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Grammar in primary schools

The difficulties of teaching grammar in primary schools have been highlighted by a leading education expert.
 
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), has saidmany adults would struggle to answer the grammar questions that 11-year-olds have to tackle.
 
She believes it is too much to expect primary school children to understand grammatical terms such as relative clauses, conjunctions and modal verbs.
 
Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, Dr Bousted singled out four difficult questions that 11-year-olds would be expected to answer. One was: “Complete this sentence so that it uses the subjunctive form: If I ____ to have one wish, it would be for good health.” The answer is: “were”.
 
She also told The Mail Online: “I have no problem with a curriculum aiming high, but this is a standard which is unattainable for many adults, never mind children, and it is doing the wrong thing at the wrong stage of their development.”
 
She added: “Naming the parts of language and doing grammar exercises are not what the vast majority of children need to improve their language skills at this stage in their school life.”
 
Many teachers will agree, but No Nonsense Grammar aims to help them through the challenges of teaching the subject. It’s a new complete grammar programme designed to meet the needs of the National Curriculum in a manageable way.
 
Education secretary Nicky Morgan defended the government’s grammar policy on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show. She said: "We have to be ambitious for our young people. If you don't get it right at primary, then it becomes much harder for children to catch up at secondary school.”
 
In a Sunday Times article, she said that primary school children “should be able to write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar”.
 
She added: "Some will say this is an old-fashioned view, but I say that giving every child the chance to master the basics and succeed in life is a fundamental duty of any government."
 
David Collins
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