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Grammar test for every 11-year-old: Gove unveils back-to-basics exam to drive up standardsPupils will be tested on grammar and punctuation skills in new exams
Government says 'too little attention' has been paid to core skillsOne in four pupils started secondary school this year without basic skills
23:28 GMT, 16 December 2012
Back-to-basics: Plans unveiled by Michael Gove will see 11-year-olds tested on their grammar and punctuation in a drive to raise English standards
A back-to-basics test of grammar and punctuation for all 11-year-olds has been unveiled by Michael Gove in a drive to raise standards in primary schools.
Up to 600,000 pupils a year, starting from next spring, will take the 45-minute exam and a separate test containing 20 spelling questions.
The initiative is part of moves by the Education Secretary to address a lack of focus on the use of correct written English in exams.
Questions covering punctuation will test pupils on the proper use of commas, full stops, apostrophes, inverted commas, colons, question marks and exclamation marks.
For grammar, youngsters will need to know parts of speech, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions, plus appropriate use of tenses and ‘I’ and ‘me’.
Pupils will be required to tackle 45 questions in as many minutes. The test will also check the range of their vocabulary, for example by asking them to give synonyms for ‘enormous’.
A separate 15-minute exam will ask pupils to spell words such as information, temperature and immediately.
Details of the syllabus and sample questions have been released by the Department for Education ahead of the first round of testing in May.
Official primary school league tables published last week revealed rising standards in the three Rs but wide variations around the country.
Despite an improvement in headline pass rates, one in four youngsters still started their secondary education this autumn without a basic mastery of reading, writing and maths.
The reforms also follow complaints from employers and universities that school leavers too often lack basic literacy despite, in some cases, passing public exams.
Raising standards: The move forms part of a drive by the Education Secretary to address a lack of focus on correct English in exams
In addition, Mr Gove has ordered
GCSEs in key subjects to be revamped so specific marks are awarded for
correct use of spelling, grammar and punctuation.
primary grammar test is partly designed to prepare pupils for these
changes, which are expected to carry through to the tough new
replacement for GCSEs. The exam will form part of SATs tests taken in
the final year of primary school.
Documents being made available to schools show that pupils will be expected to know the difference between formal and non-standard English and to learn to proofread their work.
The new tests replace a writing test which required pupils to compose extended passages but was scrapped following claims of inconsistent marking
The brightest pupils will take an advanced test containing material usually reserved for the first three years of secondary school.
Sample questions show they will be expected to write a short report, spell words such as unnecessary, synchronised and subtle and answer more stretching questions on tenses and parts of speech.
The grammar and punctuation tests
replace a controversial writing test which required pupils to compose
extended passages. It was scrapped this year amid claims that marking
was wildly inconsistent.
Teachers will now grade their own
pupils on composition, based on their work throughout the year, and this
will be combined with results in the new test.
teaching unions have already threatened to boycott the new exam amid
claims it will promote a culture of ‘teaching to the test’.
Department for Education spokesman said: ‘The new, rigorous spelling,
punctuation and grammar tests will drive up standards in primary
‘Too little attention has been given to these core skills. It is vital that pupils are confident in key writing techniques.’