MP says teachers should be tougher on spelling mistakes

MP's war on bad spelling Credit: ITV Anglia

An MP is calling on teachers to get tough on spelling mistakes.

Andrew Selous, Tory MP for South West Bedfordshire said teachers at one secondary school in his constituency were putting a maximum of three spelling corrections on their pupils' work in case they "damage their self-esteem".

He fears thousands of teachers across the country are toning down their marking for fear of knocking children's self-confidence.

He said it was an "act of false kindness" for teachers not to correct all spelling mistakes as pupils would leave school without the "fundamental" skills needed in the job market.

Mr Selous, who has decided not to name the school in his constituency, said he was alerted to the policy by a worried parent.

In the letter to Mr Selous, the mother wrote: "I have spent many hours of frustration letter-writing but no-one is able to help or offer support. My children are hard-working but they need to be given the basic building blocks of English."

Mr Selous said he believed the coalition Government had not issued guidance stipulating children should be marked leniently but thought it was an old policy which schools had been too slow to drop.

Earlier, Mr Selous raised the issue in the House of Commons as he called for a debate among MPs on the issue.

A spokesman at the Department for Education said: "There is no Government guidance regarding the correcting of spelling mistakes - this is a matter for schools.

"However, we strongly agree that it is vital that children learn correct spelling and grammar, and we are making a range of changes to emphasise its importance, including a new test at Key Stage 2 which includes spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary, and enhanced importance given to spelling at GCSE.

"Being able to write correctly is essential for adult life. Schools that do not ensure that their pupils can spell and write correctly will be failing them."