Full stops against a brick wall

19th April 1996 at 01:00
If Brenda Leonard ("Correct spelling rools okay?" TES, April 5) would care to refer to the document, Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum, published in January 1995, she would discover that my colleagues and I are required to teach punctuation from the beginning of a child's school career. I refer her to page 11, para 2d:

"In punctuation, pupils should be taught that punctuation is essential to help a reader understand what is written. Pupils should be given opportunities to read their work aloud in order to understand the connections between the punctuation of a sentence and intonation and emphasis. Pupils should be taught to punctuate their writing, be consistent in their writing, be consistent in their use of capital letters, full stops and question marks, and begin to use commas."

On page 15, in the section on key stage 2 writing, she will find further reference to punctuation, including commas.

I don't know if Ms Leonard has ever taught infants but, if she has, she will confirm that it is often like banging your head against a brick wall. You go over the same thing, full stops and capitals for instance, time and time again, with little or no success and then suddenly the seed begins to take root.

From using no full stops at all, they put them everywhere - they use great footballs and almost all in the wrong place. Eventually, most children get the message, though some never do.

Perhaps if I had to spend less time teaching six-year-olds scientific concepts that I only learnt myself at grammar school and historical concepts which many adults fail to grasp (to judge by the vast sales of tabloid newspapers), I might have more time to spend on the punctuation and spelling which Brenda Leonard so rightly champions.

ANN DUNN 19 Brewton Road Oldham Lancs

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