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25 February 2008

For immediate release

Only 5% of children have a pen-pal today compared to 64% of their parents having one when they were a child, new figures from a nationwide study of children and their parents’ handwriting and letter-writing habits and thoughts, have revealed.

The latest figures, conducted by my child, the education resource for parents of children aged three to 13, also showed that almost 1 in 5 children (17%) slip into text speak when writing while 1 in 4 children (25%) don’t own a stationery set.

Meanwhile 29% of parents surveyed said the last time they received a handwritten letter was over a year ago while 19% said the last time they wrote to someone was over a year ago.

The survey results, the most recent research conducted into handwriting since June 2006 (Institute of Education) is being officially released on Monday (25 February) to mark Write a Letter Week 2008 which takes place from 22 to 28 February 2008.

This survey showed that many children are moving on to secondary school with sub standard handwriting skills (Institute of Education), jeopardising their ability to keep up in class, tests and exams, and affecting achievement beyond into further education and even employment.

The first of its kind, Write a Letter Week 2008 is a national campaign, organised by my child inviting schools, parents, libraries, and children’s centres to encourage children to improve their handwriting skills and celebrate the art of the handwritten letter.

Adults are also being urged to take part in Write a Letter Week too however, by using the week to write a letter to a friend, relative, young person, a former colleague or even to their local hero.

More than 80 schools across the country have already organised handwriting activities and events – many around the theme of the campaign ‘My Local Hero’ - but all with one main aim, to get children to develop better handwriting.

The campaign follows evidence that consistently shows that many children are moving on to secondary school and beyond with sub standard handwriting skills (Institute of Education).

Chris Davies, managing director, my child, said: “The results clearly indicate that although parents realise the importance of handwriting, they could perhaps do more to set an example to their children.
“By seeing their mums and dads sitting down and taking the time to write to friends and family members, children will be more inclined to pick up a pen themselves and get in touch with someone that they would normally send an e-mail or text message to. Hopefully Write a Letter Week will kick-start this.”

Suzanne Tiburtius, from the National Handwriting Association, said: “Some of the results of the survey throws into question the attitude of those, sometimes even including teachers, who suggest that teaching children to write is unimportant since ‘very soon we shall all be using computers’.”

Several celebrities including Olympic bronze medallist Diane Modahl, children’s author Julia Donaldson, and the children’s favourite Postman Pat, are also supporting Write a Letter Week 2008.

Speaking of the handwritten letter, Julia Donaldson, said: “The handwritten letter is still very important in this day and age, because it is a physical object, and the writer’s personality comes over in their handwriting and choice of paper as well as in what they actually write.

Also, I think ‘proper’ letters which come through the letter box are much more exciting to receive than emails or texts, and it’s nice to take time to read them over a cup of coffee, instead of just skimming through them the way you do on a computer.”

Write a Letter Week 2008 is sponsored by Stabilo, and Basildon Bond, and supported by the National Handwriting Association.

For further information about Write a Letter Week or to download a Letter Writing resource pack or My Hero resource pack visit www.writealetterweek.co.uk. There are also lots of ideas for handwriting activities and events that can take place during Write a Letter Week.

If interested in receiving a ‘10 fun ways to get children involved in the campaign’ sheet email walw@mychild.co.uk

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MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

For further information or to arrange interviews with handwriting experts or schools that are taking part in Write a Letter Week for your programme call or email Ross Watson on 020 7837 4935 or ross.watson@mychild.co.uk or Colette Machado at Write Ahead PR on 07803 606072 or writeaheadpr@email.com

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The survey involved 100 parents of 3-13 year-old children and 200 3-13 year-old children nationwide. Full survey results are available to journalists on request by telephoning Ross Watson on 020 7837 4935 or calling 07803 606072.

2. my child is an education resource for parents which consists of key stage specific software, National Curriculum wall charts, maths and literacy workbooks, magazines, and membership to a discount scheme.

3. The research by the Institute of Education is published in Handwriting Policy and Practice in English Primary Schools, £8.99.

4. STABILO is an international writing instruments manufacturer renowned for high quality products for over 150 years. In the 1970s it created the world's first highlighter, the STABILO BOSS original. It now also produces pens and pencils that actively help children when learning to write and draw.

5. Basildon Bond is a personal stationery range owned by John
Dickinson Stationery Ltd. The brand also includes quality recycled writing paper and envelopes, and business envelopes.

6. The National Handwriting Association is a charity which works at improving standards of handwriting in schools by advising and training teachers and teaching assistants, and by publishing books on relevant topics.




This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Write Ahead PR in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Education & Human Resources, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.