Abolish the Grammar Test for 11 year olds
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Dear Mr Walliams,
I saw this ad in my local Costcutter:
Celebrity with some clout, who cares about the education of children.
- special interest in reading and its impact on lots of stuff.
- the balls to say what needs to be said.
- a name that rhymes with valliums!
See Singh inside for details."
I immediately thought this job might fit Matt Lucas, but his name doesn't rhyme and I'm not sure about him having the balls and clout you have???? What do you think?
Could you be the voice for pupils and teachers across the country? I know how popular your books are in primary schools, imagine how you would be worshipped if you were the man who brought an end to the dreaded Grammar test??? Your name would be chanted by pupils and teachers across the nation and there would then be the time to write songs and poems in your honour.
Why do I want you to help bring about this change...(here's the teachery bit).
Having a solid understanding of basic grammar is important, ( and by that I mean for example:
word types - nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs;
sentence types - complex, compound, simple;
a range of punctuation - inverted commas (not called speech marks anymore), commas, full stops, question marks, apostrophes, exclamation marks)
However the knowledge and understanding required for the SATS last May and again this May, has gone far beyond the basics and is having a detrimental impact on the rest of the primary English curriculum, in so much as, the time (energy and resources) it is taking away from reading, creative writing and a developing a love of literature and language.
I have yet to meet someone (although I know there'll be some out there) who can hand on heart say that understanding the difference between...
- subordinating and coordinating conjunctions;
- passive and active verbs;
- past and present progressive verbs;
- relative and subordinate clauses,
- noun/prepositional/adverbial phrases;
- articles and determiners;
- antonyms, synonyms, homophones,
...has helped them become better writers, readers, learners, people!
When writing their dissertation for their degree, application form for their first job, letter (email) to a loved one, newspaper article for the editor, script for a West End play, life's autobiography, children's story, classic novel, how many of them said, I know what this writing needs....
- a variety of fronted adverbials,
- a good range of subordinators,
- a good old past progressive passive verb, ( apparently this exists)
- abstract nouns,
- adjectival clauses
and a dollop of that good old subjunctive mood?
This is my all time favourite - subjunctive mood. Even if you do know what it is - nobody cares.
All of the above grammatical terms were a part of the SATS last May and are a part of this year's Y6 SATS test this May - it is appalling the depth primary school children are expected to understand when these terms are not ever going to be used during the rest of their...... lives! (unless they go on to study languages where in the past they would learn some of those terms at university while studying for a language degree - yes DEGREE). Secondary school doesn't follow up this stuff, so why are primaries wasting everyone's time?
Furthermore, the general public (and by this I mean everyone apart from those in education) will not be aware that unless a child is physically incapable of legible writing, then NO child can be considered to working above the standard dictated to teachers by 'the powers that be' if their handwriting is considered not legible enough. So in that case, the content is less important than the presentation. (And before anyone starts, I believe neat, legible handwriting important, just nowhere near as important as content - as a writer I hope you would agree!!!)
I have heard the word 'disillusionment' bandied around by those in the teaching profession and I want, people to be made aware of this Gove legacy, in the hope that it goes NOW and becomes something quickly forgotten or something possibly discussed in a staff room in 5 years time, when teachers laugh about that appalling grammar curriculum they were forced to teach and the ridiculous notion that your independent writing cannot be considered to be any good, if it's not written neatly.
David - let me know if you can help raise awareness of this appalling test and get it scrapped asap.
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