Policy, Pedagogy and the Policing of “nonstandard” English

To what extent does children’s spoken dialect influence their writing? Does correcting pupils’ speech improve their writing? What consequences might overt correction have for pupil participation and learning? Research by Julia Snell (School of English) and her colleague Ian Cushing (Edgehill University) set out to addresses these questions through investigation of primary school children’s writing, video recorded literacy lessons, Ofsted inspection reports, government language policy, and interviews with teachers and pupils. The research finds that despite the attention it receives in educational policy and discourse, spoken dialect grammar is not a major issue in relation to developing children’s writing. Yet the narrative that spoken dialect is a “problem” is driving policy and practices that are detrimental to classroom talk and pupil learning, undermining attempts to promote educationally productive talk at school. TES published a summary of the research 13th September 2022. The journal article which reports the research in full is available open access in Literacy.