New grammar tests are a throw-back to 1950s


In the light of plans for new primary school grammar tests in England, the National Association for the Teaching of English has said a revised focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation will impoverish teaching.

However, Dr Gibbons, chairman of the association and expert in English education at King's College, London, has warned that the new plans will turn pupils off the subject.

He said: "We are likely to see a secondary curriculum - if we have one at all beyond an O-Level syllabus - similarly impoverished, but with the addition of a list of set books drawn from the great and the good of the literary canon.

"Most English teachers try to teach grammar in context rather than through formal exercises. There's very little evidence of a benefit to teaching grammar in that way. It's a throwback to the 1950s' formal grammar teaching."

Dr Gibbons has also criticised plans to introduce a new national grammar test - the technical aspects of English - for all pupils in the top year of primary school.

He said: "It will effectively hold a gun to the head of would lead to teachers drilling pupils with grammar exercises. The myth that people want you to believe is that you become a better writer as a result."

He added: "Motivation and engagement are the things that help children learn...underlining parts of a sentence don't really do it for most people."