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The new grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS) tests for primary schools have courted significant controversy, ranging from former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen’s criticism of ‘terminology-itis’, to the more recent mix-up when genuine KS1 tests were published online, culminating in parent protests about primary school testing.

It’s no secret that the introduction of a separate and rigorous grammar, punctuation and spelling test as part of the new SATs literacy curriculum has placed even greater importance on technical English proficiency for children. With one paper of the new literacy SATs tests dedicated solely to an aural spelling assessment, one-third of the KS2 literacy mark-scheme is now also weighted towards spelling ability.

Julie Gill-Hall - Copy

To better understand the challenges presented to schools by the new grammar, punctuation and spelling tests, 3P Learning spoke to Julie Gill-Hall, a KS2 teacher at Mill Field Primary School in Leeds.

Following the introduction of the new tests, Mill Field Primary have detected increasing pressure on its pupils and a need to develop its teaching of technical English, as explained by Julie;

“We found that the new tests meant that the children’s true abilities were not reflected in their results.  For example, we found that significant numbers of pupils achieved a very reasonable score in the ‘Grammar and Punctuation’ sections of the test, but were unable to reach ‘Level 4’ because they had specific issues with spelling and were therefore at a disadvantage.

“The challenges of the new curriculum are particularly stark for our children who frequently struggle to understand the spelling rules.  We also recognise that to help their command of English, we need to teach some things which are not in the curriculum, such as double consonants, silent letters and irregular plurals.

“We don’t just want to teach to the test, we want them to be confident with all aspects of their English. We also like to invest in resources which pupils can access at home.

“As a result, we have had to really take stock of how we teach spelling and use resources such as Spellodrome to help us.”

Discover how Spellodrome can increase student engagement and mastery of grammar, punctuation and spelling, in and out of the classroom.