TEXT and Twitter chat is an increasing challenge for teachers to combat, according to a leading headteacher.

Caroline Jordan spoke out yesterday because she fears the use of “text speak” was eroding children’s grammar and spelling skills and hopes parents will apply greater standards at home.

Mrs Jordan, who is the head of independent all-girls school Headington School, said more attention should be paid to children’s use of language.

In a blog on the school’s website she also criticised Government plans for maths to be taught to pupils up to the age of 18 and said English should be protected “above all else”.

Currently both maths and English are only “core subjects” up to the age of 16 when schoolchildren take their GCSEs.

She said yesterday: “Children need to know that you need to write in the appropriate way for the appropriate audience.

“It is not incorrect to use text language when you are texting friends but if you are writing a formal letter, or a job application or personal statement when applying for a university place through UCAS then there is a correct form of grammar.

“It is a challenge for teachers and parents to teach them how to use language appropriately.”

She said the school encouraged pupils to understand different types of language, be it slang, dialects or rap, but children should be taught the same values at home.

Two years ago, linguist Professor David Crystal visited Cokethorpe School near Witney and argued the use of text language was not the “death knell” for the English language. He said some of the best texters were the best spellers.

But Mrs Jordan countered: “As children use digital and social media from younger ages it is perhaps harder to distinguish what is correct.

“Language will always evolve but there is a traditional form of language which will continue to exist.

“Parents need to be supporting their children at home and if they are seeing any of these abbreviations creeping into work then parents need to be able to address that.”

She added: “With words such as “wiv”, if children are using them when they are texting on a regular basis from a young age then there is the risk that they will start pronouncing it as “wiv” instead of “with”.”