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Monday, 13 December, 1999, 11:06 GMT
Spelling out school improvement

The government is to specify words children should be able to spell The government is specifying words pupils should be able to spell


Spelling tests are to be used more frequently to raise literacy standards in primary schools in England.

The government is to specify lists of words that it expects children to be able to spell correctly - such as expecting 10-year-olds to be able to spell "marvellous".

But headteachers' leaders have not welcomed the proposal, accusing the government of interfering too much in the day to day running of schools.

Under-performing schools are expected to be the first to introduce regular spelling tests, which will be used as a way of monitoring progress in how well children are learning to read.


David Hart David Hart has accused the government of "interventionitis"
Although unlike the national curriculum tests, the spelling tests will not be centrally administered, all primary schools will be expected to carry them out.

Examples of the words which pupils will be expected to spell include "gnash" (for eight-year-olds), "quickly" (for nine-year-olds), "marvellous" (for 10-year-olds) and "aeronaut" (for 11-year-olds).

But such requirements are an unnecessary imposition on schools, says David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, who described the government's proposals as "interventionitis".

"I don't know any primary school in the country that doesn't have regular spelling tests anyway," said Mr Hart.

"We simply don't believe that there is any justification for yet more central government control in an area where standards are improving."

The push to improve spelling is the latest element in the government's efforts to raise abilities in the basics of literacy and numeracy.

It comes the day before the Chief Inspector of Schools in England, Chris Woodhead, publishes a report into the progress of the national campaign to improve literacy in primary schools.

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See also:
06 Oct 99 |  Education
Boys close the gap over reading
23 Mar 99 |  Features
Catching up with reading
03 May 99 |  Education
Heads back literacy drive
05 Jul 99 |  Education
Writing is literacy hour's weak point

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