View from the staffroom

14th October 2005 at 01:00
TES website users give their views on correcting errors

Saxa. As an English teacher, I don't mark all spelling mistakes in every piece of work. Where the pupil's spelling is very weak, I will tend to concentrate on a few which can be grouped together as being similar, and then remind them of the relevant spelling rule - or draw attention to a rule we have been looking at in class.

With a very able child, there may be only one or two to correct, and then I will correct all - but often with a comment such as "good choice of word".

If I feel the problem is lack of careproofreading, I will put "sp." in the margin rather than correcting it. Why should I do it for them?!

I think colleagues in other subjects often focus on key words or technical terms, which makes sense to me; but it would help to reinforce the message if common problems (eg theretheir) were corrected or underlined by all teachers.


I teach languages and have absolutely no chance of getting across the importance of accuracy in a foreign language if the children are not made to do it in their mother tongue. My department has a strict marking code for inaccuracies of all descriptions, probably more strict than in most English departments.

Incorrect English makes otherwise intelligent people look uneducated and ignorant in the outside world - why not prepare children properly while they're still at school? You wouldn't tell someone who thinks 2+2=5 that a slight inaccuracy doesn't matter!


As a literacy co-ordinator who is not an English specialist, I believe literacy (not just spelling) is the responsibility of all and as a result we have recently introduced a whole school marking policy, covering spelling, sentence structure and paragraphing. Sounds like hard work? Not when everyone knows the "code".

Language should be cross-curricular, it is part of all our subjects; it should be thought about and taught about, as well as assessed, by all.

Pupils should also learn to correct their own mistakes. In English, editing is an important part of the writing process. When do pupils get the time or encouragement to do this in other lessons?


Students should leave school able to communicate effectively. What is most preposterous here is the notion that you shouldn't highlight mistakes of children with learning difficulties. They, more than any other children, need to become adept at using a dictionary.

A learning difficulty statement should mean that the pupil receives extra time and support to achieve the same as the others, not be excused from attempting to do so. There is a very good reason for this. In any language accuracy and precision - learning the rules before you learn how to break them - are critical.


Consistency of codes, shorthand etc, is not what limits me. It is the rigid structure that I have to follow... right down to the colour of pen I have to use. It takes the pleasure out of looking at students' work.

Marking should be a dialogue between teacher and student, not a process akin to a dentist's filling.


The dilemma regarding spelling and marking arises mostly from the desire to teach them versus a desire to build self-confidence. I highlight words mis-spelt by more than one pupil to the whole class. This allows pupils to understand why the spelling was wrong, while letting them know they are not alone. It also means pupils can in future ask their neighbours how to spell something. The one drawback with this approach is the time it takes.

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