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Start-Bee

Teachers are not adequately trained to teach children how to write, resulting in the lowest literacy levels in decades, with one in three children leaving our primary schools functionally illiterate.

22 January 2018 12:00

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Headteachers up and down the country are focusing on ensuring all their pupils know how to hold a pencil correctly by the end of their first year in Primary School, as per the recent OFSTED Directive - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42167739.
But a survey conducted by Handwriting Specialist, Melanie Harwood, raised serious concerns. "In the past decade, teachers have not been trained to teach the correct pencil grip, nor to assess whether a child’s pencil grip flags up hypermobility in their joints (writing with a standard pencil for these children could be painful). Simply put, teachers did not know what "good writing looks like", nor did they know how to assess the potential barriers to learning to write that hinders some pupils' progress from the very outset."

A group of concerned Headteachers and Teachers collaborated with Harwood, to create a simple Handwriting Assessment which is now transforming how children’s handwriting skills are assessed in schools. Headteachers were keen to turn around the poor handwriting and presentation skills of their pupils and agreed that something had to be done when the assessment flagged up the high percentage of children that needed more help with particular areas of learning the very basic steps of writing well.

She says that she was shocked by the low achievement of the children in schools rated as: Outsanding, Good, Requires Improvement and even those in Special Measures. “It did not make a difference whether the school was rated as Outstanding or whether it was in Special Measures, because the baseline results for handwriting were always the same in every school I assessed. I asked teachers if they had been trained to teach handwriting and many of them replied that they had not. I asked if they knew what to look out for when marking their pupil’s work, what would show them if a child was struggling with letter formation or even whether pupils were struggling to write on a line and they said that they did not. The biggest problem was pencil grip! I saw that too many teachers simply did not know how to teach their pupils how to hold a pencil correctly. Worryingly, they did not know which writing tools to transfer their pupils across to when those children were clearly hypermobile and holding a “normal” pencil could be painful for them. The number of children holding a pencil as if it were a banana were scandalous. I realised that the Education System was failing an entire generation of children because teachers simply did not know what good writing looked like or how to assess the potential barriers that hamper some children’s progress to learn to write well. There was no consistency from the Department of Education to ensure that all schools assess handwriting to a set standard of expectations to ensure all children learn to write well (legibly and fluently).

The assessment was flagging up serious concerns and inconsistencies in the teaching of what many consider to be a basic human right. Harwood explains, "Being taught how to write well enables a child to communicate and to express themselves in more ways than one can begin to quantify, because it is a core life skill and a cornerstone to educational and social mobility. Handwriting gives physical form to our thoughts and emotions, it is profound how important being able to write well is to our learning journey and future trajectory in life, as strong literacy skills open the doors to a productive economic future."

An entire generation of children are struggling to write legibly and fluently and even Cambridge University recently stated that they will no longer expect their students to write out tests or coursework by hand because the lecturers can no longer read their handwriting.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/09/cambridge-considers-typed-exams-as-handwriting-worsens

Academics, Business Leaders and Parents asked, "How did we get to this crisis point in education and how do we solve it quickly?!"

Mrs Kate Tuff of St Joseph’s in Cleethorpes suggested Harwood change the marking outline to that of the Department of Education’s, which made it possible to streamline the resulting baseline data of each class assessed. "We could now use Hard Data to denote each child’s handwriting ability according to the Standards and Testing Agency’s Expectations for Handwriting for children in Key Stage 1 (School Years 1 to 3) and Key Stage 2 (School Years 4 to 6). And that was just the beginning!" recounts Harwood.

A turning point in the metamorphosis of her Handwriting Assessment, was when Mrs Lou Nelson, Headteacher of Down Hall Primary School in Rayleigh, Essex, took the resulting data from her school’s most recent Handwriting Assessment and uploaded it onto her school data tracking software.

The hard data could be split into more than 20 groupings, for example, Spring Born v Winter Born Children, SEN Children v Children in receipt of Pupil Premium Funding (children in receipt of Free School Meals) and so much more. It was fascinating for both Harwood and the school Management Team to see how each child’s handwriting attainment at the end of the school year could be tracked to ensure their progress could be followed but, most importantly, no child would now fall through the net and leave primary school still struggling to write well because interventions could be put into place much sooner for those that needed more help.

Mrs Lou Nelson, Headteacher of Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh, Essex, explains, “Start-Bee’s Handwriting Match Fit Assessment visually highlighted the progress the children had made from their baseline Handwriting Assessment not only in letter formation but also in their writing posture, pencil grip, stamina and the care the children took with their work.”

Ms Bec Wakefield, Early Years Teacher and English subject leader at Down Hall, says: “Even in this digital age of tablets and smartphones, children still have to handwrite their SATs tests so it is important for every child to master a clear, fluid, legible style of handwriting if their work is to be assessed to its full potential. We are delighted that the Handwriting Match Fit Assessment has already helped us develop a child, class and year group specific handwriting strategy, which is exactly what Ofsted want to see.”

When Melanie Harwood trained Miss Sarah Cooper, Literacy Lead, and Miss Fiona Cowan, Headteacher of Bolsover Infants and Pre-School, how to deliver not only the Handwriting Assessment to all their pupils but how to mark the completed Assessment Booklets themselves, Miss Cowan promptly delivered an inset training to all her teaching staff based on what she was shown in just one afternoon while marking her pupils very first Baseline Assessment. She says, “As soon as we saw the information that came from a quick and enjoyable 30-minute assessment we were astounded. The children absolutely loved doing the assessment activities. The teachers could not believe what the data told them about the children’s handwriting issues and what needed to be done. This was information that, for some of us with 20 plus years of experience, we have never had before."

Miss Fiona Cowan, Headteacher of Bolsover Infants and Pre-School sent over her own observations and training notes to Harwood and insisted she create an eLearning Handwriting Match Fit Assessment Training Course for teachers as soon as possible.

The eLearning Training Course is now exclusively available from leading education supplier, YPO, and they are positive it will train the future Handwriting Specialist Teachers that every school desperately needs. www.ypo.co.uk/start-bee

https://youtu.be/GB5UczAwu0U

Denise Meissner, Occupational Therapist and Autism Specialist, recently wrote an Open Letter to teachers,

"Teachers and educators: you are our child's First Responder. You are there on the front lines dealing with our child's learning and behaviour challenges. The health of our society relies on the work you do and the impact you have on our children. With post-Brexit life looming over the horizon, employers need our children to develop strong writing skills because writing increases Reading, Maths, Science, and Communication Skills.

Why? Because employers are dealing with more than a decade of low productivity which in turn jeopardises profit. Yet, despite your best efforts, you are often not afforded the training and equipment you need to quickly identify and correct for underlying causes of our children’s challenges. Until now. With the Handwriting Match Fit Assessment, you can now perform a whole-class assessment through e-learning videos and a step-by-step practical exercise which is delivered painlessly in 30 minutes. With an age appropriate peer-to-peer presenter, guiding you and your students through the Assessment, you will collect baseline skills information on a variety of skills.

Some of the skills include the child's: joint stability and mobility; attention span; task completion; ability to copy and complete various lines and shapes (which are pre-requisites for writing); muscle tone; eye-hand coordination; and muscle memory. Once each child completes the Handwriting Match Fit Assessment, you will have physical proof of skills and issues that need to be addressed. As you train to deliver the Handwriting Scheme, you become a handwriting expert yourself, which increases your value to your school. Best of all, you and the pupils will create a bond built on trust and joy as you create amazing learning experiences and accomplishments. The pupils will see you and you will see them. Even other teachers and staff will see you and the impact you have on these children. You will be one of those teachers that the pupil will remember as they grow up and go out into the world. Wouldn't it be nice to trade in hard days for hard data, that you can use to effectively help a child progress from pain to poise?!”   


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Press Contacts

Melanie Harwood

Managing Director

Tel: 07595099144

Email: mel@start-bee.com


About Start-Bee

CONTACT INFORMATION Start-Bee:
mel@start-bee.com or 07595 099 144 or www.start-bee.com
Spokespeople:
Melanie Harwood, CEO and Founder of Start-Bee Ltd
Interviewees:
Miss Bec Wakefield, Early Years Teacher and English subject leader at Down Hall, Rayleigh, Essex

Mrs Lou Nelson, Head Teacher, Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh, Essex.

Mrs Fiona Cowan, Head Teacher, Bolsover Infants and Pre-School, Bolsover, Derbyshire.


A Write Good Gift

School Handwriting Lessons Get a Boost from Start-Bee.

Handwriting in UK schools has reached a low point. According to official figures, one child in three, that’s 1.7m children, in the UK are leaving primary school unable to write to the required standard for Year 6 - that’s writing in a legible, neat, joined up script.

For handwriting company, Start-Bee, that one-in-three figure is optimistic.


Melanie Harwood, Founder and CEO of Start-Bee said, “UK schools today are lacking a consistent, effective method to teach every child within one class how to handwrite. What is urgently needed is a proven approach that enables any teacher or teaching assistant, whatever their skills in and knowledge of teaching handwriting, to run a handwriting lesson.”

Pupils’ ability to write or not can make the difference between passing or failing their SATs and for their school being awarded ‘good’, ‘outstanding’ or even ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted, a fact that one of our very first trial schools has experienced first-hand.

Down Hall is a large primary school in Rayleigh, Essex with currently 292 pupils on role from ages 4 to 11. In 2013 the school was inspected by Ofsted during which the schools’ inspectorate specifically highlighted inconsistencies in the school’s teaching of handwriting.

Miss Bec Wakefield, Early Years Teacher and English subject leader at Down Hall, says: “Even in this digital age of tablets and smartphones, children still have to handwrite their SATs tests so it is important for every child to master a clear, fluid, legible style of handwriting if their work is to be assessed to its full potential. We are delighted to be running the Start-Bee handwriting programme trial, funded by BIC® UK in our school as this can only further improve standards of writing across Year 1 and 2 groups. The company’s Handwriting Match Fit Assessment has already helped us develop a child, class and year group specific handwriting strategy, which is exactly what Ofsted want to see.”

The key to teaching handwriting effectively in school not only relies on a sound method but also the right tools for the learner’s ability. As a world leading manufacturer of pens and

1 “Under the last Labour government 1 in 3 of our young people were leaving primary school unable to read or write or add up properly”—Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, Radio 4 Today, 8th April 2015.

2 When carrying out handwriting assessments in local primary schools, Start-Bee has found in one sample group of 75 Year 1’s that only two pupils were considered emergent handwriters (that’s being able to write to the appropriate standard).

3 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. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/study_says_over/


About Start-Bee

Start-Bee (www.start-bee.com) is a proven method for teaching handwriting that delivers outstanding results. Created by ‘mumpreneur’, Melanie Harwood, to teach her own daughter how to write, the Start-Bee method can take a complete handwriting beginner from making marks to writing their name (to the requirements specified by the Department of Education) within seven lessons. After five years researching, developing and delivering the Start-Bee method to after-school groups, the company is rolling out a handwriting scheme for schools which has been developed for and in conjunction with primary schools. Combining e-learning videos with practical exercises and specialist equipment, the ‘plug and play’ approach dispenses with the need for existing handwriting expertise and leaves teachers free to guide and support pupils rather than teach the class. It’s an approach that has been proven to deliver the right results every time.

Start-Bee’s aim is to ensure every child is able to write effortlessly, enjoyably and excellently. To achieve this the Start-Bee’s method uses the best tools available to accurately assess and develop a child’s handwriting, the BIC® KIDs handwriting range for early years.

The importance of the right tools

The right (or should that be write?) tools matter because learning to write should
never be associated with pain in hands, fingers, wrist, arms or shoulders. Using handwriting implements which have not been developed specifically for those who are learning to write can cause pain and actually do more harm in the long run. Fingers, hands, wrists or arms hurt when pens and pencils for "Writing Ready" learners are used by those who are just starting out. Who wants to do something voluntarily that’s painful? Experience shows that for those learners who experience pain when learning to write with the wrong tools, form a negative association with handwriting as a whole and either find numerous ways to avoid having to write or just simply become badly behaved and disruptive in class.

“There is a clear distinction between those learners who are "Writing Ready" and those who are still"Learning to Write". A dentist wouldn’t use a hammer and chisel whilst working on a patient’s teeth, instead they use the very best tools to ensure they deliver the best results. Why then would we, as a handwriting specialist company, use anything but the very best and most appropriate handwriting tools when we deliver our programmes?” says Melanie Harwood, CEO and Founder of Start-Bee

In schools today, handwriting is more important than ever before. The recent publication of the Standards & Testing Agency's requirements for handwriting for KS1/2 means that every pupil has to leave primary school able to write to specified standards, otherwise they will not be assessed higher than KS2 for English. Problem is, Government statistics suggest that right now, one child in three5, is leaving primary school unable to write to the required standard.

5 “Under the last Labour government 1 in 3 of our young people were leaving primary school unable to read or write or add up

School Case Studies

Start-Bee is a proven method method for teaching handwriting that delivers outstanding results. By combining the right tools for handwriting with e-learning videos and practical exercises, Start-Bee’s method can take a complete handwriting beginner from making marks to writing their name (to UK’s Ofsted standard for Foundation Stage learners) within seven weeks.

Start-Bee has created a handwriting scheme for schools specifically aimed at teaching classroom beginners how to write as well as fast-tracking those lagging
behind. This includes a method for assessing an individual, class and year groups’ handwriting capability, a handwriting intervention programme, Basics Bootcamp, which can teach any pupil how to correct old habits and write legibly, fluently and with ease as well as a Handwriting for Beginners programme for EYFS handwriting beginners. The scheme works seamlessly and effectively within a school’s existing environment and in a way that enables any teacher or teaching assistant to run a handwriting lesson, no matter what their skills or knowledge of teaching handwriting.
Before launching the handwriting scheme at this year’s Education Show, thanks to sponsorship from BIC UK, Start-Bee refined the final product with two schools: The Leys Primary & Nursery School, Stevenage and Down Hall Primary in Rayleigh, Essex. Over a 10-week trial period Start-Bee worked closely with each school to ensure the handwriting scheme worked seamlessly and effectively within a school’s existing environment.

Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh, Essex

Down Hall is a large primary school in Rayleigh, Essex with currently 292 pupils on role from ages 4 to 11. In 2013 the school was inspected by Ofsted during which the schools’ inspectorate specifically highlighted inconsistencies in the school’s teaching of handwriting, requesting that the school adopt a more consistent approach to teaching the subject so that every child would have an opportunity to develop their handwriting further. The school has already taken several successful measures to address this: handwriting is timetabled three times a week, the school’s handwriting policy has been rewritten and the expectations for each year group clearly outlined.

Miss Bec Wakefield, Early Years Teacher and English subject leader at Down Hall is passionate about handwriting, says, “Even in a digital age of iPads, whilst children have to handwrite their SATs tests it’s so important for every child to master a clear, fluid, legible style of handwriting if their work is to be assessed to its full potential. Some teachers don’t fully appreciate the importance of handwriting and from personal experience newly qualified teachers are coming into school without knowing how to teach handwriting. It would appear that the subject is being overlooked during teacher training. In my experience, if you haven’t been taught how to teach handwriting how can I expect new teachers to deliver a lesson appropriately and effectively?”

The school has experienced at first hand the greater emphasis Ofsted is now placing on the quality and presentation of handwriting in school. Problem is, apart from one piece of evidence from the local education authority showing a clear and fluid style and the type of handwriting expected from Year 6, the school has had no direction as to the standard required for each year group.

Miss Wakefield came across Start-Bee when a Year 3/4 Pupil, Seren Davy, won the Silver Prize in the BIC® Handwriting Olympiad 2015 – a Nationwide competition which asked children from all over the UK to write in to say why they loved being able to write. A Start-Bee Handwriting Match Fit Assessment session for the school’s 90, Year 3’s and Year 4’s was provided as part of the prize. In the process, the school so impressed the Start-Bee Team that the company offered Down Hall the opportunity of running a trial of one of Start-Bee’s handwriting programmes with the Year 1 and Year 2 pupils.

Created by Start-Bee for teaching classroom beginners how to write, the trial made sure that Year 1 and Year 2 pupils could master handwriting to the required Ofsted standard. For Year 1’s that’s correctly forming lower-case letters and capitals as well as digits nought to nine. For Year 2’s that’s also being able to form lower-case and upper-case letters of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another, starting to use some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined and using spacing between words that reflects the size of the letters.

Comment from Miss Bec Wakefield about the trials:

“We are delighted to be running the Start-Bee handwriting programme in our school as this has helped us further improve standards of writing across Year 1 and 2 year groups and our Early Years Group too. The company’s Handwriting Match Fit AssessmentTM has already helped us develop a child, class and year group specific handwriting strategy, which is exactly what Ofsted want to see. Finally, now we can see what needs to be addressed and have visual references of the standards we need to be achieving and we look forward to working with Start-Bee for years to come.”

Down Hall saw the benefits in less than a term (see examples below). Ofsted also saw the same improvements when they returned in April 2016, noting that the children in EYFS and Years 1 and 2 were now exceeding expectations in handwriting. As a result, along with other improvements, the school's grade was lifted to ‘good’.

The Leys Nursery & Primary School, Stevenage, Herts

Leys Primary & Nursery School is a large primary school in Stevenage, Hertfordshire teaching 514 pupils from ages 3 to 11. Recently rated Good by Ofsted the school’s ambition is to achieve the all-important ‘Outstanding’ rating and part of the strategy to do that is improving the pupil attainment in handwriting. Having identified handwriting as an area the school wanted to develop, Assistant Head Teacher Davinder Khangura turned to local business and handwriting specialists Start-Bee for help. A recent assessment of the handwriting capability of the school’s Year 1’s by Start-Bee revealed that the majority of children are struggling to write to the expected standard and it is Mrs Khangura’s ambition to turn the children’s handwriting ability from zero to ten. To meet that aim, together the school and Start-Bee trialled a product created by Start-Bee for teaching classroom beginners how to write. Sponsored by BIC, the 10-week trial made sure that Year 1 pupils could master handwriting to the required Ofsted standard (correctly forming lower-case letters and capitals as well as digits nought to nine) and that the Start-Bee beginners’ product for schools works seamlessly and effectively within a school’s existing environment before it was launched at the Birmingham NEC’s Education Show in March 2016.

Comment from Mrs Davinder Khangura about the trials:

“Handwriting expectations from children have increased dramatically in 2015: by the end of Year 6, the Government expects every child to have joined up handwriting. However, due to the pressure of increased expectations, no one is teaching teachers, like me, how to ensure our pupils are writing neatly; teachers just aren’t being taught how to teach handwriting during their PGCE training. There is no standardised handwriting method published with guidelines and there is also a lack of training and focus on handwriting for trainee teachers. At Leys Primary & Nursery School we use Start-Bee because it’s the right tool for us to teach handwriting. The kit is amazing - it’s everything a teacher needs to deliver a lesson and the lesson plans are all there so that anyone can deliver a handwriting lesson. Thanks to the BIC sponsorship we are able to trial Start-Bee’s handwriting product and, having seen Start-Bee’s method in action during their Handwriting Match Fit Assessments, I am absolutely certain our children’s handwriting will be improved class- wide in due course.” Assistant Head Teacher, Davinder Khangura, The Leys Primary and Nursery School, Stevenage

Hannah-Jane’s story:

Melanie Harwood’s daughter was taught to write using the first evolution of the Start-Bee method so that she could join the school of her choice. After learning how to write, Hannah-Jane went into Year 1 able to write entire pages of joined up script and her spelling skills improved too. Her reading age jumped to an ORT reading level 11 within a year (unheard of) and her Maths skills improved to such an extent that she was raised to the upper skill set of her age group. She now absolutely loves every aspect of school, whether it is Geography, Science, History or English. Being able to write well has boosted her confidence and her academic ability as a whole.

But Hannah-Jane’s not our only success story:

Ayomikun’s story:

Five-year-old Ayomikun’s reading ability was far advanced for her age. However, when she first came to Start-Bee, her handwriting abilities were non-existent and she did everything she could to avoid writing. Holding a pencil like a banana, flipping it from right to left hand, Ayomikun, unsurprisingly, found it physically impossible to make a simple line on a sheet of paper or make a mark; she couldn’t even colour in. Within two months of attending weekly, one-hour Start-Bee sessions, this little girl could not only write her own name but was also able to hold a pencil correctly. Eventually, her newly developed handwriting skills were on a par with her reading skills. Now Start-Bee and Ayomikun are working on creating sizing grids so that she can size her letters correctly and keep them on a line. She is also working on the correct entry and exit strokes for the letters in the alphabet. Her confidence has soared and her concentration skills have also improved; she will quite happily sit down for an hour practicing her patterns and writing words. She is a Start-Bee success.

Pupil Success Stories

Adam’s story:

Adam was in his final year at primary school. Although his handwriting flowed,some of the letters and numbers were very ambiguous and the overall presentation was scruffy, making his writing and numbers difficult to read. In fact, his script was so poor that teachers had commented on it indicating that Adam could lose marks in exams if the problem wasn’t corrected. Something had to be done before Adam entered secondary school where different teachers in different subjects would be reading his work and the problem of his illegible script would really affect his ability to get on in school. Within only three,one-hour Start-Bee Handwriting Club sessions, Adam transformed his spidery scrawl into a clear, fluent and legible script that he was so proud of. Watching Adam develop his handwriting skills over the three weeks was wonderful to see but even more powerful was Adam’s growing confidence in himself. He reported that he was getting ten out of ten for his maths tests as his teacher could now clearly see that a nine was, indeed, a nine and that all his numbers were written clearly too.

The Leys Primary & Nursery School, Stevenage, Herts

“Our school began using Start-Bee's Handwriting Scheme for KS1 on the 4th January 2015 and we have been running the lessons twice a week since. The children love it and very quickly, within only three weeks, showed improvement, holding a pencil correctly (helped by Hannah-Jane telling them throughout the lessons how to do it properly) and sitting correctly too. Start-Bee’s systematic approach, combining video lessons with practical exercises, is what makes it so effective. As a result,the profile of handwriting in our school has increased in keys tage assessments. ” Says Davinder Khangura, Assistant Head Teacher , The Leys Primary & Nursery School

T’s Story - From no marks to writing clear sentences

Six weeks ago, a six-year-old boy at The Leys Primary & Nursery School couldn’t write beyond making marks. Unsurprisingly, he was also unable to read back his handwriting and struggled with holding a pencil and using phonic sounds to spell and write letters. That was then, but now, after only 12 x 30 minute lessons from Start-Bee’s handwriting scheme for schools, not only is this boy able to write legibly and use phonic sounds to spell, but he can also read back his work and write in clear sentences; to the obvious delight of his Year 1 teacher, Mrs Davinder Khangura. “This boy’s ability to write is not the only thing that’s evident in class." Mrs Khangura says, “Since being able to write, all his teachers have noticed that he is more confident in every subject, not just handwriting and that he’s started to enjoy learning as a result of being able to
write.” According to The Leys Primary & Nursery School’s Assistant Head Teacher, the turning point for her pupil was mastering pencil grip. She says, “The way Start-Bee teaches handwriting has created a willingness in him to practice handwriting and enjoy doing it too. Now he loves reading his work and looks forward to Start-Bee’s lessons. He is so proud of his handwriting and we are proud of him also.

Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh, Essex

Our Start-Bee trial began for KS1 on the 21st January 2015 and, for Early Years on, 1st February 2015, for Early Years and we have been running the lessons, three times a week for eight and six weeks respectively (as of w/c 14th March). The children love it and so do the teachers as it’s very easy to use and very simple to follow the onscreen instructions.

The systematic approach develops a child's handwriting/fine motor skills whilst making it a fun session for the children; as a result, right now, where we have seen the most improvements of is in handwriting posture and improved pencil grip. That said,in just a relatively short period of time, improvement with Start-Bee has been rapid. Bec Wakefield, Early Years Teacher and English subject leader at Down Hall Primary school
After Start-Bee’s initial Match Fit Assessment was rolled out, issues: like banana grip and grips that wouldn’t develop stamina for writing which would make writing over extended periods of time a problem,became more apparent. The inclusion of a song that prompts the children how to hold a pencil correctly is a clever way to keep reminding them of how to do it as it’s the song they are remembering first and then the grip. I now see the children stopping themselves to correct their pencil grip when they are writing in other subjects too like history, science and English; you can see they’re checking they have the right pencil grip.

I've noticed that using Start-Bee has impacted on other subjects too, especially history and science, where the children are having to write the whole afternoon. By improving the children's handwriting stamina levels, thanks to Start-Bee’s intervention and the right tools,the children are better able to cope. With Start-Bee we have been able to push the children to deliver more handwriting each day and their presentation of work has improved too even in the short time we’ve been using the scheme.

Mr Iain Jude Years 1 and 2 Teacher, Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh says,
"There is a girl in my class who has made a big difference to her writing through Start-
Bee. Now she's already started joining up more of her letters and her words. We have a reward system here at Down Hall, where those children who can write well are awarded a pen licence which allows them to move on from using a pencil to a pen. This girl is now very close to achieving her pen licence because of Start-Bee; she’s already started joining up more of her letters and her words.
As a result,other children in my class are aspiring to her level because they know she is very close to gaining what is a highly prized reward for a child.


Mr Shaun Purvis Years 1 and 2 Teacher, Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh says,
The children’s work has improved quite dramatically, literally overnight in some instances. We can look at a child’s work and turn back a few pages to see the huge improvement in the way the handwriting has been produced on the page.
From what I hear from staff around the school in KS1 and EYFS the handwriting that’s been taught through Start-Bee has really had a massive impact and that the children are showing much more confidence in what they are doing and handwriting standard has improved no end.

As a result, I’m sure that the handwriting work we are doing here at Down Hall will unlock their true potential and they will be producing the work they are truly capable of.

Paul Richards, Deputy Head and Years 3 & 4 teacher, Down Hall Primary School, Rayleigh recounts H’s Story, "Getting it ‘write’ with autism!":

Five-year-old ‘H’ has an ECHP for severe autism and showed little or no interest in mark making activities. He was undecided as to which hand to use and made no attempt to grip the pencil, simply holding it in his fist. That was then, but now, after only seven of Start- Bee’s handwriting sessions H is able to follow the onscreen instructions and copy the Start- Bee patterns. He happily attempts to copy his name and is starting to recall the letter shapes he needs to make. H is now choosing to mark make and colour at the writing areas. This has delighted his teacher, Miss Bec Wakefield and his parents. Miss Wakefield says, “Since starting our Start-Bee sessions, H has become happier to mark make. He is now being consistent when selecting which hand to use and pays close attention to the onscreen lessons, recalling how to complete the patterns independently.”

From just about writing her name to writing lists, registers and making cards
Five-year-old Alice started Down Hall Primary School able to write her name. Her letter shapes were clear but not all the letters were correctly formed. With Start-Bee’s handwriting lessons, Alice learned how to form the letters correctly and how to grip her pencil effectively. As a result her handwriting has improved not only in appearance but in the amount she is writing too. So much so, that her parents revealed, at a recent parents’ evening, that Alice now writes constantly at home creating registers, lists and making cards. In class, her self-confidence has improved and Alice now helps others with their writing; she really enjoys the Start-Bee sessions

Getting it right and writing more as a result

When Eli started Down Hall Primary School, like Alice, he too could write his name, but only in capitals and with a developing pencil grip. The five-year-old lacked confidence at times in his writing, becoming frustrated when he was unsure how to attempt to write letters. Now it’s a different story. Eli has shown a big improvement in his writing. His control and letter formation are consistently improving and Eli can see how his writing is changing. This is down to the fact that he loves to learn and get things right, that’s why Start-Bee has worked for him. Eli can immediately see if he has got the pattern correct or if he was written his name using the correct formation, this spurs him on to making further improvements. Eight weeks later Eli has grown in confidence and wants to write more and more as a result. He is thrilled with his work when completed and it’s a real joy to see.

From making uncontrolled shapes to happily writing unsupported, correct letter formations in just eight weeks

Four-year-old Macey started school able to make some letter shapes, but these were not necessarily formed correctly. Instead she tried to make the shape look like the letters in her name. Her pencil control was weak at times and she found some writing activities difficult. Despite all of that and the fact she needed adult support to attempt some letter, Macey was always willing to have go.

Learning with Start-Bee, Macey started to show progress quickly, particularly when writing her name. The way Start-Bee teaches letter formation has really helped Macey to write the letters in her name. The amount of control she has when using a pencil has greatly improved and this is evident in her writing which was once large and out of control. But thanks to learning the correct pencil grip and posture, as well as using the right tools, her fine motor skills are developing and so is her confidence. Macey has become far more confident when writing letters, many of which she can now form correctly.

Today, Macey is always happy to attempt writing activities and also spends lots of time in our writing areas during free choice activities. She has become more confident and proudly shows off her achievements. She is keen to be first for any of these types of activity whereas perhaps before she would wait to see how her peers had performed before giving it a try.

Start-Bee’s systematic, fun and enjoyable approach means that Macey doesn’t think of it as a handwriting lesson - more a fun thing to do! Eight weeks later and Macey is so proud of her writing; she’s happily writing all the time now.

Getting the right grip creates an enthusiastic handwriting in seven lessons
Before Start-Bee’s handwriting lessons. four-year-old Phoebe’s handwriting was on the large size, her letters were not consistently formed being written on, under or above the line and her pencil grip was weak. Writing was a challenge for her as she developed letter formation and control as well as master holding a pencil correctly.
After only seven Start-Bee sessions, there has been a big change in Phoebe’s writing. Her pencil grip has improved and is stronger, her letters are now of a far more consistent size and her letter formation has also greatly improved as has the placement of her writing on the line.

Phoebe really enjoys the Start-Bee sessions and, as a result, is always keen to write; she has a very positive association to handwriting. Now, Phoebe is very proud of her writing and keen to show her friends and family the cards and lists she’s creating at the writing areas. Speaking of family, Phoebe’s parents were very impressed with her progress at a recent school drop in session. They could see how her writing has suddenly changed and said that she is very keen to write at home too. We’re all very proud of Phoebe.

From writing frustrations to correcting the family’s pencil grip

Like Macey, five-year-old Finola started school able to write some letters and make marks but her writing was on the big size and quite messy, Finola would also rewrite over the top of letters if they didn’t look quite right. Getting it wrong, at times, meant that Finola got frustrated with her writing, especially when writing particular letters, but this never stopped her having a go.

Now, eight weeks later, Finola’s writing has improved enormously thanks to her mastering the proper pencil grip. Her writing is of a more consistent size with letters having ascenders and descenders that are clear. Today, she takes much more care when writing the letters and is far more confident as a result as she becomes aware of her steady improvement.

Finola loves Start-Bee! She particularly loves the pencil grip song so much so that she has been teaching her family how to hold a pencil or pen correctly. In Finola’s case, adopting the proper pencil grip has made the biggest difference as Finola’s writing flows more, she is now less likely to overwrite letters and so her presentation is improved too. Her parents are delighted that she had taken to Start-Bee’s handwriting sessions so well and so are we.

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