In response to current government thinking that standards in spelling, punctuation and grammar have fallen among British school leavers, the Department for Education plans to introduce an external SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar) test that children will take before they leave primary school, as reported by the BBC. Head teachers have responded negatively to this new test questioning its validity and expense and are threatening to boycott its introduction.
There has been a huge backlash from teachers and educationalists to the seemingly constant testing that British children are subjected to from a young age. Teachers are now obliged to teach to a narrow interpretation of the national curriculum and the focus is more on passing the tests rather than encouraging broader learning or on developing a curiosity for knowledge and its application. Head teachers are adamant that they and their staff should be trusted to assess and develop children’s writing abilities without resorting to formal testing.
However valid head teachers’ arguments are and however flawed this new test may be, few employers would disagree with the premise that many school leavers and university graduates are joining organisations with a lack of basic writing skills and a very scant knowledge of key principles of grammar, punctuation and spelling. This in turn results either in a very sloppy standard of written communication being sent out or in a considerable financial investment being made in grammar and punctuation training programmes to ensure that new employees convey a professional image of themselves and their organisation. The current proposal from the Department for Education appears to be in stalemate but the discussion needs to continue to ensure that solutions are put in place to ensure higher standards of writing among young British adults – if they don’t have a mastery of these basic communication skills they risk being disadvantaged in the job market.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2012