What price good handwriting? In this school’s experience, it’s the difference between being Ofsted graded “Requires Improvement” and “Good”.
Down Hall Primary School in Essex were struggling to teach handwriting which resulted in them being marked as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted for inconsistencies in the school’s teaching of writing and handwriting (including presentation). This is why the school turned to Start-Bee for help. When Ofsted returned, the school had been using the scheme for only three months, yet the schools’ inspectorate saw dramatic improvements, noting that the children in EYFS and Years 1 and 2 were now exceeding expectations in handwriting. As a result, along with other improvements, the school’s grade was lifted to ‘good’. However, the school has seen other benefits which have been directly linked to handwriting improvements: increased engagement in lessons, increased confidence and better behaviour in class.
Below you’ll find the stories of some of Down Hall’s pupils from Year 1 whose handwriting so impressed the Ofsted inspector. Click on the highlighted names or the hexagons to see the progress they have made with Start-Bee in a year. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see how the pupils in Reception are getting on too.
Five-year-old Alice started Down Hall Primary School able to write her name. Her letter shapes were clear but not all the letters were correctly formed. With Start-Bee’s handwriting lessons, Alice learned how to form the letters correctly and how to grip her pencil effectively. As a result, her handwriting has improved not only in appearance but in the amount she is writing too. So much so, that her parents revealed, at a recent parents’ evening, that Alice now writes constantly at home creating registers, lists and making cards. In class, her self-confidence has improved and Alice now helps others with their writing; she really enjoys the Start-Bee sessions. That was eight weeks into the scheme. See what a difference, a year learning to write with Start-Bee, has made to Alice
When Eli started Down Hall Primary School, like Alice, he too could write his name, but only in capitals and with a developing pencil grip. The five-year-old lacked confidence at times in his writing, becoming frustrated when he was unsure how to attempt to write letters. Now it’s a different story. Eli has shown a big improvement in his writing. His control and letter formation are consistently improving and Eli can see how his writing is changing. This is down to the fact that he loves to learn and get things right, that’s why Start-Bee has worked for him. Eli can immediately see if he has got the pattern correct or if he was written his name using the correct formation, this spurs him on to making further improvements. Eight weeks later Eli’s confidence had grown and he wanted to write more and more as a result. He is always thrilled with his work when completed and it’s a real joy to see. A year later and the enthusiasm is still there for Eli
Four-year-old Macey started school able to make some letter shapes, but these were not necessarily formed correctly. Instead she tried to make the shape look like the letters in her name. Her pencil control was weak at times and she found some writing activities difficult. Despite all of that and the fact she needed adult support to attempt some letters, Macey was always willing to have go.
Learning with Start-Bee, Macey started to show progress quickly, particularly when writing her name. The way Start-Bee teaches letter formation has really helped Macey to write the letter in her name. The amount of control she has when using a pencil has greatly improved and this is evident in her writing which was once large and out of control. But thanks to learning the correct pencil grip and posture, her fine motor skills are developing and so is her confidence. Macey has become far more confident when writing letters, many of which she can now form correctly. That was then (after only eight weeks). A year later and Macey is so proud of her writing; she’s happily writing all the time now.
Like Macey, five-year-old Finola started school able to write some letters and make marks but her writing was on the big size and quite messy. Like her classmate, Finola would rewrite over the top of letters if they didn’t look quite right. Getting it wrong, at times, meant that Finola got frustrated with her writing, especially when writing particular letters, but this never stopped her having a go.
In Finola’s case, adopting the proper pencil grip has made the biggest difference as her writing flows more, she is now less likely to overwrite letters and so her presentation is improved too. Her parents are delighted that she had taken to Start-Bee’s handwriting sessions so well and so are we. You can see how Finola has improved in a year by flipping through her work.
Before Start-Bee’s handwriting lessons. four-year-old Phoebe’s handwriting was on the large size, her letters were not consistently formed being written on, under or above the line and her pencil grip was weak. Writing was a challenge for her as she developed letter formation and control as well as master holding a pencil correctly. After only seven Start-Bee sessions, there has been a big change in Phoebe’s writing. Her pencil grip has improved and is stronger, her letters are now of a far more consistent size and her letter formation has also greatly improved as has the placement of her writing on the line.
Phoebe really enjoys the Start-Bee sessions and, as a result, is always keen to write; she has a very positive association to handwriting. Now, Phoebe is very proud of her writing and keen to show her friends and family the cards and lists she’s creating at the writing areas. Speaking of family, Phoebe’s parents were very impressed with her progress at a recent school drop in session. They could see how her writing has suddenly changed and said that she is very keen to write at home too. We’re all very proud of Phoebe. Here’s Phoebe a year later.
Now click on Down Hall’s logo to see the progress this year’s Reception pupils are making with Start-Bee.