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Why nearly a quarter of pupils failed controversial Sats semi-colon question

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Marked Spag test papers suggest some pupils were penalised because of the shape of their semi-colons

Almost one in four Year 6 children failed to answer a question about semi-colons correctly in this year’s spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) test.

The question asked pupils where to put a semi-colon in the sentence:

"Come and see me tomorrow I will not have time to see you today" 

But it made national news headlines after it emerged that “secret” guidance had been given to markers on the correct size, height and orientation of the semi-colon, and that some pupils who had put the semi-colon in the right place in the sentence did not get the mark.

Writing consultant Pie Corbett, described the question as an “affront”.

“The basic thing is whether a child knows where the semi-colon goes, and surely we want to credit children with what they know,” he said. “It’s a grammar test, not a calligraphy test.

"If they are being tested on the slope of the comma, everyone needs to know that is what they are being tested on. When people set up testing systems and put things like that in, it's not fair because no-one knew that was being tested and it is ridiculously pedantic.

While many students failed to gain the mark from this question we offer an exclusive service for Young Achievers and have a large amount of experience in teaching English Skills.

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