Bryan Lewis: Good handwriting pens bright future for pupils

THE handwriting policy at Mary Erskine & Stewart's Melville Junior School, which requires children to write in a standard cursive script using a fountain pen and which gained worldwide recognition two years ago, has once again generated widespread interest, reflected in tonight's edition of The One Show on BBC1 at 7pm.

Hardeep Singh Kohli spent an afternoon recently observing one of our P6 handwriting classes and was shown how to form letters properly by teacher Louise Liddell. Hardeep expressed amazement not only at the quality of the children's writing, but also at their pride and their own high expectations.

We believe children who take pride in seemingly minor aspects of personal development are more likely to set high standards for themselves in all they do.

Although there is no direct link between using a fountain pen and examination results, there is a significant benefit to the children's self-respect.

When writing with a fountain pen, pupils have to concentrate and take their time. With practise they become proficient and they realise they have created something beautiful in itself, which encourages them to ensure the content reflects the quality of the writing.

Children today are growing up in an environment in which high standards can neither be assumed nor expected in public life. The adult world does not always reflect high standards – certain celebrities spring to mind – and we have a major responsibility when it comes to setting standards for children.

Today's children will not have to prove themselves solely in Edinburgh and Scotland; they will compete for jobs against worldwide competition. They will need to be confident, articulate, highly numerate and literate.

Children who are proud of the standards they set for themselves are far more likely to achieve academic success and for that reason, excellent handwriting, just like excellent manners and a commitment to hard work, is a crucial component of the education we provide.

Bryan Lewis is headmaster of the Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior School

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