Tests create lost literary boys

11th August 2006 at 01:00
Why are our boys failing in writing? The answer is that they aren't - it's the key stage 2 marking scheme which is failing them.

I teach in a poorer area of Croydon where the low employment rate is matched by poor literacy standards in adults.

Yet at our school the children love to write, particularly the older boys.

This is not a new thing. I've taught in Year 6 for 10 years, and it is always the same; our boys love writing and they love finding and using new vocabulary.

When reading or being read to, they are straining to be the first to discover a new word; they enjoy re-ordering their sentences for the best possible effect and love sharing their findings with their classmates. My current Year 6 class is no exception and with me an enthusiastic convert to Ros Wilson's VCOP (vocabulary, connections, openers and punctuation), I would say that the love for "WOW" words is at its height!

So why do these same boys, some of whom are now aspiring to become authors, still gain only level 3s and low 4s in their Sats?

While I appreciate that spelling and punctuation are important, I am not convinced that JK Rowling would score well given the composition and effect mark scheme. For example, how can a boy who writes: "Nonchalant is how I would describe her... Surreptitiously John hit my icon...he felt the wrath of my mum as she loomed over him!" gain only a level 3?

We seriously need to reconsider what makes a good writer. Is it a child who is accurate with his spelling, neat with his handwriting and correct with his punctuation, or is it the child whose words bring tears to your eyes and goosebumps to your skin? I know which I would choose!

Jo Hussey

Fairchildes primary school

Fairchildes Avenue

New Addington

Croydon, Surrey

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