One of the oddest ironies in life, here in the UK, is that most of us have spelling, punctuation, phonics and grammar thrust at us over a period of 10 years, and yet many don't seem to realise the importance of accuracy in these areas, well after they have left school.

Many years ago, I did some KS2 English SATs marking. Tortuous meetings took place to discuss the minutiae of allocating marks for answers containing spelling errors, and the advice was to apply discretion. With this in mind, I set about marking 250 scripts, in which there was a question asking candidates to label the diagram of a whale! An arrow pointed towards its tongue and the students were to write their answers on the line by it! There were 23 variations on the spelling, but it was a tad unfortunate that several labelled it as a 'lung':

tonge           tongne       tounge       touge       tog           toge       tge       tougugn

toungue      tong            taunge       trng          tongne    tnge       togue   tug

tung             tougnue      taugue      toong       tog          towng     townge