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Keep parents out of it: the expert who wants schools to give up weekly spelling tests

Sending home lists of words to learn with stressed-out parents does not help children, says literacy guru Jane Considine

Jane Considine is an educationist with a cause: she wants a total ban on the time-honoured, traditional weekly spelling tests still carried out in many primary schools – the kind that involve a list of words sent home in pupils’ book bags to be taped to the fridge door, with parents expected to weigh in with “look-say-cover-write-check” opportunities in those elusive moments of empty time in the family day. “I’m not anti tests generally,” Considine says. “But school spelling tests have an essential design flaw, which is that involving parents hugely amplifies the opportunity to pile on stress and pressure.”

Parents, says Considine, are A* students when it comes to modelling anxiety– especially anxiety about spelling. And while she couldn’t agree more with parents who say that spelling really matters, she also understands (as a mother of four herself) why passion gets caught up with worries about performance – with the net result that children are disadvantaged, rather than advantaged, by taking home a list of words each week to be fretted over en famille.

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Content Creator: Joanna Moorhead


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