The Statutory Curriculum in England
Acquiring the skill of handwriting is a highly complex process. It involves many years of whole-body development, structured teaching and practising of each step. Such complexity requires an informed curriculum to guide educators and provide support so that children achieving legible, fluent and fast writing at the end of the primary school.
At present in England, this is lacking as there is a disconnect between the requirements for writing in the EYFS and those for Key Stages 1 and 2.
|Key Stage||Ages||School Years|
|Early Years Foundation Stage||Birth to Five||Nursery/Reception|
|Key Stage 1||5–7||Years 1–2|
|Key Stage 2||7–11||Years 3–6|
|Key Stage 3||11–14||Years 7–9|
|Key Stage 4||14–16||Years 9–11|
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) begins at birth and ends at 5 years (usually the end of Reception year).
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2017) details the standards for the learning, development and care of children in this phase.
ALL schools and OFSTED registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including child minders, preschools, nurseries, school nurseries and reception classes.
There are non-statutory guidance materials available to support practitioners in implementing the requirements of the EYFS framework. The materials include guidance on development in the seven areas of learning: communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world, and expressive arts and design.
For more detail on EYFS recommendations see here.
Key Stages 1 and 2
|Non-Statutory Notes and Guidance|
|Year 1, Age 5–6||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.
|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, Age 6–7||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 un-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.
|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.|
|Years 3–4, Age 7–9||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 un-joined
• increase the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting (for example, by ensuring that the downstrokes of letters are parallel and equidistant; that lines of writing are spaced sufficiently so that the ascenders and descenders of letters do not touch).
|Pupils should be using joined 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 down what they want to say. This, in turn, will support their composition and spelling.|
|Years 5–6, Age 10–11||Pupils should be taught to write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed by: |
• choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters
• choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.
|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 an un-joined 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.|
For more information about Key Stages 1 and 2, see here.