New exam for 11 year-olds

On Tuesday 600,000 primary pupils took a new exam in spelling, punctuation and grammar designed to tackle poor literacy skills. Teaching unions have attacked the test.

The new test, part of the annual round of SATs, is being introduced to tackle fears that the basics of the English language were being neglected in primary schools under the last government, The Telegraph reports.

Last year a sample writing test found that 23% of 11 year-olds – about 125,000 children – failed to reach the expected standard for their age group. The new test will examine pupils on commonly misspelt words, the correct use of punctuation and grammatical rules, to ensure that they can write accurate sentences and structure essays properly. They will also be expected to use ‘fluent, joined and legible’ handwriting and to recognise the difference between formal and non-standard English.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss warned that too many children struggle with the basics of English at primary school and don’t catch up at secondary school: “This new test will mean that children are again taught the skills they need to understand our language, and to use it properly, creatively and effectively,” she said.

The main teaching unions say that the new exam will put extra pressure on children and make teachers drill pupils to pass it; the NUT is exploring the possibility of boycotting it next year.

Will the new test stop ‘the basics’ of English being neglected, or put 11 year-olds under too much pressure? Share your views with the Eteach community!

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