Grammar policy and pedagogy from primary to secondary school

I. Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Grammar is a key focus of current UK national curriculum policy, at both primary and secondary school level. But grammar policy across these levels is incongruous: at primary level, policy is largely prescriptive, framing language as a system of constraints and rules, whereas at secondary level, policy is much more geared towards descriptive, functional linguistics. Using data acquired from a survey with 275 secondary English teachers and interviews with 24 secondary English teachers, I critically explore how the incongruity of primary–secondary level grammar policy is impacting upon grammar pedagogy at secondary level. Using a combination of thematic and metaphor analysis, I show how many teachers report secondary students conceptualising grammar as a list of technical terms, with little idea or experience of how to use this knowledge in applications such as critical reading or creative writing. I also show how some secondary teachers were aiming to integrate grammar into their teaching, looking to build and develop on the grammatical knowledge students have from primary level. The data show that teacher and student conceptualisations of grammar are shaped by curriculum policy, and I call for a more coherent and coordinated vision of grammar across primary and secondary level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-179
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Early online date11 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2019


  • critical applied linguistics
  • grammar curriculum
  • grammar pedagogy
  • language policy
  • metaphor


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