Don't freak out over KS3 spelling

4th May 2001 at 01:00
Those who accuse us of "control freakery" over the key stage 3 national strategy spelling list should read its introduction ("Spelling lists scorned as 'control freakery'", TES, April 27).

In full, the relevant passage - introducing the subject spelling lists in the framework for teaching English - reads: "These lists of subject spellings were compiled by a number of secondary school departments. They identified the words listed as being words that were often needed and often incorrectly spelt. Schools may use these suggestions as the basis for local lists suitable for their own topics and needs.

"The list is not intended for blanket teachingbecause all pupils will know how to spell some of the words. However, it is recommended that pupils should be helped to learn those spellings about which they are uncertain."

This statement demonstrates that, far from being an example of "control freakery", the Government's role in this case is to disseminate the good practice of some secondary schools. Each English department will, of course, decide for itself the extent to which it draws on these lists to help raise standards in its school.

Professor Michael Barber Head of the standards and effectiveness unit Department for Education and Employment, Sanctuary Buildings London SW1

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