David Cameron, JK Rowling: just two of the people who don't make the handwriting grade

In an open letter to Nicky Morgan, a primary deputy head argues that the handwriting of some of the country's most successful people does not meet the standard expected for seven year olds

Kim Clark

News article image

Dear Ms Morgan,

I wrote to you a few months back, regarding my concerns about the flippant use of the word “mastery” among educationalists at the moment. Although you didn’t respond yourself, someone did on your behalf. I was disappointed with the response, as I felt a lot of my points had been missed, or simply ignored.

A few months on, I feel compelled to write to you regarding a fresh concern. I thought I would perhaps simplify my argument this time and use visual aids to avoid any confusion.

Here is a picture of the end of key stage 1 interim framework for writing. This is for seven year olds and there must be evidence for all of these points for the children to have mastered (there’s that word again…) the expected standard:

expected standards, literacy, handwriting

Here is a picture of David Cameron’s handwriting:

expected standards, literacy, handwriting

You can clearly see that the handwriting of the most powerful man in the country does not reach the expected standard. Should we really have someone running the country whose writing is of a lower standard than your average seven year old?

Here is a picture of JK Rowling’s handwriting:

expected standards, literacy, handwriting

JK Rowling is one of the world’s most successful authors but, according to your criteria, her writing is below that of a seven year old.

I hope this illustrates my point. I haven’t even mentioned all the children with dyspraxia and dyslexia, who will go through their lives knowing that they can never reach the expected standard in writing. What kind of message does this send out to young children and their parents? Not the right one. Let’s not take the joy out of writing; let’s not forget that writing is so much more than spelling and a beautiful cursive script.

I sincerely hope that you and your team will reconsider this emphasis.

Many thanks for taking the time to read my letter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Kim Clark

PS I tried to find a sample of your own handwriting, but was unable to do so. Perhaps, like most of us, you type all of your correspondence.

Kim Clark is deputy headteacher at Fairlawn Primary

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