Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Call for Rethink of 'Really Demanding' Grammar Content

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Call for Rethink of 'Really Demanding' Grammar Content

Article excerpt

Standfirst

One of the main architects of England's national curriculum has urged ministers to rethink the "really demanding" grammar content after problems with this year's Sats for 11-year-olds.

Tim Oates (pictured, inset), who chaired a government-commissioned review that led to the introduction of the new curriculum from 2014, told TES there was a "genuine problem about undue complexity in demand" in the content that formed the basis of this year's spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) test.

Need for fine-tuning

The research director at Cambridge Assessment said that the content for 10- and 11-year-olds - including subordinate clauses, fronted adverbials and the subjunctive form - "went through quickly in the last few months of the [national curriculum] review".

Mr Oates said that he had advised ministers to rethink the curriculum in the wake of problems with this year's tests. He suggested that grammar teaching should focus on how to apply rules to complex language instead of increasing the "complexity of language about language...so you inevitably have to hit things like subordinating conjunctions".

The current approach, introduced in September, meant that naming grammatical constructions was being "studied just as something in its own right that needs to be remembered", Mr Oates said. …

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