“Handwriting is one of the most demanding movement skills which a child is expected to master. It needs to be systematically taught.” (National Handwriting Association).

Our Aims:

We aim for our pupils to:

  1. Develop a legible style of handwriting.
  2. Develop a consistency in the size and shape of letters.
  3. Develop fluent and smooth flow and join of letters.
  4. Raise their self-motivation and esteem through the establishment of best handwriting practice.
  5. Establish and maintain a high profile of handwriting and presentation skills.

Handwriting Scheme

In order to achieve these aims at Hillside Primary School, we have chosen to use the “Nelson Thornes” handwriting scheme. Nelson Handwriting provides a clear, practical framework for implementing and developing a whole-school handwriting policy. Pupils are actively encouraged to explore different styles of handwriting and develop their own style whilst learning to form letters and joins accurately. The scheme is introduced to children in Reception and continues and develops with children throughout the stages into year 6. The scheme includes a Teacher’s Book which contains full lesson plans and helpful advice on how to develop and assess handwriting skills. Each area has their own book which is to be shared between the classes.

Each stage has a “Developing Skills” book. These provide full coverage of the technical aspects of writing including letter formation, basic joins, printing, speedwriting and slope, as well as links with phonics and spelling. Although these books are kept in the associated stage classroom they will be available for any child showing the need for a differentiated approach.

Handwriting lessons

The frequency and length of handwriting lessons will vary according to the age and competence of the pupils. With reception pupils it is appropriate to have short, daily lessons. KS1 and KS2 will experience at least one focused session per week lasting approximately 20-30 minutes. However, good handwriting skills and neat presentation will be continually reinforced in all work across the curriculum. Regular practice is essential. Handwriting in the early stages may be taught in smaller groups with similar levels of readiness and motor control. Individuals within each group may require specific help. Later on, as children come to understand the concept of written language and show evidence of developing control, whole class lessons will be more appropriate.

Introducing Joins

The teaching of joining letters will generally begin in year 2.  From year 2 as children reinforce their blends and diagraphs within their weekly spelling lists (eg ‘ai’) they will be taught to join these letters correctly. This reinforces an understanding of the sound as well as preparing the children for joined handwriting.

Letter Formation

In Nursery and Reception children are provided with a wide range of opportunities to develop the muscle strength and fine motor control needed to handle tools for writing. This includes construction and outdoor play, physical development activities such as PE and discrete teaching of directional and writing vocabulary (such as, top, down, round, straight, curved, etc.). They are taught to make gross motor movements before refining these movements to create patterns and finally, letter shapes.

Children should be encouraged to form their letters correctly in the early stages as incorrect formation will hamper fluency when joining. It is important to ensure that:

- All letters start in the correct place.

- In general, movements start at the top and go down.

- Ovals are made with an anticlockwise movement.

Left Handed Children

When joining letters some left handed children may find it more appropriate to leave ‘f’ and ‘t’ unjoined. During handwriting sessions, it is recommended that right handed children will not be seated on the left hand side of a left handed child. This ensures that their elbows do not collide. Encourage the left hander to tilt their paper to the right. The right hand can be used to steady the paper above the writing line.

Role of the Teacher

- Handwriting should be taught in line with the school policy.

- Handwriting is a movement skill and demonstration by a competent teacher is essential.

- As children practice their handwriting, teachers should observe them carefully and intervene with support and encouragement if necessary.

- In the early stages of learning to write, the process is more important than the product. Irregular letter forms starting in the correct place with movement in the correct direction are to be preferred to uniformly regular letters achieved through wrong movements.

- Every effort should be made to prevent significant faults becoming ingrained habits that will be difficult to break.

- Common faults include: faulty pencil grip, incorrect letter formation, reversals or inversions, poor posture and paper positioning; these faults must be corrected by an adult on every occasion.

- Consistent terms to be used by teachers: clockwise, anticlockwise, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, parallel, ascender, descender, consonant, vowel, joined, sloped, tall, small, short letters.

-In EYFS and KS1 all teachers should use the following script to aid the correct formation of letters:



Curl around, down and flick


Straight down, back to the middle and around




Curl around, up to the top, down and flick


Horizontal cross and curl


Over, straight down, back under.  Pencil off and across


Curl around, down and back under


Straight down, back to the middle, over, down and flick


Down and flick.  Pencil off and dot


Straight down and back under.  Pencil off and dot


Straight down, back to the middle, loop, slant down and flick


Straight down and flick


Down, up and over, down up and over, down and flick


Down, up and over, down and flick


Curl around


Straight down, up and curl around


Curl around, down and kick


Down, up and over


Short curl, across and back short curl


Straight down and flick.  Pencil off and cross


Down and flick, up down and flick


Slant down, slant up


Slant down, slant up, slant down, slant up


Slant down.  Pencil off.  Slant across


Down and flick, up and straight down, back under


Horizontal across, slant back down, horizontal across