Handwriting policy at Heathrow Primary School
In line with the Primary Curriculum statutory expectations, children must be taught to write with ease, speed and legibility. It is important that the child’s handwriting becomes a skill that ultimately requires little effort and thought so that creative and physical energy can be focused on the content of writing rather than upon the act.
The style is intended to be relatively quick and easy to learn, particularly when it is practised from an early stage. Pupils will learn to form individual letters appropriately and accurately first, and then during Year 1, will learn to join letters.
Pupils should be taught to:
sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly using the tripod grip
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’ and to practice these
The style is an all-joined style with two main joins - a diagonal join which starts with the pencil point on the writing line and a washing line join which connects two lowercase letters together from the top. The descenders of letters g, j and y go straight down through the writing line with a loop and continue to form the beginning of the diagonal join to the following letter. The diagonal join and washing line join need to be adjusted for writing the letter e.
Demonstrate the two main joins by drawing two separate squares sitting on a writing line to just less than ‘half height’ of the space between two writing lines. In one square draw a straight line from the bottom left corner to the top right corner to form the diagonal line join. In the other square, draw a curved line from the top left corner to the top right corner to form the washing line join.
The joins are very important for spacing letters evenly and learners need to understand that there must be a clear ‘join’ between all the letter shapes. Learners are taught to think carefully about which part of each letter is the letter shape and which part of the letter is the join. At first, all lowercase letters are taught as discrete (separate) shapes starting with the pencil point ‘on the [writing] line’ to form the diagonal lead-in stroke or leader. A lead-in stroke at the beginning of every word in lower case is considered to be very dyslexia friendly.
Not only are learners taught to form each individual letter shape to fluency, they are also taught to think carefully about the letters they write and the join each letter needs in whole words. This engagement with the mechanics of the writing style instead of just mindlessly copying strings of letter shapes and words results in learners proceeding rapidly to joining any words they wish to write independently. Some learners may be able to convert to this style almost immediately.
All upper case, or capital, letters are simple print letter shapes which do not join other letters. Teach that capital letters start from the top – that is, from just below the upper writing line. When writing a whole word which requires a capital letter at the beginning, a small space is left after the capital letter and the next letter starts on the line and all subsequent letters in the word are joined.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The order of teaching the lower case letter shapes is as follows:
Caterpillar’ letters: It is important to teach the letters which start like the letter c to fluency, before teaching the other letters. “Start on the line, diagonal join to half height, then hook over, back and round” for the letter c.
For the subsequent letters which start like c, describe and model how to, “…catch the hook…”
c a d g q o s f
‘One-armed robot’ letters: Start on the line, diagonal join to half height, down, back up to form
half a bridge (r) or full bridge (n)
r n m p b h k
‘Long ladder’ letters:
i l t u j y
‘Zig-zag Monster’ letters:
v w z x
‘Spiral egg’ letter
EYFS: Children will be taught to use the print version of all letters; taught in the same order as above.
c a d g q o s f r n m p b h k i l t u j y v w z x e
When children are ready, they can begin to move to the un-joined cursive version of all letters.
Yr1: Children will be taught to use the un-joined cursive version of all letters taught in the same order as above.
c a d g q o s f r n m p b h k i l t u j y v w z x e
Children will then be taught to join in cursive, using diagonal and washing line joins.
Yr2 – 6: Children will use the fully joined cursive style in all writing in all books.
Teaching and learning strategies
All teachers and supporting adults who write on boards and mark work are expected to use the school’s handwriting style consistently. If the pupils are writing in print – the adults write in print, if the pupils are at the stage of writing in joined writing then all adults should model the joined writing. We have high expectations for writers: to sit with good posture at correct-height desks facing forwards to the front of the class; to hold the writing implement with the correct tripod grip, slanting the paper slightly (right for right-handers, left for left-handers) and securing it with the spare hand – and to write from ‘beneath’ the words – not ‘above’!
Handwriting will be taught daily in Key Stage 1, and twice a week in Key Stage 2.
Children will receive a special ‘pen licence’ in Year 3 when they are successfully and accurately joining all letters. This can be revoked at any point if the standard of handwriting deteriorates. All handwriting pens have blue ink only.