Blunkett's War on Sloppy Grammar

Article excerpt

DAVID BLUNKETT is to signal a new campaign next week to improve the sloppy grammar of primary school children. The Secretary of State for Education will tell teachers to put grammar back at the top of the curriculum - and focus more on spelling, punctuation and essay-writing.

Mr Blunkett will announce that a batch of 38 "beacon" schools is to be created to help to raise standards in writing in 300 primary schools across the country. And he will make it clear that writing does not have to be stuffy by presenting prizes to winners of a contest for television scripts aimed at primary schoolchildren.

"There has been a real transformation of standards of reading and maths in our primary schools but there is clearly much more to do," said a ministerial source. "The new beacon schools will help spread best practice and they will be backed up by the `New Grammar Guide'."

The guide, for classes up to year six, suggests teachers should ask their pupils to compose a poem about an autumn leaf or road repairs. One poem quoted in the guide ends with the lines, "The long dusty road. A modern mess".

Ministers decided that too much of the writing by children was also a mess, and needed extra work by teachers. They are convinced that the cause of the problem is the trend away from correct spelling in the 1980s and 1990s, and they partly blame teachers for the decline in standards.

Mr Blunkett challenged that trend by calling for a return to the "three Rs" after Labour came to power. …