“Learning to write is one of the most important things that a child at primary school will learn. Children use their writing in almost all other subjects of the curriculum. Good writing also gives children a voice to share their ideas with the world.

For a child, learning to write can be a tricky business, not least because good writing involves handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation not to mention what we want to write and who we are writing for.”Oxford Owl

As a school, we use the Cornerstones Curriculum to deliver our lessons for all subjects. This is a knowledge based curriculum which takes the requirements of the National Curriculum and breaks it into various projects for each year group.

“Every project features a weekly English plan that develops over the course of a week giving you [teachers] a head start to plan for more detailed group activities. As well as that, Literacy is integral to all subjects, giving children the opportunity to use their reading, writing and language skills across the curriculum.”

We also use the Pie Corbett, Talk for Writing, approach to teaching writing which fits in well with the Cornerstones Curriculum. It ensures children develop the language they will need to imitate the different text types through spoken language activities before moving on to innovating and then writing their own versions of a genre.

“Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.”Talk4Writing


At DBCPS we want our children to develop a neat, fluent handwriting script therefore as soon as they have learnt to print each letter of the alphabet using the correct formation, ideally by the end of the Early Years, we introduce the continuous cursive script. There are many advantages to learning this style of handwriting including:

  • As Continuous Cursive letters naturally join, children only have to learn this one font for lower case handwriting.
  • Continuous Cursive letters flow rhythmically from left to right, aiding the speed and fluidity of the writing.
  • The starting and finishing points for all Continuous Cursive letters are easier to remember (they all start on the line and, other than a few exceptions, all finish on the line), which can be especially helpful for children with specific learning difficulties.
  • Teaching Continuous Cursive letters in family groups reinforces the shapes and directional pushes and pulls of the pencil needed to handwrite and can limit letter reversal issues, such as b & d.
  • The transition to joined writing is simple and occurs sooner, allowing children to concentrate on the composition of the writing, because they no longer have to think about how to form the letters.
  • Words are written in one set of movements, without the pen being taken off the paper, helping the motor memory store spellings. This is especially important for those irregular spellings which so many children find hard to commit to memory.

Below is an example of each letter of the alphabet so you can see the style of each letter:

When assessing the quality of a child’s handwriting we look for the following points:

  • Correctly formed and orientated letters including lower and upper case letters and digits.
  • Letters positioned correctly on the line with clear ascenders and descenders.
  • Consistent size and spacing of letters and words.
  • Joined fluent style.

As children develop their own handwriting style, they will naturally adapt their letter style. You can see this in the samples of handwriting from Reception to Year 6 below. These samples were taken from activities carried out during Literacy week. Children were challenged to do their best handwriting while copying out a choice of poems. The focus was purely on handwriting so you may spot one or two spelling errors and one piece isn’t quite finished.

 Sample 1 - Reception

In Reception children focus on the formation, orientation, position and size of the letters as well as spacing between words. In this sample, you can see clear letter formation and most letters are orientated correctly. Spacing between words is generally clear although letter position still needs to be developed.

 Sample 2 - Reception

In this sample from another Reception child, you can see generally clear letter formation and most letters are orientated correctly. Spacing between words is clear although letter position still needs to be developed.

 Sample 3 - Year 1

This is a very advanced handwriting style for a Year 1 child. You can clearly see that the child has a confident, cursive style which is fluent and accurately joined. Letters are correctly positioned with clear ascenders and descenders; size and spacing is consistent throughout.

 Sample 4 - Year 1

The expectation for children in Year 1 is to form and orientate all letters correctly, including lower case and capital letters. There may be some inconsistency with size and spacing between words and letters. Letter position is correct, with clear ascenders and descenders. In this sample, you can see that the child has started in a cursive joint script, as children have been taught the joins, however she has reverted to printed letters as the piece moves on. This is typical of a Year 1 child as they develop and practise their joined script. You can also see that descenders are clear but inconsistent letter size means that ascenders are not always as clear.

 Sample 5 - Year 2

Year 2 children have been taught the letter joins and should be joining their letters consistently. This can have a negative impact on the overall presentation of their work as they get used to the continuous flow. In this sample, you can see that this child is confidently joining their letters and is able to keep their ascenders and descenders clear. Letter sizing lacks consistency throughout the piece but that will improve with practise.

 Sample 6 - Year 2

Consistent letter size and spacing with ascenders and descenders is important as children write on various line spacing and this sample a good example. Even with narrow lines, letters are clearly positioned.

 Sample 7 - Year 3

Children are beginning to develop their own style in Year 3 although focus is on ensuring letter formation, size, orientation and position is correct. Size of letters, including capital letters, are correct and spacing between words and letters is clear. This sample demonstrates the consistent letter size and spacing with clear ascenders and descenders.

 Sample 8 - Year 4

In Year 4, handwriting should be legible with letters formed consistently and of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another. Spacing should be sufficient so that ascenders and descenders do not meet. In this sample, you can see a fluent style with a slight slant has been developed.

 Sample 9 - Year 4

In this Year 4 sample, you can again see the fluent, cursive style with a slight slant. Ascenders and descenders are clear, despite there being no lines.

 Sample 10 - Year 5

In upper KS2 children’s writing should be legible and they should be developing a fluent, cursive style although in Year 5 the quality may not be maintained at speed. In this sample, you can see that there is clear letter formation, orientation and position with consistent size and spacing.

 Sample 11 - Year 5

In this Year 5 sample, the handwriting is again legible with clear letter formation, orientation and positon. The child has developed his own style with a slight slant to his letters and more exaggerated loops on his descenders.

 Sample 12 - Year 6

The expectation for all children leaving Year 6 is that they have developed a legible and fluent writing style and that children make choices about whether to print or join their handwriting. This sample demonstrates a fluent, cursive style when joined.

Watch this video for tips on how to make handwriting fun from the Oxford Owl website.

Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation (SPAG)


The National Curriculum has broken down the spelling rules and common exception words that children need to learn in each year group. To build on the phonic knowledge children have learnt during their Read Write Inc. lessons in Reception and Year 1, we use the Read Write Inc. Spelling program. This matches the requirements of the National Curriculum and ensures children learn the different spelling rules in a fun way. Children are introduced to a rule through a video and then complete a variety of different activities throughout the week including identifying the different sounds or syllables in the words, adding suffixes or prefixes to create new words and playing games such as speed spelling.

Grammar and Punctuation

Children are taught grammar and punctuation through standalone lessons as well as during the main literacy lesson, in the context of the genre they are learning about. These lessons prepare the children for the SPAG test at the end of each Key Stage. More information about what grammar and punctuation each year group is expected to use and understand can be found in the Expected Writing documents at the bottom of this page.

Expected Levels of Writing

Year 1 Expected Level of Writing Year 2 Expected Level of Writing Year 3 Expected Level of Writing Year 4 Expected Level of Writing Year 5 Expected Level of Writing Year 6 Expected Level of Writing