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Expert names that signature tune

Children's personalities emerge through their handwriting before they are even able to write properly, according to Elaine Quigley, of the British Institute of Graphologists.

She said: "Writing, speaking and walking come from the brain. They aren't just about muscles. The scribbles of tiny tots are different to those of their siblings."

Even though pupils may be taught to write in a uniform style, personal idiosyncrasies emerge immediately.

Ms Quigley believes that graphology can be used in schools to identify pupils' strengths in careers guidance, or to identify problems when counselling troubled children.

She said it is impossible for amateurs to analyse their own handwriting by studying well-placed loops or badly crossed ts - handwriting traits must be looked at in combination with one another. "There are about 300 different elements: size, pressure, spacing, margins and joining of letters. It's all about interplay between these different facets."

The TES asked Ms Quigley to examine the handwriting of various figures in education. Here are her conclusions:

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary

He is diligent and hard-working. He has quite a strong signature: he is not going to be browbeaten or pushed around, and he does not play to the crowd.

He can rise to an occasion, but I do not think he has the gravitas to be prime minister. He is much more natural and upfront than Tony Blair: his heart is on his sleeve a little bit.

David Bell, permanent secretary, Department for Education and Skills and former chief inspector

To make the nib split like this, you have to be pressing very, very hard.

That's excessive pressure. Whatever he does, he puts himself into it. He is a decisive, powerful personality, and has to be boss. Once he comes up with an idea, he goes straight for it. Do not think you can manipulate this man: there is not a chance in a million centuries.

Chris Keates, general secretary, NASUWT

She is very self-contained, very hard-working, but not the sort of person to have a discussion. She will make up her own mind about what she does and does not like. She gives 150 per cent, but sometimes feels over-burdened with work, because she does not find it easy to delegate. She means well, and wants to guide people in a direction that she thinks is for their benefit.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary, National Union of Teachers He is very quick and perceptive. He is 100 per cent his own man. He makes it clear what he wants and does not leave room for argument. And he always gets his way.

Tim Brighouse, London chief schools adviser

He thrives on activities and ideas. He does not want confrontation or aggression, but likes to be able to talk things through. He is a public person, but very much a private man. His "Tim" is bigger: he wants people to like him. But "Brighouse" is underlined: professionally, he wants people to take him seriously.

alan johnson tipped for top, 12

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