Good writing skills are as important now as they ever were – perhaps email becoming the preferred means of business-to-business communication.
As widely reported in the media, employers have for years been complaining that they’re being forced to take on school (and even university) leavers whose written English is so poor they have to pack them off for emergency refresher courses.
Couple this with the annual chorus of voices claiming exams are getting easier by the year, and there is clearly cause for concern about the UK’s ability to stay afloat in the global business world.
Trouble is, picking sides in the debate over the best solution is harder than preventing the bristles of your Tippex brush drying rock hard. And as everyone knows, that’s really tough.
On one side of the British Bulldog-style confrontation over our children’s education is the government. The coalition has recently announced plans to restore the traditional focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation via new tests in primary schools.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
The only problem is that the National Association for the Teaching of English says this new strategy will in fact “impoverish” teaching and turn children off the subject entirely at a younger age.
Dr Simon Gibbons, association chairman, claimed teachers were faced with “a reductive primary curriculum dominated by phonics, spelling, grammar and standard English – a throwback to the 1950s’ formal grammar teaching. The new tests will effectively hold a gun to the head of teachers who want to take risks. Motivation and engagement are the things that help children learn.”
Our team of business copywriters here at Wordsworks Towers would be out of a job if everyone who came through the school system was an expert writer. However, we do in our less lucid moments dream of a day when we see nary a misplaced apostrophe on a shop sign, nor a misplaced semi-colon in an email.
It could take a decade or more for the impacts of the government’s new strategy to demonstrate its merit, or lack thereof. But if it backfires… will it be too late to turn around the ship?