What can we learn from the 2016 KS2 grammar test?

Shareen Mayers, August 2016
 
The build-up towards the 2016 grammar test was a tense one, as the sample paper seemed to be incredibly difficult for pupils and indeed, teachers. Provisionally, 72% of pupils achieved the expected standard on the KS2 grammar test. This is surprisingly positive because only 66% of pupils provisionally achieved the expected standard on the KS2 reading test. What can we learn from this year’s grammar test? 
 

Shareen's 5 top tips to support teachers:

1. Teach grammar in context

Teaching grammar in context is essential; words can mean different things depending on the context. Within the grammar test, pupils were asked to write the word point as a verb and as a noun. Approximately 50% of pupils answered this question correctly. Easy marks were also lost for not starting the sentence with a capital letter and ending with the appropriate punctuation. 
 
Please see my TeachWire article on how to teach reading and grammar through picture books.
 
And see this video of David Reedy (General Secretary of the UKLA) also discussing the importance of teaching grammar in context.
 

2. Revise and review areas from KS1 and KS2

Quite significantly, approximately 30% of the questions on the KS2 grammar, punctuation and spelling test were from KS1. This stresses the importance of a whole school approach to teaching grammar in context as this is not a year 6 test. 
 

3. Use the correct terminology 

 A significant amount of the questions tested the pupils’ knowledge of the terms. Without having detailed knowledge of what they meant, pupils were unable to answer these questions. 
 
Please see my Keen Kite article from last year on whole school primary grammar terms.
 

4. Explicitly teach spelling rules and spelling strategies

Notably, pupils found the questions on knowledge of spellings and spelling rules incredibly difficult. 
 
Q21 What does the root graph mean in the word family below? 
 
Q31 Explain how the different prefixes change the meanings of the two sentences below.
a) The chef said the pasta was uncooked. 
b) The chef said the pasta was undercooked. 
 
Q34a Write an explanation of the word antonym.
 
All of the above questions require pupils to either explain or tick their understanding of particular terms or spelling rules being used in context. It is therefore important to teach spelling rules for not only prefixes and suffixes but also the meaning of root words. 

5. Ensure the pupils give accurate answers

One important point to note is that within the grammar test, written responses must be grammatically correct. Sentences must start with a capital letter and end with the appropriate punctuation. Pupils lost easy marks due to not being accurate. Notably, verb forms, suffixes, prefixes and plurals must be spelt correctly. Pupils also lost marks for incorrect spellings. 
 
 
Shareen's new series Fill Grammar Gaps contains detailed lesson plans, plus pupil and interactive whiteboard resources to use in the classroom. They enable teachers to teach grammar in context using real texts.
 
(covers areas from
year 1 and year 2)

Year 6 
(covers areas from
both KS1 and KS2)

 
Visit the series page to download a free sample of both books
 
See the RAISEonline library for the DfE Question Level Analysis

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