American revolution in scientific spellings

24th November 2000 at 00:00
SCHOOLS have been told to teach children American spellings for common scientific terms, writes Julie Henry.

Guidance from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority say next year's national curriculum tests for 11 and 14-year-olds will conform to "international agreements on scientific nomenclature".

Words such as foetus and sulphate will be spelt fetus and sulfate.

Adrian Rosser, head of science at De Aston school, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire,said the guidance was incomplete and confusing. "Two lines in a 60-page document is inadequate to introduce a change like his."

A QCA spokesman said the changes were in line with the scientific community's desire to standardise terms. He said children would not be penalised for using English spellings.

Professor Bernard Lamb, chairman of the Queen's English Society and a biology lecturer at London University, said teachers should object to using American spellings.

"Why not have a standardised language that uses the English spelling. I encourage my students to use the traditional spelling of words like 'foetus', although I do not penalise them if they use the alternative."

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