Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, December 18, 1998 Published at 16:45 GMT


That's not how you spell it

Literacy standards have to improve to meet government targets

Spelling is an important element in the literacy tests taken by 11-year-olds, with the Department for Education expecting children to "understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately".

But the 1998 test results, published earlier this year, showed that many pupils were struggling with reading and writing. While the government wants 80% of children to achieve the expected level of literacy, at present only 65% reached this threshold.

So where are they going wrong? The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the agency that sets and administers these national tests, has now published examples of where this year's primary school leavers have failed to make the grade.

The spelling test for 11-year-olds consisted of the words listed below, here are the most common mistakes:

    most - mosted
    journey - jorney
    interesting - intresting
    exciting - exsisting
    cities - citys
    countryside - contryside
    materials - matirials
    delivered - deliverd
    centre - center
    required - requied
    successful - succesful
    known - none
    noisy - noisey
    engines - engins
    capable - capeable
    including - inclueding
    carriages - carriges
    developed - developd
    special - speshel
    invention - invension

Apart from spelling, the Department for Education has set other guidelines for the skills that a "literate primary pupil" should be able to demonstrate.

The education department's Standards and Effectiveness Unit says that pupils should be able to:

  • read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding
  • monitor their reading and correct their own mistakes
  • have fluent and legible handwriting
  • have an interest in words and their meanings and a growing vocabulary
  • know, understand and be able to write in fiction and poetry
  • understand and be familiar with some of the ways in which narratives are structured through basic literary ideas of setting, character and plot
  • understand, use and be able to write a range of non-fiction texts
  • be able to plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing
  • have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing
  • be interested in books, read with enjoyment and evaluate and justify their preferences
  • develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness through reading and writing

In pursuit of these targets the government has put in place a National Literacy Strategy, which includes the introduction of a "literacy hour", in which primary schools devote an hour each day for the specific purpose of improving reading and writing.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Education Contents

Hot Topics
UK Systems
League Tables

Relevant Stories

18 Dec 98 | Education
Boys slip further behind girls at school

21 Dec 98 | Education
Books for babies

22 Oct 98 | Education
Blunkett hails summer school 'success'

Internet Links

National Literacy Strategy

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

Department for Education and Employment

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

'Golden hellos' fail to attract new teachers

Children join online Parliament

Pupils 'too ignorant to vote'

Red tape toolkit 'not enough'

Poor report for teacher training consortium

Specialist schools' results triumph

Ex-headmaster guilty of more sex charges

Blunkett welcomes Dyke's education commitment

Web funding for specialist teachers

Local authorities call for Woodhead's sacking

Dyslexic pensioner wins PhD

Armed forces children need school help

Black pupils 'need better-trained teachers'

College 'is not cool'