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Professional writers’ advice to kids on spelling and grammar tests

Professional writers don’t know what fronted adverbials are either but they do know it hasn’t got anything to do with being a good writer

Professional writing agency The Writer published a letter to English primary school children on their blog.

“Dear kids,

We’ve heard all about the spelling and grammar test you have to do as part of your SATs. We think it sounds pretty tough.

Not just the test itself, but all the months you’ve spent learning about things like fronted adverbials and expanded noun phrases and subordinating conjunctions. We’re willing to bet you wish you’d spent a bit less time doing that, and more time making up funny poems, or writing your own adventure stories.”

The letter goes on to talk about how unnecessary the things are that the tests focus on – how even professional writers don’t know the answers – and some ideas about what good writing actually is.

As with so many other things we’ve got used to this; that children learn things for the sake of it, because the government says they should. That they jump through these hoops because that’s the way it is. We shouldn’t. It is damaging children’s attitudes to learning, taking away their joy of writing and story-telling, putting obstacles in front of their ability to write well. And far worse. It is literally wasting their lives, filling their minutes and months and years with things they don’t want and don’t need.


Read the letter in full

A letter to primary school children in England (The Writer blog, 20 May 2016)

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