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Are We Raising a Generation of Mills and Boon Writers?

22/01/2016 10:26 GMT | Updated 21/01/2017 10:12 GMT

I've reached that stage in life where my children's homework becomes ever more mystifying to me. I didn't think this would happen until secondary school. I certainly didn't think it would happen in Year 2. But already my tiny baby boy is bringing home instructions for "story maps", "interactive pictures" and other things that we never did at the age of 6. And today in the bath, he confused me further still.

"School have abandoned said" he said, as he stuck an Octonaut to the edge of the bath with a flannel.

Nope, I had no idea what that sentence meant. I asked him to repeat and clarify. He didn't clarify. Instead he just repeated: "School have abandoned said".

It took me a while but I think I worked it out - school have told the Year 2s that they can no longer use the word "said" in their creative writing. Instead, the superheroes that my boy writes about have to "cry", "exclaim" or "utter" things.

"What does "utter" mean?" he asked

"Same as "said"" said my husband, succinctly.

Now, I get the reasoning behind this ruling - they want kids to spice up their writing, use a variety of words and really consider what their word choice. But they're six. They should still be working out how to write a story, not worrying about whether they've used the same word twice in a paragraph. He has been taught story structure - beginning, middle and end - but that was in Reception, when ideally he should have still been working out the difference between curly /k/ and kicking /k/. Now, my daughter is doing phonics in the nursery, at the age of three, and my son is having to dig out the thesaurus to do his homework.

It's safe to say that the education system has gone a little crazy at the moment. The new curriculum demands everything sooner and younger and schools have to meet government demands. Metaphors and long division in Year 1. Now it's all WOW words and joined up writing.

I can't say I'm a fan of WOW words...it tends to lead to overly fussy writing which at best is clumpy and at worst incomprehensible. My niece and nephew wrote a thesaurus-ed bit of Harry Potter fanfic when they were at primary school and replaced any boring words with more exciting variants. Hence the sentence: "Fred and George said Hogwarts was disgusting...but you could never affirm those two".

But on the upside, there is a market for people who only want their characters to "cry", "sigh", "whisper" and "plead". After all, when did you ever here anyone saying anything in Mills and Boon? So there you go son, your career path is laid out for you. There might be a few more things you need to know before you start writing adult romance, but I'll leave that up to your father to explain. He'll be succinct...