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Homeschooling has revealed the absurdity of England’s national curriculum

My eight-year-old daughter is being called to spot expanded noun phrases. My 11-year-old son fills in checklists of "success criteria." Are we raising children or robots?

By Eliane Glaser   April 2021

In normal times, my cheery “So, how was school?” rarely receives more than a grunted “OK.” But homeschooling is revealing what my children actually do all day. And the discovery has come as a shock.

My 11-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter go to a perfectly decent state primary, which has valiantly provided worksheets week by week throughout our successive lockdowns. But I read them with incredulity, hilarity—and horror.

My daughter is told to improve her writing using “PUGS (Punctuation, Up-levelling, Grammar and Spelling).” (“Up-levelling,” I gather, means “improving.”) Meanwhile, she is left finding comprehension incomprehensible: “Use evidence from the text to justify your thinking!”—the exclamation mark failing to animate the task, which involves describing the appearance and personality of protagonists; or spotting expanded noun phrases. (I kid you not.)

Suspicious, I took out their old exercise books, which I’d shamefully only ever briefly glanced at in…

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