Primary primer to boost writing

4th August 2000 at 01:00
TEACHERS in primaries are about to get the first government-approved grammar book for decades to help them introduce nouns, verbs and adjectives.

All teachers of children aged eight and above will get a copy of the 200-page primer that sets out ways to teach grammar.

Formal grammar teaching disappeared from schools in the 1970s when it was thought that children would pick up grammar as they learned to write.

The new focus on writing comes as this year's literacy scores for 11-year-olds are expected to show that reading is improving faster than writing.

As well as the book, Grammar for Writing, all teachers of nine-year-olds are to be given training in teaching writing.

According to Laura Huxford, director for training at the national literacy centre, the book breaks new ground by demonstrating ways of relaying grammar direct to children's writing.

"It is revolutionary in that the intention is not to teach grammar as an end in itself, but to give children the confidence to discuss why they might be using a particular verb or adjective," she said.

"For example, they might write about someone limping or shuffling down the road, rather than walking. Teachers are good at teaching creative writing, but this approach concentrates on the need to plan and produce reasonable wok the first time.

"Older children might be introduced to the passive voice in order to produce more abstract writing. Instead of writing 'the farmer sows seeds in the autumn', it might be more effective to write 'seeds are sown in the autumn'."

The guidance suggests eight-year-olds should be introduced to ways of using nouns and verbs, with adjectives and adverbs added on for nine-year-olds.

By the time children are 10, they might tackle propositions and connectives (conjunctions) and in the final year they might be told about determiners (the, an, those, each).

Teachers are to be told that a greater share of the literacy hour should be spent explaining to the whole class the process of writing.

"Too little help is being given to the business of writing. Children may know what they want to write, but there may be no intervention from the teacher except to correct spelling," said Ms Huxford.

The guide has been produced by a working group of literacy consultants and linguists and will arrive in schools two to three weeks into the autumn term.

Schools are also to get a training video.

Reading scores have improved rapidly in the three years of the National Literacy Strategy, but writing remains a problem, particularly among boys.

Struggling readers, 7

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