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Handwriting and the National Curriculum - England

The National Curriculum – September 2014

All infant and primary schools are legally bound to follow the National Curriculum. The new version of the curriculum comes into force as of the 1st September 2014 along with a new ‘Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 - 25’ and new Assessment criteria and testing.

Year 2 in KS1 and year 6 in KS2 will follow the current (pre-sept 2014) programme of studies in English, Maths and Science, allowing them to sit the appropriate end of key stage national tests. However the levels given will be structured differently in that only level 2 will show sub-levels (2c-just in the level, 2b-secure level, 2a top end), so a child will be leveled at 1, 2c, 2b. 2a, 3 or 4 (a child working above level 4 will show as a level 4).

As of September 2015 all KS1 and KS2 year groups will be taught all the programmes of study from the 2014 National Curriculum and the end of key stage national tests will also be based on these curriculum criteria.

The new programmes of study for English are set out year by year in KS1 but as lower KS2 (Years 3 & 4 combined in one programme of study) and upper KS2 (Years 5 & 6 combined in one programme of study). However schools are only required to teach the relevant programme of study by the end of the relevant key stage. This gives the schools the flexibility to introduce elements sooner or later as they feel is appropriate for their pupils. However they do have to set out a clear English curriculum on a year by year basis and make it available online.

Assessment of Your Child’s Progress

The new assessment reforms mean that levels have been removed and will not be replaced (except for yr2 and yr6 2014-2015).

The government specifies the attainment targets as being: ‘By the end of each key stage children are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skill and processes specified in the relevant programme of study. (P6, English programmes of study: key stage 1 and 2; September 2013 implementation Sept 2014)

Schools now have the freedom to develop their own methods of assessing pupils’ progress towards the end of key stage expectations. The government will be providing detailed performance descriptors (not available at present).

The end of key stage tests will be more challenging and will report a scaled score rather than a level. What this scoring is, and how to assess it, has not yet been fully worked out as it will not be needed until 2016.

How long this will take for schools to implement and how easy it will be for parents to understand exactly what their child’s ability level is, is not really clear!

How Does Handwriting Fit into the New Curriculum?

The focus on handwriting in the new curriculum is much greater, highlighting its importance and making the connection between a child’s handwriting and their composition and spelling ability. This we believe is a great step forward!

Foundation Stage (4-5 years old)

Early Learning Goal – Writing

Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

Typical behaviours that relate to handwriting for this learning goal:

Core learning skills for handwriting:

Early years outcomes’; September 2013; Department of Education.

Statutory framework for early years foundation stage’ March 2014, effective September 2014; Department for Education.

Key Stage 1 (5-7 years old)

Statutory Requirements - Handwriting

Pupils should be taught to:

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Handwriting requires frequent and discrete, direct teaching. Pupils should be able to form letters correctly and confidently. The size of the writing implement (pencil, pen) should not be too large for a young pupil’s hand. Whatever is being used should allow the pupil to hold it easily and correctly so that bad habits are avoided.

Left-handed pupils should receive specific teaching to meet their needs.

Year 2

Statutory Requirements – Handwriting

Pupils should be taught to:

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should revise and practise correct letter formation frequently. They should be taught to write with a joined style as soon as they can form letters securely with the correct orientation.

Lower KS2 (Year 3 & 4)

Statutory Requirements – Handwriting

Pupils should be taught to:

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should be joining handwriting throughout their independent writing. Handwriting should continue to be taught, with the aim of increasing the fluency with which pupils are able to write what they want to say. This, in turn, will support their composition and spelling.

Upper KS2 (Year 5 & 6)

Statutory Requirements – Handwriting and Presentation

Pupils should be taught to:

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should continue to practise handwriting and be encouraged to increase the speed of it, so that problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say. They should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes or a final handwritten version. They should also be taught to use and unjoined style, for example, for labelling a diagram or data, writing an email address, or for algebra and capital letters, for example, for filling in a form.

‘English programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 National curriculum in England’; September 2013’ (up-dated for implementation September 2014); Department for Education.

Year 1