The study, by Durham University and published today, shows name-writing ability is a “robust predictor” of later academic ability.
It says that teachers should look at children’s name-writing skills as a way to identify underlying difficulties and offer extra support to those who are struggling.
But it also finds that although there is a correlation, there is no evidence of a causal relationship between children’s ability to write their names and their later academic achievement, so helping children to write their name well will not necessarily determine their future outcomes.
The findings, published in the academic journal Educational Research, show children with longer names do not gain an advantage. Previous studies have suggested that having a longer name was an advantage because it helped children to become familiar with a wider range of letters at a young age.
Dr Lee Copping, assessment developer at Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring and lead author of the report, said: “This study shows that name-writing ability in the early years is a good predictor of future outcomes in reading and mathematics.
“Teachers should have confidence in using such measures alongside other indicators of attainment in these subject areas to inform their teaching and planning.”
The research was carried out by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University. The study analysed nearly 15,000 pupils from England, Scotland and Australia. In the English sample, the findings remained the same after controlling for pupils’ socioeconomic status and ethnicity.