Apostrophes. So hard to spell, so easy to place. At least, that's the way it should be, but almost every organisation - including the DfES - has suffered the curse of the greengrocer's - or should it be greengrocers'? - apostrophe at some time. It's not fair: an aid to clear communication, badly taught, has divided us into a nation of pedants and grammar-phobics, almost down class and age lines. Short of exorcising the little blighters - the novel action taken this week by one school to cure its sick building syndrome - what's to be done?
Easy. Ministers have ensured schools' league table ratings will depend on this much-maligned squiggle. From 2009, misplaced apostrophes, commas and quote marks may stop GCSE candidates from getting English at C or above.
Three cheers for the Government... for making sure we'll all know exactly where to stick it.