The teaching of English grammar, punctuation and spelling has been handed over to the classics department at a leading independent school which is providing remedial lessons for new entrants.
Richard Cairns, the head teacher of Brighton College, East Sussex, says he is appalled by the sloppy writing of many pupils coming to the school at the age of 13.
He has introduced a compulsory weekly grammar lesson for all new pupils, which is taught by classicists, who say there can be no progress in Latin or Greek unless children have a grasp of the building blocks of language.
"For too long, too many English departments have neglected to teach the basics, opting instead for the instant gratification of lessons in literature, " he said.
"The consequence is a generation of young people with no understanding of the role of the apostrophe."
Mr Cairns said people might regard the lessons as a reactionary step but they could also be viewed as visionary. "What matters is whether they prepare children better for the future."
... if only such logic would prevail on this side of the pond; then again, there's hardly any Latin in Canada either. What I find really annoying teaching at the grade 7/8 level is having to mark student writing in a curriculum which stresses 'communication' (even in math and science), but there is insufficient time allotted to hammer the basics of grammar into the students (we don't even have time to adequately have a spelling program!).