Teachers' Grammar Criticized By The Minister Of Education
'You're a dunce, Sir!' by David Nankervis The Sunday Mail, 25/9/05

Teachers blasted over 'shocking' spelling, grammar.

Many teachers cannot spell and there are hundreds of examples to prove it, the Federal Government says. Education Minister Brendan Nelson has released examples of teachers' spelling and grammatical mistakes, in a push to overhaul English education standards. One example included a teacher spelling Qantas as Quantas.

Dr Nelson said parents should be shocked. He blamed the shortcomings on the way Bachelor of Education students were taught at university.

"Parents have every reason to be concerned because a significant number of children are being let down," he said.

But university lecturers have hit back, accusing Dr Nelson of being an ignorant trouble-maker.

"Regarding the Qantas example, the teacher was right as far as the rules go (putting a U after a Q). Maybe the teacher had never flown Qantas before and didn't know how the company spelt its name," Flinders University primary school literacy and English lecturer Barbara Neilsen said. "I assure you some young teachers graduating today are brilliant and we are not helped by people blaming us, but helping us to do better."

Hundreds of examples were sent to Dr Nelson by parents from across the nation after he last month highlighted his concerns about teaching standards. One parent sent in a note written to her by an English teacher regarding the large number of uncorrected spelling mistakes in her son's exam. It said:

"This task was an assessment task set to test comprehension skills, and spelling and grammar were irrelevant."

Dr Nelson said one in five students left school with serious reading, writing and communication problems, which put them at a big disadvantage in the job market.

The Federal Government inquiry would rank states according to their teacher training levels and the results would be made public, Dr Nelson said.

"This will put pressure on the lower-ranked states to improve their performance and I'm hoping a national standard will be adopted," he said.

Queensland Education Minister Rod Welford accused Dr Nelson of

"a cheap publicity stunt. He has drawn on a few anecdotes of spelling errors to attack teachers. Everyone makes spelling mistakes occasionally. I'm sure there are plenty of spelling errors in letters that go out from politicians."