Ann backs English Language GCSE reforms

Labour AM for the Vale of Clwyd, Ann Jones, has backed the decision by the Education Minister to stand by the new GCSE English Language specification which places a greater emphasis on spelling, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure.

Chair of the Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, Ms Jones said: “Many young people were disappointed by their January GCSE unit result – having been predicted higher results by their teachers.

“It is important that results accurately reflect pupil’s ability and grammar, punctuation and spelling are a core part of the English language and it is only right and proper that examiners take these into account when marking papers. I see no value in the ability to write creatively if none of the words are spelt correctly.

“University lecturers and employers far too often complain that young people’s proficiency in these key areas of the language are not at the standard that they require and this new focus on the basics should mean that teachers pay more attention to ensuring that our children have the foundation skills of language. Not giving sufficient regard to spelling and punctuation is unacceptable and is tantamount to poor teaching.

“We have committed to drive up standards in education across Wales and I think that these new rigorous reforms are right and I support them.

The Education Minister, Huw Lewis, ordered an immediate review following claims of low January English Language GCSE grades. The review has made a number of recommendations.

The review found ‘no one single aspect’ contributed to the results and that there is ‘no evidence to suggest that WJEC did not follow the correct procedures’ – but said the recommendations would ‘address the concerns of learners, parents and practitioners’ and ‘help to build confidence’ across the system.