I really, really dislike the Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not campaigning for a Sats boycott. KS2 tests in whatever format are here to stay but the GP&S test is wrong on so many levels.
First of all, why on earth do the children need to remember the names of grammar terms? Surely what is important is being able to use grammar effectively in their own writing? Talking to colleagues who teach English up to A level and they are amazed at the demands of the Year 6 curriculum and cannot see the need for it. In my experience, my children use the past progressive and past perfect effectively in their writing but sadly can’t always remember the names correctly in a test situation.
This need to revert back to grammatical structures and rules of the 1950s for children at school in the 21st century seems to be total madness and unproductive to say the least. Because I am having to spend so much time learning the names of grammar rules, I have less time to teach them how to write well. How can that possibly be seen as a good thing?
The aspect of the GP&S tests that really annoys me though is the mark scheme. Unlike the Maths or Reading papers, the Grammar test is not interested in what the children can do; it is trying to catch them out. If you look at any questions on the Reading or Maths papers where the children have to give 4 or 5 answers, then these are 2 mark questions and the children will receive 1 mark for getting most of the questions right. Not so on the Grammar paper. Many of the questions have multiple elements, sometimes as many as 6 things needing to be found and all of these questions are worth just one mark. If a child misses a single one eg forgets to circle London in question 26 of the sample paper, then they receive no recognition at all for the fact that they really do understand the use of capital letters.
The paper states that the pupils have 45 minutes to do 36 questions but in reality there over double that number but very few marks available for them. This to my mind is simply wrong. If a child is able to create new words using suffixes in 4 out of 5 cases, then they surely have a good grasp of what they are doing and should be given credit for what they know. The Grammar paper should use the same format as the Reading and Maths papers and let children receive marks for the things that they get correct rather than one error cancelling out several correct answers which is the case in many of the grammar questions at present.