Handwriting is a skill that, like reading and spelling, affects written communication across the curriculum. Children must be able to write with ease, speed and legibility. Handwriting skills should be taught regularly and systematically.
At Netheravon All Saints, handwriting is taught using the Penpals scheme (Cambridge University Press) as a guide. Children are initially taught to form their letters using a basic style. Letters are taught as part of phonics learning and introduced according to the Sounds-Write phonics scheme. As letters are introduced they are displayed as part of ‘letter families’ that form the basis of future handwriting practice. The letter families are as follows:
|Caterpillar||c a d e g o q f s||0 6 8 9|
|One-arm robot||b h k m n p r||2 3 5|
|Long ladder||i j l t u y|
|Zig-zag||v w x z||1 4 7|
|Working at the expected level||Working at greater depth|
|Key stage 1||Form capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another and to lower-case letters||Use the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join some letters.|
|Key stage 2||Maintain legibility in joined handwriting when writing at speed||No further additions|
As they move through the school, children subsequently learn the appropriate joins (horizontal, diagonal or none) between adjacent letters.
Children take part in activities to develop their fine and gross motor skills. They develop a recognition of and ability to replicate pattern. They are given many and frequent opportunities for independent mark-making. Children learn how to hold a pencil correctly using a tripod grip. They learn how to use a pencil effectively to form recognisable letters. By the end of Reception the majority of children are expected to be forming letters correctly using a basic script.
Key Stage 1
Children build on their correct letter formation by learning to add short lead-out ‘flicks’ where appropriate and by learning to join certain letters with diagonal and horizontal strokes both in line with their phonics and spelling learning, and according to the agreed handwriting scheme. Children have separate handwriting books and handwriting is taught discretely at least once a week. Children are taught to leave finger spaces, sit their writing on the line and to form capital and lower case letters of the correct size relative to one another and with the correct orientation. Correct modelling and correction of errors by teaching staff continues to be essential. Incorrect formation and/or joining is always challenged. It is expected that by the end of Key Stage 1 the majority of children will be correctly joining their handwriting across the curriculum.
Key Stage 2
The target for children in Key Stage 2 is to produce a fluent, rapid and consistently formed style of cursive handwriting that enables them to communicate their ideas across the curriculum with ease. To achieve this, children continue to have discrete handwriting sessions at least once a week. For this purpose, each child has a handwriting book and good practice in these books is expected to be reflected in their writing across the curriculum. Handwriting continues to be taught using the agreed scheme, and children are taught the value of pride in the presentation of their work.
Children write with pencils until the class teacher assesses that they are joining competently and consistently. When they are assessed to be doing so, they are able to earn a pen licence and are given a handwriting pen to use.
Incorrect letter formation/joins and poor handwriting are always challenged.
Provision for left-handed children
All teachers are expected to be aware of the specific needs of left-handed pupils and to make appropriate provision for them:
- Paper/book should be positioned to suit the individual.
- Pencils should not be held too close to the point as this can interrupt pupils’ line of vision.
- Pupils should be positioned so that they can place their paper/book in the most comfortable and efficient position for writing.
- Extra practice with left-to-right exercises may well be necessary before pupils write left-to-right automatically.
- Materials and practice examples are prepared to ensure that children are able to access them properly.
The correct posture for handwriting is encouraged at all times and practised and reinforced in handwriting sessions:
- Chairs and desks within classrooms are matched to children’s age and height.
- Children’s backs should be straight and feet resting on the floor.
- The hand which is not holding the pencil or pen must be holding the paper or book.
Classrooms are equipped with a range of writing implements and materials including whiteboards and pens, HB pencils, lined and unlined paper, line guides and individual whiteboards and pens.
Adults model correct handwriting at all times according to the agreed scheme and the stage of handwriting development of the children in their class. Where display labels are handwritten, this is according to the agreed scheme. All classrooms clearly display the correct letter formation for both capital and lower case according to the stage of handwriting development of the children and these are referred to regularly during teaching. These can be found at Appendix B.
When handwriting is a challenge
Some children find handwriting difficult and as a result do not make progress in line with the steps detailed above. In all such instances, school will seek to find the cause of the difficulty and put strategies in place to support the child as much as possible. This process will be carried out in line with the school Identification of SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) process and strategies may include exercises to improve fine motor skills, implements such as pencil grips and writing slopes, or referrals to external professionals if deemed necessary.
Children who join the school part-way through
Children who join the school part-way through a class or key stage will have their handwriting assessed by the class teacher. Where letters and/or joins are incorrect, or other inconsistencies occur, the correct version will be taught according to the school scheme. Where a child joins the school with clear, neat, correct and rapid handwriting that enables them to express themselves easily in writing, this should not be corrected or ‘unlearnt’ to bring it in line with the school scheme unless the child wishes to do so and can do so easily.
At the time of writing, school is implementing a phased change to the agreed handwriting style. While children who start(ed) Reception in September 2018, 2019, 2020 and beyond will be taught handwriting in line with the agreed scheme described above and move through the school learning this style, children who started Reception prior to September 2018 and who have been learning to form letters using ‘lead-ins’ to assist with joining will continue to do so until they have left the school. This is to avoid any children being required to unlearn and relearn a handwriting style, particularly if they are already writing in a legible and rapid style. The emphasis in those Year groups that are continuing to use a fully cursive style will be ensuring a high standard of presentation with correctly formed and joined handwriting.
Through high quality first teaching, all children will meet the requirements of the National Curriculum in handwriting, writing fluently, legibly and confidently.
The 2014 National Curriculum (English p.28) states that pupils should be taught to ‘use the diagonal and horizontal strokes that are needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined’.