At Gomersal St. Mary’s Primary, 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 use the Debbie Hepplewhite fully cursive method of handwriting.
This rationale is underpinned by three of Gomersal St. Mary’s Steps to Success:
- Love- We aim to develop a love of learning within our pupils
- Respect- We aim to develop pupils’ self-respect through encouraging them to take pride in their work
- Resilience- We aim to cultivate an environment where pupils have the determination to work hard and persevere towards their goals
- To raise standards in writing across the school
- To have a consistent approach across Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and 2 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, on displays and when producing resources.
- To establish and maintain a high profile of handwriting and presentation skills by displaying and rewarding work that meets the standard as well as that which shows rapid improvement
Five stages are identified in developing neat, consistent and fluent handwriting. These form the basic organisational structure of how handwriting is taught at our school.
- Readiness for writing: gross and fine motor skills leading to letter formation
- Beginning to join
- Securing joins
- Practicing speed and fluency
- Presentation skills
In Early years children will:
- Engage in activities requiring hand-eye coordination
- Use one-handed tools and equipment
- Draw lines and circles using gross motor movement
- Manipulate objects with increasing control
- Begin to use anticlockwise movement and retrace vertical lines
- Learn how to hold a pencil and how to form basic letter shapes (see appendix 1)
- Be taught correct letter and number formation, moving from single letters to words and sentences.
- Be free to select a writing implement of their choice in child-initiated learning.
- Be taught correct sitting and pencil grip
- Be encouraged to write in a straight line from left to right.
- Witness use of rulers for labelling as modelled by teachers and rulers will be available for child-initiated learning
- When children are ready, they will be taught how to write ‘on the line’.
Throughout the Foundation Stage, children need lots of opportunities to develop:
- Physical control through large-scale movement such as outdoor play. Balancing, climbing, marching and moving to music.
- Manipulative skills such as using tools, cooking utensils and scissors.
- Fine motor control and hand-eye coordination, through activities such as jigsaws, threading, cutting and manipulating ‘small world’ equipment.
Key Stage 1
- In Years 1 and 2, children are taught to start and finish each letter from the line using entrance and exit flicks (see appendix 2). In year 2, pupils who are ready to begin to join letters, will be taught how to begin joining.
- Children are taught how to maintain regular size and shape of letters and regular spaces between words.
- They develop the fluency of their handwriting at word and sentence level.
- Children are all taught to write ‘on the line’.
- They are taught how to underline and label neatly with a ruler.
National Curriculum Handwriting Expectations- Year 1:
Year 1 pupils should be taught to:
- Sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly
- Begin to form lower-case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place
- Form capital letters
- Form digits 0-9
- Understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘families’ (i.e. letters that are formed in similar ways) and to practise these
- Make links with phonics and spelling
National Curriculum Handwriting Expectations- Year 2:
Year 2 pupils should be taught to:
- Form lower-case letters of the correct size relative to one another
- Start using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left not joined
- Write capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another and to lower case letters
- Use spacing between words that reflects the size of the letters
Lower Key Stage 2
- Joined, cursive handwriting is introduced from Year 3. By the end of Year 3, children should be beginning to write with fluency and consistency (see appendix 3)
- They work on securing joins, improving fluency and continuing spelling links.
- Children are expected and taught how to use a ruler to draw lines, including underlining, diagrams, labelling and crossing out.
- Children write in paragraphs around a theme.
- Children are taught to adapt the layout of their written work to fit the intended purpose, i.e. letter presentation, play script, etc.
- Pupils are awarded permission to use pens (blue ink) in their books (except for maths books) once their handwriting is consistently and correctly joined, neat and fluent.
National Curriculum Handwriting Expectations- Years 3 and 4:
Year 3-4 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 not joined
- Increase the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting, e.g. by ensuring that the down strokes of letters are parallel and equidistant; that lines of writing are spaced sufficiently so that the ascenders and descenders of letters do not touch.
Upper Key Stage 2
- They are expected to use a ruler to draw lines, including underlining, diagrams, labelling and crossing out.
- Teaching of handwriting continues to develop an efficient writing speed and aids spelling.
- Children learn to select the most appropriate presentation style for different writing genres.
- They begin to understand the balance between speed and legibility which is dependent on the purpose of the writing: the product or the final draft of a piece of writing.
National Curriculum Handwriting Expectations- Years 5 and 6:
Year 5-6 pupils should be taught to:
- Write legibly, fluently, with increasing speed and personal style by:
- Choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding, as part of their personal style, whether or not to join specific letters
- Choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task (e.g. quick notes, letters)
Handwriting practice is to be undertaken at least 2 times per week in Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 within English/ RWI lessons or as a stand-alone activity where needed.
These expectations apply to the vast majority of children in our school. Occasionally a decision will be made to personalise expectations for a child who has such specific needs that these expectations could be a barrier to their progress (e.g. a child with physical difficulties writing). Difficulties are addressed through appropriate interventions or specific equipment.
- Handwriting should be taught explicitly, in short, frequent sessions. It should be modelled by the teacher then supervised. Children should be self/peer assessing, looking for consistency.
- Where possible, it should be linked to phonic and spelling patterns. This will help with handwriting and with the ‘muscle memory’ of spellings.
- High expectations of writing are needed. Children need to repeat work that is not satisfactory.
- From year 3, children can gain a ‘pen licence’ for correct formation of letters, consistent fluidity and correct joins. This is re-set at the beginning of each year
- All adults need to model good handwriting at all times, e.g. when writing on the whiteboard and when marking books.
- It is recommended that all teachers and supporting adults who write on boards and mark work should use the school’ s handwriting style consistently. If the pupils are infants and writing in print – the adults write in print. If the pupils are at the stage of writing in joined writing, the adults should write in the school’ s joined handwriting.
Celebration and Motivation:
All staff ensure that presentation and handwriting is promoted by:
- Celebrating work of a high standard, including homework, in whole class situations.
- Ensuring good presentation and handwriting is rewarded in line with the whole school behaviour policy i.e. merit stickers, bronze, silver, gold cards, Pobble publication, visualiser display)
- Sharing good work in whole school/ Key stage writing assemblies.
- Displaying written work in classrooms and shared areas around school and publishing examples to Pobble.
- Using joined, legible and consistently formed handwriting on boards, in books and displays.
- Providing modelled examples and reviewing expectations with children.
Presentation is monitored by the Senior Management Team on a regular basis through work scrutiny, lesson observations and pupil interviews.
Feedback will be shared with the class teacher and at Senior Management meetings. This will ensure that the policy leads to good practice.