Jonathan Hewett responds to the call from the Office for Students to punish ‘poor writing skills’
I despair at the Office for Students’ recommendations that universities punish students for poor writing skills (Universities in England ‘failing to mark down students’ for poor writing skills, 7 October).
It reminds me of the feedback on my first university essay, post-state school, where my tutor criticised the use of the contraction “could’ve” more than the substance of my writing. I learned the lesson, but it could have been presented in a more sympathetic way; my parochial education had simply not taught me the correct way or corrected me. Whether it’s using French as the language of court, Nancy Mitford’s “U” speech, or universities marking down students for not having learned Latin grammar at school, language and vocabulary have long been used by the upper classes to arbitrarily distinguish themselves from the lower, less educated classes.