School's Grammar Question For Kids Criticised By Michael Rosen: 'Improving Sentences By Making Them Worse'

'I have no idea what that means.' Can you work it out?

Parents often share their confusion over their kids’ maths homework questions, but it seems that isn’t the only school subject that baffles adults.

Children’s author Michael Rosen has shared a Facebook post of a child’s English grammar assignment, which required kids to “uplevel sentences”.

Rosen did not state the age group the schoolwork was aimed at, the consensus among parents in the comments was that this was the sort of homework their kids in KS2 (Years 3-6 in primary school) would get.

Sharing the post on 8 February, Rosen wrote: “I know you guys think I exaggerate. But this is for real. ‘Improving sentences’ by making them worse. Pray thanks to Gove and Gibb.”

For the homework, kids were given three sentences and had to “uplevel” them by: 1) Beginning the sentence with a fronted adverbial; 2) Use modifying nouns and adjectives to create expanded noun phrases; 3) Add an embedded relative clause beginning with who, which, that or whose and 4) Add a subordinating conjunction to give extra detail about the situation.

Rosen’s post had hundreds of comments from parents - and writers - who said they didn’t understand the assignement.

“I’m a writer. I have no idea what most of that means,” one woman wrote. “People pay me to write. I have no idea what most of that means. I am a professional writer. Of words. I have no idea what most of that means. My kids hate English because they are forced to confront this bollocks.”

Another wrote: “Me too - a writer who doesn’t know what this means. I didn’t even learn this stuff in Latin or French grammar at school.”

It seemed this isn’t rare among kids in primary school, as one parent explained: “My eight-year-old asked me to help him with homework like this. I had to tell him that I didn’t understand it. We read books and played games instead.”

And another mum wrote: “My 10-year-old loves reading, but puts off doing her English homework as it is this sort of stuff. It’s so dull, and just ridiculous at such a young age.”

Teachers also waded in on the debate, with one writing: “I’m used to seeing stuff like this as a regular visitor to upper Key Stage 2. When it’s introduced you get an audible *groan* from the kids as it’s so forced.”

A Department for Education spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “Homework is an important part of a good education and can have a positive impact as part of the curriculum. There is no legal requirement to set homework. It is up to the individual school to decide their own homework policy.”

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