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The QES campaigns to persuade all concerned that young people deserve the chance to learn and to use English properly, when and where it matters

                 Teaching in the UK today                 

         The Queen's English Society's support for the Government's          
                                       Education White Paper                                        

Press Release - November 2010


Education Secretary Michael Gove's proposals in today's White Paper are sheer common sense, which has been sadly lacking in education for many years. Penalising students in GCSE exams for poor grammar,Image of the Palace of WestminsterImage of the Palace of Westminsterspelling and punctuation gives them an immediate incentive to make improvements which will stand them in good stead for life. Labour's decision in 2003 to scrap rewards for good literacy has harmed school leavers' job prospects and firms' efficiency. The heads of various organisations, such as Tesco, BT, M&S, CBI and the Institute of Directors, backed up by actresses Emma Thompson and Penelope Keith, have deplored the low literacy standards of many school leavers, with many firms having to spend money on the training of employees in basic English for work purposes.

For many years the Queen's English Society has been advocating more explicit teaching and examining of grammar, spelling and punctuation in primary and secondary schools. Creativity is enhanced, not spoiled, by correct clear English.

Our research showed that at university level, home students made three times as many errors in English than did the overseas students, which is a sad reflection on how our language is taught in our schools.

We strongly believe that pupils need to be told when they are wrong - in any subject - or how will they ever learn? Teachers of all subjects should correct errors of English in a kindly, constructive way. Once this is instituted, the amount of correction needing to be done by any one teacher should rapidly diminish. It takes time to correct work, time which should come from reducing the burden of red tape, bureaucracy and box-ticking.

We agree with a revision of the National Curriculum to outline key 'bodies of knowledge' and wish to contribute to the revision of the English Order. The Queen's English Society has responded in writing to government consultation documents on the National Curriculum for English since the Kingman Report in 1988, and through meetings with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority./p

Mr Gove is absolutely right to have said, "Thousands of children - including some of our very brightest - leave school unable to compose a proper sentence, ignorant of basic grammar, incapable of writing a clear and accurate letter. ... The basic building blocks of English were demolished by those who should have been giving our children a solid foundation in learning."

It is also a great concern that many teachers are hindered by poor discipline in the classroom, with insufficient support from heads, governors and legislation. We strongly agree with the Education Secretary's various statements on the need to restore discipline in schools, and to change the balance of power back from pupils to teachers, for the pupils' and teachers' benefit.