The advice, condemned as “draconian” by teachers who have shared it widely on social media, also stipulates for a semi-colon inserted between the words ‘tomorrow’ and ‘I’ on one question: “Neither element of the semi-colon should start higher than the letter ‘I’.
“The dot of the semi-colon must not be lower than the bottom of the letter ‘w’ in the word ‘tomorrow’.
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There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth.
Like chastity, the concept of virginity has traditionally involved sexual abstinence.
One head teacher described the marking scheme as “beyond parody”.
The comments form part of a litany of complaints, posted using the hashtage #SATsshambles, about needless pedantry and inconsistency in the marking of the tests.
In one, a pupil who correctly punctuated ‘Jenna, a very gifted singer, won the talent competition’, was given zero marks because of her right-leaning commas.
The criticisms come two months after a cross-party committee of MPs warned that the “high stakes” SATs tests were endangering children’s learning and wellbeing.
In what teachers are calling a shambles beyond parody, primary schoolchildren are showing they know how to use punctuation in their SATs tests, but are being given no marks because their commas and semi-colons fail to meet strict official standards on shape and size.
In extraordinarily detailed advice signed off by the Government’s Standards and Testing Agency (STA), assessors were told to mark down semi-colons that fail to “adhere to the convention in relation to point of origin, height, depth and orientation”.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The key stage 2 tests assess the delivery of our new primary curriculum that ensures children are mastering the basics of literacy and numeracy.