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Unlocking handwriting with the WriteWell programme

25 June 2021

Unlocking handwriting with the WriteWell programme

Help every child to achieve clear, confident and speedy joined handwriting with WriteWell, a complete course designed to guide children from their first steps in mark-making towards the development of secure, fluent and comfortable joined handwriting.

Children need to develop fluent, legible and – eventually – speedy handwriting, so that by the end of Key Stage 2 they can write their ideas confidently across the curriculum. The best way to achieve this is through a systematic and consistent approach to teaching handwriting across all primary school year groups, which is why we developed WriteWell, a structured scheme designed to develop pupils’ handwriting from Reception to Year 6.

Supporting the statutory requirements for handwriting, it provides a consistent basis for teaching and learning this complex skill. The series consists of 11 pupil books to provide systematic practice of letters and joins for use at home or at school. Accompanying the pupil books is a detailed teacher’s handbook that includes a wealth of handwriting theory and advice on best practice in the teaching of handwriting. Supporting all of this is a range of free online resources, including animations for each letter and join.

A developmental approach

Handwriting is a developmental process that requires the simultaneous engagement of a range of capabilities, including physical strength, visual perception, and both gross and fine motor skills. Children must constantly draw on existing knowledge as they gradually grasp each of the separate features of fluent handwriting and then learn to use them in combination.

WriteWell’s developmental coverage of the National Curriculum requirements for handwriting is based on the advice of the National Handwriting Association (NHA), more specifically on a concept known as the ‘S Factors for Success’. The NHA developed the ‘S factors’ as a guide to the developmental teaching of the handwriting curriculum. There are eight S factors: Shape; Space; Size; Sitting on the line; Stringing together; Slant; Speed; and Style. Each S factor represents a feature of successful handwriting, and the factors are arranged in order of developmental demand. Children progress through the sequence towards the development of a personal style that is fluent, legible and fast as well as being comfortable. 

In the WriteWell series, the eight S factors are grouped into four developmental Stages. For easy classroom use, the learning within each Stage has been divided into discrete modules that take the form of 11 pupil books. Stages 1 and 3 require more pupil books than the other Stages because they teach the formation of letters and joins, which are fundamental for mastery of the remaining S factors. Children begin the WriteWell programme when they are developmentally ready and progress at their own pace as their handwriting skills flourish. ‘Ready to Go’ assessments and intervention resources help teachers to decide whether a child is ready to move on to the next Stage.

Movement-focused instruction

Correct movements are the foundation stones of legible writing and there is a strong emphasis on movement throughout the WriteWell programme, from the motion-inspired letter family groupings, formation patters and kinaesthetic activities, such as sky writing, in the early Stages, to the joining patterns and fluency activities in the later Stages.

Physical preparation

Handwriting is a physical process, and it is often issues relating to the physical aspects of writing that are the cause of handwriting problems. WriteWell ensures that children develop good writing habits using a system of reminders called the ‘P checks’ (posture, pencil grip, paper position and pressure). Warm-ups are also used to prepare children for handwriting sessions and build stamina.

Structured practice

Pupils are given extensive opportunities to practise new learning in activities ranging from simple tracing and copying tasks to more challenging composition exercises. All of the activities have been carefully designed to minimise cognitive load so that children can focus on developing their handwriting while reinforcing learning from other areas of the English curriculum that have already been taught.

Using WriteWell at your school

Schools can use WriteWell following the developmental approach. Children start with WriteWell Book 1 and then work through each book as they are ready to move on to the next Stage. As pupils are likely to develop at different rates, the teacher may have children working on different books and at different Stages in the same class. Alternatively, children can use the books in line with the requirements set out for each year group in the National Curriculum. 

Get a WriteWell Taster Pack

If you would like to see these resources in more detail, you can order a WriteWell Taster Pack online, containing all 11 WriteWell pupil books and a copy of the WriteWell Teacher's Handbook for only £50 (order code TPWW).

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