New assessment report from the Office for Students

A publication this month from the Office for Students (OfS) reports on assessment practices in relation to spelling, punctuation and grammar. This was partly informed by reports from employers that graduates were not meeting their expectations of proficiency in literacy skills.

According to the report (paragraph 7b), ¬†“Accurate and effective spelling, punctuation and grammar matter from an academic perspective. Wherever a discipline requires analysis, effective communication is critical if students are to demonstrate an ability to engage with and convey complex arguments. This cannot be done without technically proficient use of sentence and paragraph structure, syntax, and other features of language”.

The current form of the BU Generic Assessment Criteria (6f) sets out the expectation of clear forms of communication in the section heading¬†Transferable skills – including communication, exercise of initiative, personal responsibility and decision-making. Whilst spelling, punctuation and grammar are not specifically¬†referred to, there is an expectation of clarity of writing style in the criteria for every level and grade band, which encompasses these aspects of academic writing. For example at Level 5 in the 60-69% mark range the expectation is that “Ideas, problems and solutions are communicated to a very good level in verbal, written and electronic formats. The style is accurate and fluent.”

When providing feedforward or feedback this is an area that markers can comment on, to promote the development of these important transferable skills that support employability.


Anne Quinney

Academic Lead / Theme Leader for Assessment & Feedback, FLIE.



3 Responses to “New assessment report from the Office for Students”

  1. Jane's avatar Jane

    Thanks Anne, very useful and an additional justification for penalising in this area where necessary

  2. Chris Williams's avatar Chris Williams

    You might want to change ‘proficient’ to ‘proficiency’ in para 1 before you get a barrage of messages.

    • Anne Quinney's avatar Anne Quinney

      Thank you! Well-spotted – I’ve edited it now. I should have checked that my computer hadn’t made daft automatic suggestions.


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