required technical terms to be found anywhere or do teachers just have to guess whether to call them 'subordinate clauses' or 'embedded clauses'? ::Anxious as my PM target depends on my class all achieving L4 at least.::

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 20:40:17

Stupidly, I missed out pronouns sausagesandwich.

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 20:46:50

LaBelleDameSansPatience that's part of the problem. I grew up with common nouns which are now concrete nouns and definite/indefinite articles are now determiners so teachers are relearning

plainjayne123 Sun 16-Dec-12 20:49:56

I also think the letter in OP is mostly garbage, new test sounds fine, just wish if had been around when I was at school.

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 20:53:59

So you think we should learn what a modal verb is? Would it improve our writing or could we produce the same standard of work without knowing the technical terms plainjayne?

learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 21:01:12

Here's a list of the modal verbs in English:
wouldmustshallshouldought to

I think there is a danger here of learning things simply for the sake of learning things. We all use these terms correctly (well, here on mumsnet, anyway) without having a technical phrase for them. In the case of modal verbs I do not approve.

learnandsay Sun 16-Dec-12 21:02:34

Here's a list of the modal verbs in English:
ought to

mrz Sun 16-Dec-12 21:03:02

I did give a clue in my sentence learnandsay wink

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