POLITICS

David Cameron Ducks Grammar Test Set By Caroline Lucas At PMQS

Implied his private education left him ill-prepared on the subject

04/05/2016 14:17 | Updated 04 May 2016

David Cameron has refused to answer a grammar test faced by 11-year-olds - and in the process suggested his own private education wasn’t up to scratch.

In the zinger of the day at Prime Minister’s Questions, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas asked him to answer her English SATS question "for the benefit of the house and 10 and 11-year-olds up and down the country".

The MP asked if he could "explain what the past progressive tense is, differentiate between a subordinating conjunctive and a coordinating conjunctive and finally will he please set out his definition of a modal verb?”

Labour, Lib Dem and SNP MPs roared with laughter as Cameron ducked the question.

But he replied: "The whole point of these changes is to make sure our children are better educated than we are!”

PA/PA Archive
Caroline Lucas

Critics were quick to spot the implicit suggestion was that his own private school education - he attended Heatherdown and then Eton - had been below par on the topic of grammar.

And Cameron added: “I’m delighted with three children at state schools taking these tests.”

Some parents pulled their children out of school this week in protest at the newly rigorous SATS tests in primary schools.

Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

Earlier this week, Schools Minister Nick Gibb also flunked a grammar test set by Martha Kearney on Radio 4’s The World At One programme.

"Let me give you this sentence: 'I went to the cinema after I'd eaten my dinner’. Is the word 'after' there being used as a subordinating conjunction or as a preposition?,” the presenter asked.

Gibbs replied: ”Well it's a preposition”, before being told by Kearney ”I don't think it is!"

"This isn't about me," Gibb told the programme. "This is about ensuring that future generations of children, unlike me - who was not taught grammar at primary school - are taught grammar properly.

The minister, who was educated at the privately-run Bedford School, added: "So that when they are asked to write at secondary school, when they go to university and they are asked to write an essay, it isn't a struggle to constructed a properly crafted and grammatically correct sentence."

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