At Norton and West Chinnock School we believe that neat, well-formed handwriting and presentation of written work helps to raise standards as the pupils take pride in and have a sense of ownership of their work. As a school we are adopting the fully cursive method of handwriting.
Why is a handwriting policy important for a primary school?
Handwriting is a skill which, like reading and spelling, affects written communication across the curriculum. Given effective teaching, handwriting can be mastered by most pupils by the time they are seven or eight years old enabling them, with practice, to go on to develop a faster and more mature hand ready for secondary school and adult life. The surest way to ensure consistent teaching and the development of legible, fluent joined handwriting throughout the school is to have a written policy agreed and put into practice by all staff. Handwriting is a movement skill, children need to practise handwriting movements correctly and often. The first handwriting lessons are vital and the most important issue is to ensure that the children we teach learn to form the letters of the alphabet with the correct sequence of strokes from the beginning. The correct formation of all letters needs to become quite automatic and may require a lot of practice.
(Suzanne Tiburtius of the National Handwriting Association)
- To raise standards in writing across the school.
- To have a consistent approach across both Key Stage One and Two when teaching handwriting and presentation of work throughout the school.
- To adopt a common approach towards handwriting by all adults when writing in children’s books, on the whiteboard or on displays / resources.
For pupils to:
- Achieve a neat, legible style with correctly formed letters in cursive handwriting.
- Develop flow and speed, so that eventually they are able to produce the letters automatically and in their independent writing.
Entitlement and curriculum provision
Handwriting is taught weekly through short, focused sessions and may be linked with spelling, grammar or phonics objectives. Teaching generally occurs outside Literacy lessons, although shared and guided writing also provides additional opportunities for the modelling and monitoring of handwriting.
Teaching and Learning
Handwriting is a skill which needs to be taught explicitly. Since handwriting is essentially a movement skill, correct modelling of the agreed style by the teacher is very important. Consistency in the attitudes displayed, the methods employed, and the models provided is the key to effective learning. A mixture of whole class, small group and individual teaching is planned.
Continuity and Progression
The emphasis at this stage is with movement rather than neatness.
Letter formation (starting at the right entry point and then moving in the right direction) learned at this early stage becomes automatic and has a profound influence on later fluency and legibility. Pupils are to be taught to use lead-in strokes, following agreed policy, as soon as they are ready for letter formation. (For agreed letter formation please see Appendix 1).
To aid movement, close attention is given to pencil grip, correct posture, the positioning of the paper and the organisation of the writing space. Teachers are vigilant to ensure that bad habits do not become ingrained and that the specific needs of left-handed pupils (for example, additional tracking and tracing of letters at the pre-writing stage) and those with special educational needs are met.
In the pre-communicative stage pupils play with writing and these experiments are recognised and praised as an important stage in the child’s understanding that marks on paper convey meaning. Pupils are given the opportunity to experiment with a range of writing materials and implements; a multi-sensory approach is used to help pupils feel the movement in the hand. As physical development is integral in the development of writing each classroom has a finger exercise area to develop fine motor control.
Key Stage One
Building on the foundation stage, pupils at Key Stage One develop a legible style and begin to use cursive handwriting in Year One by starting to join their letters. This is dependent on stage not age year of the child.
This is achieved in Year 1 by developing a comfortable and efficient pencil grip and by practising handwriting in conjunction with spelling and independent writing. Correct letter orientation, formation and proportion are taught in line with the school’s agreed handwriting style. This continues in Year 2.
Key Stage Two
- The target for children in Key Stage Two is to produce a fluent, consistently formed style of fully cursive handwriting with equal spacing between the letters and words.
- Children will have handwriting sessions using appropriate prepared resources, in the agreed handwriting style
- Children in Year Three, Year Four and Year Five will write with pencils until the class teacher assesses that children’s handwriting is competent and consistent. They will then be encouraged to use a handwriting pen.
- In Year Six children most children will use a handwriting pen
- Pencils will be used in maths or for drawing and completion of diagrams.
- All children in Key Stage Two will practise their letter formation when copying their weekly spellings.
The vast majority of pupils are able to write legibly and fluently. However, some pupils need more support and a specific individual or group programme is drawn up in consultation with the SENDCo. Thicker triangular pencils, pencil grips and wider lines will be used by children experiencing problems writing alongside other activities to develop their fine motor skills.
All teachers are aware of the specific needs of left-handed pupils and make appropriate provision:
- paper should be positioned to the left for right handed pupils and to the right for left handed pupils and slanted to suit the individual in either case;
- 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 to their left side;
- left-handed pupils should sit to the left of a right-handed child, so that they are not competing for space;
- extra practice with left-to-right exercises may well be necessary before pupils write left-to-right automatically.
- Teachers are alert to the fact that it is very difficult for left-handed pupils to follow handwriting movements when they are modelled by a right-handed teacher. Teachers should demonstrate to left-handers on an individual or group basis, even if the resulting writing is not neat.
The role of parents and carers
The Foundation Stage teachers play an important role in communicating this at an early stage, for example, to ensure that parents are informed and encouraged to offer good models to their pupils by using only capital letters for the beginning of their names, practising drawing patterns together, playing joining up games which encourage left to right directionality. The Foundation Stage teachers, in partnership with the English subject leader, are expected to communicate with pre-school agencies to encourage good practice.
All members of staff (including teaching assistants, supply teachers, students) are provided with appropriate handwriting models and are expected to promote the agreed handwriting style by their own example.
Assessment, Monitoring and Moderation
- Children in the EYFS are assessed on an ongoing basis through observation, handwriting informs part of this.
- Within Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, handwriting is assessed as part of children’s writing assessments, termly.
- When undertaking scrutiny the head teacher, SLT, and subject leader will monitor the use of cursive writing.
Agreed letter formation
Please see this link to how the letters are formed:
Please see this Handwriting overview document which shows our approach to handwriting at Norton and West Chinnock: