Letter: Talk to teachers about English grammar

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The Independent Online
Sir: To suggest that the aim of the new proposals on the teaching of English is to bring together parents and teachers in a 'new consensus' over English teaching ('Grammar under the hammer', 4 February) is to obscure one of the major concerns in the present controversy: there is no 'consensus' between teachers and the Government whose agents insist on imposing new demands without consultation with the professionals who are most concerned with their implementation.

Many English teachers will resent the implication that they were ever concerned with anything less than developing pupils' capacity to speak and write correctly or that they deprived them of their literary heritage.

Such matters have always been the cornerstone of the English curriculum in schools, though there has been a healthy debate about the most effective means of delivering this. What is worrying at the moment is that Standard English, formal grammar and access to literary heritage are being presented as a return to 'standards'.

Far from offering liberation, the proposals are an attempt to limit choice and stifle individuality in favour of a received wisdom which has its origins in the school experience of yesteryear and has little appreciation of the realities of present-day classrooms.

Until the Government takes account of the expertise of teachers in their own subject, pupils will continue to be denied the curriculum they deserve.

Yours faithfully,


Head of English

Wisbech Grammar School



4 February