© N/ATexting has overtaken handwriting in the classroom
Pupils' handwriting is deteriorating amid growing reliance on computers and poor teaching, it has been revealed.

Vital developmental stages are being skipped as young children learn to type on a keyboard before putting a pen to paper.

But this means some children have not mastered the basic skill by the time they start their A-levels - even though they are experts at texting and communicating online.

Examiners complain some A-level and GCSE scripts are illegible, while pupil referrals to occupational therapists are now 'widespread'.

Ian Toone, of the Voice teaching union, said:
'Some teachers, especially in the younger age bracket, argue that it is a waste of time teaching joined-up handwriting because soon "everyone will be doing everything on computers".

'Other teachers believe that joined-up writing is more efficient than print and aids fluency of expression and speed of thought.

'Practising handwriting helps children learn letters and shapes, and can improve the creation and expression of ideas and help to develop fine motor skills, much more so than using a keyboard.'
He added:
'The secondary curriculum only requires children to write legibly, rather than cursively (joined-up).
Time to practice: Handwriting is becoming a forgotten skill amongst the young

Most examinations at GCSE and A-level are still taken using paper and pen so pupils cannot afford to give up on writing before they leave school.'

Teacher Nardia Foster has witnessed deteriorating standards in children's handwriting during a career spanning 26 years.

She said:
'I've come across children who have gone through primary, secondary and got to A-levels and they're still not forming their letters properly. They say, "I don't like to do joined-up writing. It's too hard, I'm not going to do it".
Slow or illegible handwriting can affect children's achievement and self-esteem, according to Sharon Tuppeny, of the College of Occupational Therapists.

She said:
'Referrals to occupational therapists for handwriting difficulties are widespread, but occupational therapists believe this is only a small representation of those who are struggling.

'When an occupational therapist discusses an individual child's writing with a teacher, the response is often, "Why are you only seeing that child? I've got ten more just as bad".'
Angela Webb, of the National Handwriting Association, said that often primary teachers were not taught how to pass on handwriting skills.

'Some don't know how to [teach it], particularly as they were never taught it themselves,' she added.