CLPE Reading and Writing Scales

A  recommendation- take a look at this out new and free to download from the CLPE. These new progress and assessment scales are well worth a look particularly in terms of getting a bit of a fresh perspective on writing and reading development separate from new curriculum / interim assessment/ life after levels stresses. The CLPE are great for working from a research basis in their recommendations and giving practical ideas for how to teach and encourage literacy skills. The scales describe what a reader/ writer at the various stages of development look like and suggestions for teaching at each of those stages.From beginning reader or writer through to developing, fluent and independent. It also gives some key principles underpinned by well-evidenced research.

These are some that I thought were particularly significant/ useful if you haven’t got the time to read the full thing!

  • Learning to read and writer are interdependent processes, making links between both helps both.


  • Comprehension taught from the earliest years in school makes a significant difference to children’s effectiveness as readers.
  • Teacher’s knowledge of high quality literature (both classic and contemporary) is crucial enabling teachers to make personalised and meaningful recommendations.
  • Children use fundamentally different processes to identify words as they make progress in learning to read ( not just phonics!- yes i said it!)




  • It is really important to write publicly alongside older children ( see my previous post on writing journals and teachers as writers in the classroom on this). Research shows children make progress in writing when their teachers engage in writing themselves, sharing experience and expertise with their classes.
  • As children become more independent they need to have regular opportunities, ideally daily, for extended writing including self directed writing.
  • Digital texts have a key role to play in school reading and writing and keyboard skills should be taught as well as handwriting skills. ( I think the curriculum is going to have to embrace multimodality in a much bigger way soon.)


And lastly, I couldn’t leave this one out in the current climate-

‘High stakes accountability testing has consistently been demonstrated to undermine teaching and learning, this is particularly true for low-acheiving students.’

Amen to that.











CLPE Reading and Writing Scales

Why make time for handwriting?

In the good old days when there was far less targets and testing for Key Stage One, I was able to do 20 minutes of handwriting time 3 times a week in my Year One class. The whole class would practice letter formation and spelling words (we didn’t teach joining at that stage then) and it seemed to really improve their writing – as well as being a nice calm start to the afternoon.

It feels like handwriting is often neglected these days due to the pressure of overpacked timetables and targets (again). I had a lecture on handwriting for my last MA module and it was interesting to be reminded about why its important.

So – a quick summary on what it’s all about:

  • Writing is a very cognitively demanding process and difficulties with handwriting are often one of the earliest constraints on writing development.
  • Berninger (1998) says handwriting is ‘language by hand’ and much more than just fine motor skills – it impacts fluency and composing of writing.
  • The aim is legibility, speed and automaticity.
  • It begins with gross motor skills in the early years (large movements with the arms and hands e.g twirling ribbons / chalks on walls / big construction / climbing apparatus) moving to fine motor (tweezer activities / playdoh / baking etc) to develop wrist strength and hand dexterity.
  • Boys often develop fine motor control later than girls.
  • The process of handwriting then begins to be about the 4 P’s: posture, paper position, pencil grip and pressure. Concentration and co-ordination are also important too.

I will post again in the next few weeks to think about the practical application of all this in the classroom, in the meantime I need to work on my own untidy scrawl as my Year 6’s keep telling me they can’t read my feedback in their books…



















Why make time for handwriting?