More than a third of children aged between 7 and 9 do not yet know how to use joined-up handwriting, a survey reveals.
And a third of teachers say that handwriting standards are slipping, as more time is devoted to other subjects than to learning to write well.
The survey of 1,008 parents of primary-aged children and 251 primary teachers found that 37 per cent of seven- to nine-year-olds and 28 per cent of children aged 11 or under are not able to use joined-up handwriting to connect the letters of a word.
And 15 per cent of those aged between 9 and 11 are still unable to join up a word.
'Legible, fluent and automatic' handwriting
The survey also found that almost one in five (19 per cent) of primary pupils are unable to write in a straight line. And 17 per cent write using large letters. The same proportion (17 per cent) are also unable to write a full sentence.
Angela Webb, the chair of the National Handwriting Association, said: "If children learn to write legibly, fluently and automatically when they are in primary school, they will be able to engage fully with the secondary curriculum, where they are expected to take notes, produce written assignments in class and complete tests and exams under timed conditions."
More than a third (36 per cent) of teachers agreed that handwriting standards had been dropping. Many pointed out that handwriting has been marginalised in the curriculum: 31 per cent spent less than half an hour teaching handwriting each week, compared with 47 per cent who spend at least four hours teaching maths.
Support from parents
Sixty per cent of teachers said that they would be able to teach handwriting more effectively in school if they had more support from parents at home. However a third (33 per cent) said that they did not receive this support from parents.
"Being able to write by hand allows children to express themselves on paper, and gives them confidence as well as pride in their work," Ms Webb said.
"Handwriting also supports the development of cognitive skills such as reading, spelling and the securing of maths concepts. The physical connectivity with the pen seems to impact the brain in a way that using a keyboard does not."
The survey was conducted to coincide with the launch of the Write Your Future campaign. The campaign, backed by Berol pens, intends to reemphasise the importance of handwriting.