Teachers to boycott grammar tests

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English teachers have agreed to support a boycott of new, formal grammar tests for 14-year-old pupils. Members of the National Association for the Teaching of English have backed a boycott if the tests, to be piloted next month, become compulsory next year. They say that the new tests are not the best way to improve pupils' grammar.

Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, says that the tests in spelling, punctuation and grammar are necessary because of widespread concern that pupils are unable to use language correctly when they leave school. The association has already written to heads of English departments in schools expressing concern about the tests and suggesting that they should think carefully before taking part in the pilot.