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St John XXIII Catholic Primary School Inspiring Faith in our Future


At St John XXIII, we follow the Collins Primary Focus Handwriting scheme which supports our children to develop clear, fluent, quick and legible handwriting. It is a step-by-step program which reinforces and progresses skills. Handwriting activities are based on high-frequency words so that spelling is a key part of the learning process, and we at times may set  homework or independent work in the classroom. 



  • Children will start their handwriting experience in the Early Years using handwriting phrases (from Read, Write, Inc.) to assist them in forming their letters correctly.
  • In Key Stage 1 they will adopt a consistent cursive approach to ensure high levels of presentation.  
  • Adults will adopt a common approach towards handwriting when writing in children’s books, on the whiteboard or on displays/ resources.
  • Children to achieve a neat, legible style with correctly formed letters.
  • Children to develop fluency and speed whilst writing, so that eventually the children are able to write the letters with confidence and correct orientation. Teaching and Learning
  • As recommended by the British Dyslexia Association, we adopt a continuous cursive style of writing when children are ready.
  • Teachers, Teaching Assistants and Learning Support teachers model the agreed cursive style when modelling both in class, on displays and in feedback in books.



  • Posture and pencil grip
  • Chairs and desks (where possible) are matched to children’s age and height.
  • Children’s back should be straight and feet resting on the floor.
  • A right handed child should have their back slanted to the left. For a left handed child the book should be slanted to the right.
  • The tripod pencil grip is taught from Reception throughout KS1 and KS2 ( described as ‘Frog on a log’) 
  • A rhyme is taught to children to reinforce position and pencil grip: o “1, 2, 3, 4 Are my feet flat on the floor? 5, 6, 7, 8 Is my back nice and straight. 9, 10, 11, 12 Is my pencil nicely held?”
  • Handwriting is praised at fornightly praise assemblies where handwriting certificates are given out
  • Children also work towards 


Early Years (EY): Communication, language and literacy

Children should be exposed to print in story books and experiment with mark making with a range of materials (e.g. sand and finger painting)

Children in the Early Years learn to write in the pre-cursive print to enable an earlier transition in Year 1 into the cursive script, depending on their ability.

Implements such as chunky triangular pencils, large chalks and chunky pens etc. are used by pupils to rehearse skills on paper, chalk boards and easels etc.


Here are the handwriting phrases from Read, Write, Read Inc. that will be taught in Reception.




Key Stage 1 (KS1)

Within KS1, every class will have a weekly Guided Reading slot dedicated to handwriting and a minimum of two other handwriting sessions during the week. In handwriting lessons in Year 1, each class will learn the handwriting groups progressing through the 5 letter groups. In handwriting lessons in Year 2 the 5 handwriting groups are revised throughout the year and the weekly phonic sounds will be reinforced, modelled by and adult and practised by the children. Children in KS1 have a handwriting book.


Lower Key Stage 2:


Years 3 and 4 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. They increase the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting [for example, by ensuring that the down strokes of letters are parallel and equidistant; that lines of writing are spaced sufficiently so that ascenders and descenders of letters do not touch]. 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 Key Stage 2:


Years 5 and 6 Pupils will 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. They will learn to choose the writing implement that is best suited for a task. Be secure in using a  lead in from line, flick out. Avoid ‘submarining’ or ‘hovercrafting’ and ensure that they keep letters the same size. They will not take pen off the paper during the formation of words, apart from when there is an x.  Pupils in Year 5 and 6 are encouraged to slant letters in order to write with greater speed. 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 their written expression and voice. 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 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.



Pen Licence

Pen Licence Certificates are awarded to those children who make a concerted effort to produce legible, joined handwriting, using cursive letter joins Some of the skills that children may need to demonstrate to earn a pen licence include:

  • using a correct pencil grip
  • writing on the line
  • joining letters correctly
  • starting each letter in the correct place keeping letters the same size
  • forming letters with the correct shape
  • leaving appropriate gaps between words
  • ensuring that ascending and descending strokes are the right length
  • writing clearly enough for other people to read their work Teachers will usually assess children’s work over a number of weeks to decide whether they’re ready for a pen licence, rather than basing their decision on a one-off handwriting test