Spelling Matters. Hull University, Please Reconsider.

three hands throwing their graduation caps in the air

In a move that has sparked debate among educators, entrepreneurs and campaigners for inclusivity, Hull University has hit the headlines for having declared that ‘students will no longer be marked down for bad spelling’. Lexonik’s Phil Luke wades in on the controversy with his passionate take.

Judge me, applaud me or despise me, but I confess to being a spelling stickler.

Throughout my career, I’ve recruited people, promoted people, mentored and advised, but I’ve always been acutely conscious of the standard of spelling applied to anything I’ve received from colleagues or candidates.

In fact, on the occasions where I received a CV which featured multiple spelling mistakes, or where a covering letter was littered with inaccuracies which clearly hadn’t been checked – those individuals would never have made it to the next stage, and certainly not the final cut.

So am I pedantic?

Am I needlessly old-fashioned and overlooking the many other talents that people might have, aside from their ability to write correctly? I don’t think so.

Spelling accuracy matters

Far from being archaic, I think a commitment to spelling accuracy is very much like a life skill – it matters hugely, and it opens our world.

Hull University have taken an extraordinary step in declaring that they will not mark students down, and I’m afraid I just don’t see the suggestion that it is ‘elitist’ to expect accurate spelling as a justified reason for standards to slip.

Already, as a nation, we know from our research and day-to-day engagement with businesses, that we are ‘behind’ in literacy and spelling when compared to many other countries.

But the answer is surely not to ‘lower the attainment standard’, or, put another way, to ‘lower down’.

Expecting excellence

We should continue to expect excellence in this area, not only for what it enables an individual to achieve, but for what it does in respect of global reputation for our existing and future workforce.

Spelling correctly and competently has long created impressions of knowledge, but also of a desire to learn and commitment to diligent productivity – neither of which I think educators, parents, employers or world leaders would want us to lose.

A survey conducted back in 2015 by the CBI found 37% of employers to be dissatisfied with the standard of literacy and spelling among school and university leavers.

I now wonder, some six years on, whether the increased use of social media, of abbreviations and shortform communication, might mean this statistic would be far worse.

We should level up, not level down

It is claimed by Hull University that the decision to take this step is wholly linked to the fear of being elitist, and that they worry high spelling standards disadvantage those from other cultural backgrounds, or those from underperforming schools.

To me, this feels like the levelling down we should all be wanting to avoid, and we should do that by keeping intended attainment levels high, and helping our teachers and learners find the best way possible to improve their technique and comprehension.

Lexonik is rooted in the desire to change lives positively, through improving spelling strategies and delivering tools which will help everyone carry out a more fulfilled life. We don’t just hope it’s possible. We know it’s possible. We see the results every single day.

Sorry Hull University, but you really need to reconsider…and we’d happily write you an accurately spelled thesis on why!

If you feel like you want to learn more about our intervention programmes check them out here or if you’re looking for advice, get in touch.

Phil Luke
Lexonik • Sales and Partnerships Manager