Handwriting (producing letters and words using a pen) is a crucial skill for children to master at school. Being able to take notes, and get down ideas and knowledge on paper underlies much of how children’s attainment is measured, and it’s unsurprising that handwriting ability (both in terms of legibility and speed) has been found to predict educational achievement even at an early age. However, up to a third of all children struggle with this skill, with some children finding the demands of the mechanics of writing interferes with the ability to generate ideas, others finding their writing is too slow to allow them to get their ideas down on paper in a set time, and others being marked down because their writing is illegible.

Our group aims to take evidence-based effective clinical techniques for improving handwriting, and translate them for use by teachers and other members of staff in schools.

Specific Projects

Helping Handwriting SHINE

Helping Handwriting SHINE is an intervention to improve handwriting that was developed and piloted in collaboration with the SHINE consortium of schools in Bradford. The intervention aims to train teachers and teaching assistants to use approaches normally used by occupational therapists to improve handwriting. Children are taught to plan, do and then critically reflect on their performance, with the aim to develop an automatic and efficient handwriting style. Funded by the Educational Endowment Foundation, we are carrying out a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of the intervention in 100 schools across the North of England. The RCT is being independently evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research(NFER), with the evaluation report due to be published in Summer 2020.

Meet the team

Dr Katy Shire

Action Project Leader, CAER Programme Manager, and Senior Research Fellow

Jo Atkinson

Research Fellow

Dr Emily Williams

Research Fellow