We don’t need no … spelling and grammar …

One in three boys at primary school today believe Pink Floyd’s Number One hit “We Don’t Need No Education” should be rewritten to read “We Don’t Need No Spelling and Grammar”.

They think that they no longer need to learn the basics because of the invention of a wonderful tool called spellchecker (sarcasm Sheldon Cooper). A similar number say they would never or rarely write anything outside of a lesson.

The study, by the National Literacy Trust, also reveals that one in five say they would be “embarrassed” if any of their friends found them writing out of school.

The boys’ lack of enthusiasm for writing contrasts starkly with girls – one out of three of whom say they write out of class every day.

A breakdown of the research shows that 30.6 per cent of boys thought there was no point in learning spelling and grammar as a result of spellcheckers – compared with 21.7 per cent of girls – while 30.2 per cent of boys said they never or rarely wrote out of class compared with 17.3 per cent of boys.

On being embarrassed to be found writing out of school, the figures were 19.5 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively.

More than one in three girls (35.2 per cent) thought writing was “cool” compared with 26.8 per cent of boys.

The NLT report reflects a direct link between children’s enjoyment of writing and their results at school. Of those who say they do not enjoy writing, more than half fail to reach the recommended standard in national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds.

Julie Gibbins, senior programme manager at the NLT, said: “Reading and writing go hand-in-hand and it is through writing that children learn to formulate thoughts and improve their creativity and thinking skills. It’s down to teachers as well as parents to nurture a love of writing in boys and help to develop positive attitudes towards it early on in their education.”

The survey, which covered 35,000 eight to 16-year-olds, coincided with the second phase of the charity’s Transforming Writing project, which aims to raise attainment in primary schools through giving pupils more say over what they read. In the first schools to take part in the project, 68 per cent of all pupils made more progress than expected – with no discernible difference in the performance of the sexes.


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