Today’s Times – Saturday August 1st – reports that proof readers have been hired by West London Free School to check reports before they are sent home. Toby Young, the school’s founder and Chief Executive is reported as saying:
“Spelling and grammar mistakes made by younger teachers are common because many have not been properly taught.”
Then are we to believe that one of the government’s flag-ship schools is hiring teachers who have not themselves been properly taught? What chance then for their pupils? If these improperly-taught younger teachers cannot write accurately they will not be able to point out to pupils their errors, which become ingrained if not challenged. This concern about teacher literacy applies of course to all teachers for most of a pupil’s writing of English will be in subjects other than English.
At the end of my marking of O-level English language papers in 1987, London University’s Chief Examiner reminded markers that a sixteen year-old who passed should be able to take a solicitor’s notes and turn them into an accurate, formal letter. I still believe that his is a reasonable expectation of an educated adult. Another reasonable expectation of educated adults is that they can check or proof read what they have written – so necessary when writing something formal or official, such as a school report or a blog.
I have recently completed a draft English language textbook for young adults which has been much commended by teachers, stroppy adolescents, parents, older ex- tearaways, the Director of Research at Cambridge Assessments and others. Further details can be found at:- http://www.peterinson.net/better-english/