Lessons on grammar are a key feature of the national curriculum taught in England’s primary schools but they don’t appear to help children to learn to write, new research reveals. 

The study, co-authored by researchers at the University of York and University College London and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that while grammar teaching had encouraging results when it came to children’s ability to generate sentences, there was no statistically significant improvement in their narrative writing.

Currently, the content of England’s national curriculum requires children aged six to seven to be taught grammatical terms such as: noun phrase, statement, command and tense. Older primary school children have to learn terms such as subordinate clause; adverbial; modal verb; active and passive. 

70 Year Two teachers in 70 primary schools and 1,736 pupils were recruited to the study. The teachers and their pupils were allocated at random to either receive the Englicious intervention programme or to have their usual grammar teaching. 

Lead author of the study, Professor Dominic Wyse from UCL, said: “Although teachers praised the Englicious intervention for its hands-on and interactive approach, our results match other experimental trials which do not provide enough robust support for extensive grammar teaching as the best way to improve writing.”

Melissa Heppell, Principal at Atlantic Academy Primary, is the first to admit that Englicious on its own is not enough. It all comes down to how effectively it is sewn into a lesson as ITV News discovered when reporter Sam Blackledge popped in for a creative writing session with students at Atlantic Academy Primary. 

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