Bold Beginnings – An Ofsted Report

Bold Beginnings – An Ofsted Report

In November 2017, Ofsted published a report titled ‘Bold beginnings’, which shines a light on the Reception Year and the extent to which a school’s curriculum for 4- and 5-year olds prepares them for the rest of their education and beyond.

In this document Ofsted have given us an insight into the key attributes that made a school ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ for Reception class and it is important that you take the time to read this report.

There were several things that caught my eye when reading this report, but as you can guess, my focus went straight to the ‘Writing’ section and I have to say that a smile crossed my face as I read several of the points addressed.

In point 58, Ofsted stated that ‘Most of the schools visited taught children to: sit correctly on a chair at a table when writing, hold a pencil correctly and comfortably using the tripod grip, form lower-case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place, form capital letters…’

The above are all the foundations and basics of achieving legible handwriting and we have been highlighting the importance of mastering these basics for several years now.Although we would have preferred to have seen the term ‘dynamic tripod grip’, we are still delighted that Ofsted are highlighting that in order to be ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’, the focus should be on good behaviour and not teaching to the test. Unfortunately, too many schools feel pressurised to teachto the test rather than focusing on ensuring each and every child has mastered the foundations of handwriting, before moving them onto the next stage or rushing them to join.

This feeling was echoed in point 59, where it states that ‘Headteachers in the schools visited agreed that children needed to be able to form all letters correctly and consistently before joined-up handwriting was considered. Nearly all were unanimous in their view that they did not teach a cursive or pre-cursive script in Reception. These headteachers believed that it slowed down children’s writing, at a point when they already found manual dexterity tricky and the muscles in their shoulders, arms and hands were still developing’.

We strongly agree with these headteachers and we are truly thrilled to see that these ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ schools are not rushing to use cursive from as early as Reception.

Our experience has shown that introducing cursive too early, before the hand muscles and hand-eye co-ordination are ready, causes a myriad of problems once a child reaches secondary school.

The rush to join has been a contention for us for a few years now and despite there being no evidence whatsoever to prove that this method is ‘more effective’, we have still seen a growing number of schools turning to the continuous cursive method and the results we have seen have been disastrous – with many of their students lacking the ability to form letters correctly, hold a pencil correctly or write legibly, which in turn has a negative impact that last much longer than just primary and high school alone.

So we couldn’t be happier to see that these schools have stuck with the correct method for teaching handwriting, rather than following the trend of pre-cursive and continuous cursive, and that they have been recognised as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding for doing so.

After reading this report, is your school ready for September 2019? Are you teaching the correct letter formation in Reception and across your school?

If your answer for the above is ‘no’, you still have time to make changes. If you would like any advice or support for handwriting, to ensure you are meeting the points raised in this report, we would be more than happy to help.

Contact: a free consultation with your school.

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