Council spends 100,000-a-year on just TWO "grammar tsars" to help teachers prepare 10-year-olds for exams

Council spends 100,000-a-year on just TWO 'grammar tsars' to help teachers prepare 10-year-olds for examsKent County Council employs two 'literacy consultants' to tutor teachersEach earns between 51,000 and 54,000 a yearMove comes ahead of new grammar tests for pupils aged 10 and 11Critics say teachers should already have firm knowledge of grammar

By
Damien Gayle

PUBLISHED:

14:54 GMT, 29 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:10 GMT, 29 March 2013

A council has come under fire for employing two 'grammar tsars' on 50,000 each to help primary school teachers learn the answers to a new English test – for 10-year-olds.

Kent County Council has employed two 'literacy consultants' to tutor primary school teachers ahead of a new grammar test for pupils aged 10 and 11 in June this year.

Hundreds of teachers across the county have already taken part in 'Confidence with English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling' courses, to 'consolidate' their knowledge of the language.

So Bobby, what's a subordinate connective Kent County Council has employed two 'literacy consultants' to tutor primary school teachers ahead of a new grammar test for pupils. (Picture posed by models)

So Bobby, what's a subordinate connective Kent County Council has employed two 'literacy consultants' to tutor primary school teachers ahead of a new grammar test for pupils. (Picture posed by models)

But critics say the teachers should already have a grasp of basic English.

The new tests have been designed to be 'more demanding' on pupils and are believed to test children on 'more than just basic grammar' – which prompted the council to employ two 'experts' on a two year contract.

The so-called 'literacy consultants' started work in August last year and will continue until August 2014, earning between 51,000 and 54,000 each.

Chrissie Maher OBE, the founder of the Plain English Campaign, said that teachers should already have a firm knowledge of grammar without the need for the 'tsars'.

She said: 'It's good for the kids, but bad if their English teachers don't know basic English.

'If they're not up to scratch they shouldn't be there – they should've been getting retrained.

'Grammar is a big issue and it's bad these kids are being taught everyday grammar if the teachers don't know what they're talking about.'

'I think all children should learn basic
grammar and should know it by the time they leave primary school, but
teaching them what a subordinate connective is, is absolutely bonkers' Derry Wiltshire, head teacher of Amherst School

Some headteachers and ex-heads, however, said that it was 'too much' to teach kids 'complex grammar'.

Derry Wiltshire, head teacher of the outstanding-rated Amherst School in Riverhead, Kent, said: 'I think all children should learn basic grammar and should know it by the time they leave primary school, but teaching them what a subordinate connective is is absolutely bonkers.'

Peter Cornish, the former head teacher at St Matthew's Primary School in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said he thought some teachers would 'find it difficult' to got back to class.

He said: 'It wouldn't surprise me if they (the teachers) didn't know some of the intricacies (of grammar).

'I think back when I was educated you knew a lot of the grammar because that's what we were taught at the time, but when you went to teacher training college it was hardly ever mentioned.'

A spokesman for Kent County Council said this week: 'The course aims to consolidate teachers' subject knowledge and their understanding of the test content and format.

'It also offers practical advice on how to teach these elements of English.

'As with every part of the teaching profession, continued professional development is crucial for maintaining the high standards of teaching that every child deserves and every parent expects.'