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#931 Improving learner confidence in handwriting and spelling – Clacton Coastal Academy

Wendy Hammond

What did we do?

The problems the students encountered were:

~ A change of student behaviour due to the inability to complete work or to understand and comprehend work.

~ Lack of confidence due to their inability and understanding.

~ Fear of being judged due to a lack of legible handwriting .

~ Absence of/deficiency in fine motor skills

My goals to counteract these problems and what I actually put in place were:

~ To develop the students fine motor skills, their handwriting and Penmanship.

~ To understand the formation of letters and therein to write legible letters and words.

~ To improve student’s literacy – their spelling, reading and Understanding.

~ To improve their behaviour through their learning .

The above goals will also, very importantly, have the effect of building up the student’s self-esteem, their confidence and belief in themselves to be equal and valued as well as any other student in the school. So, enabling them to keep pace with their lessons, their peers and successfully cope with their workload; and end goal, to improve their behaviour through this and invariably their grades…

‘I feel a bit more confident with my handwriting and my English lessons now than I did before.’

‘I was not keen to do handwriting to start with, that’s primary school work, but I realise that it has helped me now.’

‘It has been a good experience to work in a small group instead of a big class.’


Summary of impact

The impact of the interventions and what worked well was the two handwriting practice booklets, with specific handwriting lines worked well, although the students weren’t particularly keen on it because most of them expressed that it was too young for them and was ‘primary school work’. However, it did highlight to me and subsequently to them, their needs and requirements to improve their handwriting.

As a result of the project, with closely monitored practise and encouragement to upgrade their letter formation I have observed a raised improvement of their handwriting. The implementation of the SNIP 1 Literacy (spellings) Programme booklet: With practise, the repetition of the nine words did also confirm and highlight the need for spelling practise and show afterwards an improved ability in the students to spell and retain those words.

I conclude that the handwriting and spelling intervention can have a very positive, long term effect on the students spelling and handwriting ability. In addition to and as a direct result of this improvement, I can confirm that the effect on the student’s behaviour due to their improved abilities and understanding, and therefore their self esteem, their confidence and their self-belief in themselves is considerable, significant and substantial…

Steps taken

To implement the project I first completed an implementation plan to work with.

I looked at and then sourced information and resources such as: handwriting programme, handwriting booklets, the best spelling programme I sourced – SNIP Literacy Programme (Spelling), physical resources to use such as pen holders, timers, plasticine and so forth.

I went into classrooms to observe my potential students (candidates suggested by their teachers and TAs). Once I confirmed the actual students, I took photos of their work as the benchmark for their starting point and I completed a survey on each with regards to their writing’s effect on their confidence and self-esteem. This survey will be completed again at the end of the intervention to confirm whether the handwriting and spelling intervention has been a success for them – Improving their writing and spelling and installing or improving their confidence and self-esteem.

For their first intervention lesson I implemented an initial spelling test using high frequency words (HFW) from the SNIP 1 Literacy Programme as a further benchmark. In addition to this, students were asked to write an initial first piece of writing to display their handwriting ability prior to the commencement of their intervention. The spelling test to be repeated at the completion of the handwriting and spelling intervention, plus observation and assessment of the students improved handwriting and spelling prowess.

For the second lesson and thereafter, lessons were planned on an hourly basis. The hour, being broken down into 3-4 main segments of: basic handwriting practise in their letters handwriting booklet, written work in their handwriting book, a SNIP session from the SNIP Literacy Programme, finally either a timed writing game or a recall writing and spelling game to end the last ten minutes on. This way it kept their interest and executed and performed the set criteria in the most advantageous way for them.

For their final piece of work I provided them with a concluding piece of writing in order to showcase their improved handwriting.

The spelling test was then repeated at the completion of the handwriting and spelling intervention, in addition to an assessment and comparison of the student’s enhanced handwriting and spelling improvements. Photos were once more taken to document this.

What would we do differently

Possibly use more physical learning tools to consolidate learning. Eg. sand, plasticine and so forth. I would further investigate inclusion – the needs and necessities of, and work to involve students with Dyslexia, plus those with Autism, ADHD, ADD and so forth…

Also, I would possibly consider the dynamics of the groups and group the students differently due to a slight conflict between two of the students. This did have a slight negative effect on the other students within the group on a couple of sessions.

I learnt that the handwriting and spelling intervention can have a very positive, long term effect on the students spelling and handwriting ability. In addition to, and as a direct result of this improvement, I learnt that the effect on the student’s behaviour due to their improved abilities in handwriting, spelling and understanding, and therefore their self esteem, their confidence and their self-belief in themselves was substantial and significant.


Finance –

Staff time used: TAs @ £10.19 per hour

Group A = 8 x 1 hour sessions – TA = £81.52

Group B = 8 x 1 hour sessions – TA = £81.52

Total Group A + B = (16 hours) = £163.04

Additional staff time used: Lesson planning and marking – 2 x hours per week = £20.38 x 8 = £163.04

Total staff – TA costs for both complete interventions = £326.08

Resources: Costs of: Handwriting books, handwriting booklets, SNIP booklets, worksheets, pens, pen grips, Sand, plasticine… Plus photocopying/printing costs.

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Wendy Hammond - EEF Lead Practitioners for Behavioural Learning
Amy Breadmore - SEN Coordinator