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Is it time to draw a line under pen licences?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Dec 2, 2019 at 1:14 PM.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Should we scrap or keep pen licences? Do they really help or hinder children’s handwriting? One teacher looks at the controversial practice of rewarding pupils’ penmanship:

    ‘The theory is clear: we inspire children to improve their handwriting by promising the reward of a certificate and being able to write with a pen if they hit the correct level of skill required.

    But does it work? I am dubious. I think we need a whole rethink of the seemingly innocent pen licence.

    …In the mind of a child, the pen licence can often take on a disproportionate significance; a glaring signifier of those who are deemed good enough, and those who aren’t.

    Moreover, it is clearly problematic for dyspraxic and less able-bodied children – some children may never receive a pen licence at all.

    In no other area of the curriculum do we restrict access to all but the most able.’

    Sally Kawagoe is a primary school teacher in the East Midlands.


    What are your views about pen licences?
  2. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    I would never have been given a pen licence
    I was dyspraxia before the term was invented

    my chalk board work As a teacher was interesting- my students eventually cracked the code

    I am now 60 and retired so it doesn’t matter now but it would have done then
  3. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    A pen licence? Never heard of this.
    Jamvic likes this.
  4. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I remember this. Wasn’t allowed to use a pen in school until you could write neatly with pencil. You still used pen at home, but not at school.

    Nowadays really they should teach them to touch type. It’s the biggest disservice we do for pupils not teaching them to touch type.
    hgallagher, Jamvic, BTBAM85 and 2 others like this.
  5. bonxie

    bonxie Senior commenter

    We've taught touch typing for years in the primary school I work in. It makes editing stories etc so much easier for the pupils. They're also taught how to use thick marker pens to write in neat, print script so that their posters look good and how to produce neat, joined handwriting in pencil and in pen. They're given three types of pen and asked to use them to find out which type of pen they find most comfortable to write with and easiest to produce the neatest handwriting with. We've never used pen licences.
    Jamvic, peter12171, MrMedia and 2 others like this.
  6. maggie m

    maggie m Senior commenter

    We get year 7's writing in pencil, our rules are blue or black pen. They whine about not having a pen licence. In my experience it doesn't matter what they write with, they have no idea how to hold a writing implement, and can not spell.
    peter12171 and agathamorse like this.
  7. bessiesmith2

    bessiesmith2 New commenter

    Starting secondary school for me in the 1980s it was a bit like the opposite of a pen licence where everyone was obliged to write in fountain pen whether they were ready to master the skill or not. Biros were banned. I really struggled with hand-writing but finally worked it out and was eventually proud of my beautiful italic writing. I expect I would have been annoyed by the concept of a pen licence as I would have been one of the last to obtain it.
  8. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    We had this rule when I was young. I wrote in pencil until secondary school. I am left handed and was never allowed to use a fountain pen in primary school because of this.

    I think it’s just one more thing that is used with good intentions but it hindered my confidence and enjoyment of school and I always felt the odd one out. Kids can be cruel and it was something that others would use to bully with. Not nice, considering it was a school rule that caused the issues.
    hgallagher likes this.
  9. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    Chatting with a neighbour yesterday - he's older than me (70s) and he could write neatly before he started to school (age 5), but was then made to go back to using a pencil and writing in block capitals! Said it ruined his penmanship for years.

    Which makes me think teachers have never really got it right!
  10. Stevek

    Stevek New commenter

    My daughter earned her pen licence, then had it taken away from her because using a fountain pen caused all sorts of problems as a left hander. So a big presentation in assembly and the presentation of a pen, then humiliation!
  11. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Pen licence = licence to quill.;)

    Sorry couldn't help that one. Like a lot of ideas this sounds OK but several of the posts show the problems. I think you need to be hard nosed about all these ideas, if they work then fine but if not be prepared to ditch.
    ScienceGuy likes this.

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