As a new academic year begins, one child in three , 1.7m UK children, will start secondary school unable to write properly. That’s a whole third of a class from every state primary school in the UK unable to join up their letters.
In a digital world that might not seem such a huge deal; however, handwriting is a skill that is fundamental to unlocking a child’s potential in life. Scientific evidence proves that children who can write are able to access the entire education curriculum more efficiently than children who cannot write.
Even in the Digital Age, there is still a daily need to write things down, to take notes in class or answer questions in exams. Whilst computers are still barred from the exam room, children need to be able to write fluently and quickly if they are to pass those exams and achieve their potential in life.
Today, those children who cannot write legibly, or confidently, will not succeed at school. Out-performed by their peers, they will never achieve their potential in life. When Warwick University academics tested the handwriting speed and ability of almost 200 pupils in three schools, they found that pupils with average or poor handwriting had only a 40 per cent chance of reaching national standards in Sats taken at the age of 11. In 2014 a study of 2,000 teachers and students – sixth-formers and university undergraduates revealed that almost two-thirds – 64 per cent – of teachers admitted that illegible writing “has prevented them from awarding the full marks a student deserved” .
“Writing by hand is still very much needed. How can future generations read, write a love letter, a shopping list or a recipe if they can’t write?’ says Angela Webb, chair of the National Handwriting Association. “Alongside reading and maths, writing is one of the three key skills everyone needs to master if they are to cope in the adult world. To have a career, to take charge of financial affairs and to live independently depend largely on an individual’s ability to read, write and add up. One in three children leaving primary school unable to read and write properly is simply unacceptable.”
However, I’m on a mission to challenge that statistic with a proven method that teaches children, including those with dyslexia (by using the Dyslexie font), how to write. My Start-Bee handwriting system takes absolute beginners to Ofsted standard in joined up writing in just seven weeks, with life-changing results.
I have been delivering my handwriting lessons as after school clubs across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex counties in the UK. However, a recent marketing campaign advertising our Start-Bee handwriting clubs to UK schools generated over 7,000 responses from teachers. Interest in attending Start-Bee handwriting classes is increasing as teachers and parents, like Ofsted, are realizing the importance of handwriting in the development of their child. Currently the education system isn’t able to help those children who are falling behind their peers, which is where Start-Bee can step in.
At the moment I simply can’t keep pace with demand for my lessons which is why I’m launching a crowdfunding campaign to help me deliver my handwriting system via a web-streaming platform and turn the method into handwriting kits to be used at home. Every child, everywhere should be able to write effortlessly, enjoyably and excellently if they are to succeed at school. Illegible handwriting prevents them and their teachers from reading their work and they will be losing valuable ground in exams where examiners are also unable to read their papers. No child should be written off at school; additional funds will help me help more children, more parents, as well as schools access my lessons who live out of reach of the after-school clubs, not just here in the UK but in other countries too.
However, some countries like Finland and some states in the US are phasing out cursive writing from the curriculum in favour of typing. I believe we, as a society and as parents, can’t afford to get the “type or write” experiment wrong. This is why, as Start-Bee, I’m on a mission to #dothewritething by helping every child, everywhere to join up their letters in neat, legible handwriting. My system works, so if you know someone who would appreciate the gift of handwriting you can get in touch via the website. Let’s make illiteracy a thing of the past.