Next term sees the introduction of a re-vamped English writing test for year 6 children as part of the key Stage 2 National Curriculum tests. The new test will assess children’s skills in spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary and has been introduced with the intention of encouraging primary schools to give more focus to the teaching of these key skills.

The aim is for more children to make the transition from primary to secondary school with the competence to communicate effectively through writing and hence succeed across the breadth of subjects within the secondary curriculum. From 2013, a new marking structure for GCSE exams will give credit for correct punctuation, spelling and grammar in key subjects. Mastering these skills in primary school should stand the child in good stead for future performance in public exams and into employment beyond.

The new test will comprise two papers, a spelling task and a short answer paper, assessing pupils on correct use of punctuation, appropriate grammar usage including knowledge of nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions and the correct use of tenses and pronouns. The spelling task will test ability to spell commonly misspelt words. Supporting your child with preparation and practice might be challenging for some parents, particularly for those educated in the 70’s and 80’s when grammar was not the focus of English teaching methodology. Tenses, abstract nouns, past participle and subordinate clauses may seem like double Dutch!

For parents who wish to see what the new test will entail, sample papers can be downloaded from the DfE website via the link