From the beginning of the summer term 2017, Belvoirdale Primary School will become a cursive handwriting school. In cursive handwriting, the letters all run into one another and the hand runs across the page, never lifting between letters.
Many children struggle to form letters from an early age and this can continue through to Key Stage 2. With a move to cursive handwriting, children will be able to write neatly and more consistently much sooner in their school career. There are many advantages of cursive handwriting, including:
* Children will always know where to start a letter (always from the line).
* Ideas for writing will flow much more freely once joined cursive is mastered.
* Cursive handwriting is Dyslexia friendly.
* Children learn to join letters very quickly when taught cursive handwriting from an early age.
* Children can achieve higher assessment marks in KS1 and KS2 teacher assessment frameworks.
* Handwriting speed improves.
* Presentation is improved.
Cursive handwriting will begin during Foundation Stage, where children will be learn to form their letters with lead- in –strokes. This will continue into Year 1 and then in year 2, children will be joining all letters. Cursive handwriting will then continue to be perfected during Key Stage 2.
The grammar of our first language is learnt naturally and absorbed through speaking with others, listening and reading. Explicit knowledge of grammar (knowing how words and sentences work) is, however, very important, as it gives us more control and choice in our language and greatly improves the quality of our writing.
At Belvoirdale, we believe that building this knowledge is best achieved through a focus on grammar within the teaching of reading, writing and speaking. Once children are familiar with a grammatical concept [for example ‘verb’], they are encouraged to apply and explore the effect of deliberately using these in their own speech and writing.
Young children and EAL learners, in particular, use more complex language in speech than in writing. We use a range of creative teaching and learning methods for all children to build vocabulary, grammar knowledge, spelling and punctuation which is crucial to enable children develop high quality writing skills.
Your top 10 questions about the English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Test (SPaG test)
Here we answer the top 10 questions you have been asking us about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling test for primary school children.
1. What is the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test and why has it been introduced?
The new English grammar, punctuation and spelling test forms part of the National Curriculum tests which your child will take at the end of Key Stage 2. This test will assess your child’s understanding of these four English skills: grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and spelling.
There are two separate tests – one for children working at levels 3-5 in English and one for those working above level 5 in English (the level 6 test). Children who are working below level 3 in English don’t have to take the test.
The Department for Education is introduced the test last year because it wants to make sure that when children leave primary school they are confident in grammar, punctuation and spelling. This is why there is now a stronger emphasis in primary schools on teaching children grammar, punctuation and spelling skills than in previous years.
2. Will my child have to take the test? If so, when?
Your child will have to take the test that is appropriate for the level that they are working at in English. If your child is in Year 6, they will take the test in May, at the same time as the other National Curriculum tests.
3. There is already a writing test, isn’t there? Is this an extra test?
No, it isn’t an extra test – the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test replaces the original writing test. Your child’s teacher will make a separate judgement about how well your child is doing in writing by looking at their writing over the year.
4. Can you give me some examples of the sorts of things my child will be tested on?
The multiple choice and short sentence answers will assess your child’s ability to:
use connectives (because, despite, however, etc.)
capitalise the correct words in a sentence and explaining why
use plurals correctly
write sentences that illustrate two different meanings of the same word (such as present)
identify the verb/noun/adjective/adverb in a sentence
use I/me correctly
put the correct punctuation into a given sentence
The spelling test will test words in context, for example:
Sarah went to the library to get some more information.
5. How long is the test?
It will take about one hour. The levels 3-5 test has two parts. The first is a grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test. It is 45 minutes long and contains multiple choice and short-answer questions. The second part is a spelling
test which takes around 15 minutes, but is not strictly timed. This consists of 20 spellings which will be read out by your child’s teacher in the context of a sentence.
The level 6 test includes a test with short-answer questions, a spelling test, and an extended writing task. It takes around an hour altogether.
6. Will it change what and how my child is taught at school?
No, the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test won’t affect what your child learns at school. Your child is already taught these aspects of literacy as part of the National Curriculum. Although grammar, punctuation and spelling skills will now be assessed using a statutory test, this doesn’t mean they will be taught separately to writing composition.
7. Who will mark the test and when will I know how my child has done?
The tests will be marked externally like the other assessments at the end of Key Stage 2. The school will let you know your child’s result before the end of the summer term.
Information about your child’s progress in all aspects of literacy will be passed on to their new English teacher when they start secondary school, helping them to focus their lessons accordingly.
8. What can I do at home to help my child?
There are lots of fun ideas and free resources that you can use to help your child to prepare for the test. We have a special section on our school website with lots of links to games, activities and grammar jargon busters to help understand the grammar terms children are now taught.
9. What if my child has special educational needs?
The existing access arrangements for the Key Stage 2 tests apply to this new test as well, for example the provision for extra time, a reader or the use of a scribe.
Please talk to your child’s teacher, the school SENCO (Ms Doyle) or Ms Slattery about whether your child’s needs affect the way in which they complete the test, and how the test result will be used to inform the support your child will receive next year.
10. Where can I find more information about this test and are there any sample tests I can look at and practise with my child?
Yes, there is information for parents about the test on our website and also the Department for Education website. You can also download levels 3-5 and level 6 sample test papers here.
You may also be interested in reading the mark scheme for the tests as It contains the grammar and punctuation terms your child needs to be familiar with and shows how the various parts of the test will be marked.
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