09 Nov Making good handwriting great at St Mary’s Prep School
St Mary’s Preparatory School, Henley on Thames – Case study
“Kaligo is great as it is so flexible. We can adapt it to meet a child’s specific needs or support them with a particular handwriting issue – this is where Kaligo has the greatest impact.”
- Immediate feedback
- Instant assessment of handwriting ability
- Time-saving, reduces the workload for teachers
- An in-depth view of handwriting for each child
- The bigger picture of class handwriting progress
- Prep school
- Henley on Thames
- 125 pupils, aged 3 to 11
About St. Mary’s Preparatory School
St Mary’s is a school with around 125 pupils, aged 3 to 11 based in the centre of Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. The school supports their pupils to develop a ‘love of learning for life’ and to do this, the school embraces teaching in many different formats to keep pupils engaged and achieving, ensuring that they reach their full potential.
The independent school is set in the home counties, and handwriting at the school has always been good, with visitors regularly commenting on the high standard, as Kate Bodle, Deputy Head, told us:
“Our handwriting has always been of a very good standard at the school. In fact, visitors used to comment about the beautiful handwriting across our school displays regularly. But, as a teacher, you know that the end result can look good – however, you can’t stand over every child in the class and watch how they form every letter. It simply isn’t possible. Furthermore, when letters are formed incorrectly, it can interfere with handwriting flow later, so it’s important that it is correct from the start and that the children do not form poor habits.”
“At our school, we had just taken new delivery of iPads for Key Stage 1, and Kaligo seemed the perfect app to try with our pupils. We particularly liked the independent learning aspect of Kaligo. Children from Reception to Year 3 could sit with their tablet and learn independently, self-correcting as they worked.”
Initially, the school introduced Kaligo to children in Reception to Year 2, as well as with children in older years who have handwriting interventions.
“Kaligo is a great way of using time in the classroom most effectively. The teacher could see exactly how they were forming their letters. Importantly, the teacher could also see that they were forming the letters correctly, what progress they were making and what levels they had reached. We can also see whether there are any specific challenges and support the child with those.”
“Pupils are engaged in their handwriting as they can see clearly how to improve their own work from their errors. Mistakes are part of learning, and Kaligo shows them how they are improving and that it’s ok not to get it correct the first time. Kaligo fits with our strategy to support independent learning, as it empowers the pupils and gives the child agency over their own learning.”
The Kaligo approach
The Kaligo app uses the latest AI technology to monitor a child’s handwriting as they use a stylus to trace letter outlines on a tablet.
Looking at how a child writes letters can provide teachers with an overview of any neurolinguistic processes behind a child’s own writing method. By seeing how they control the stylus on a tablet, and how long they take to form different strokes or letters, teachers can easily see where a pupil is struggling and where they are thriving.
During class, every child gets immediate, personal feedback with their handwriting. This just isn’t possible without using technology. Using this information, teachers can see in a few minutes whether the pupil needs any extra support, or whether there are any areas they need to spend more time on.
Kaligo uses machine learning (AI) which provides pupils with real-time, automated, and corrective feedback. Based on six years of research at the Laboratory IRISA/INSA, Kaligo has collected and analysed 15,000 handwriting strokes. Each handwriting stroke is analysed based on shape, direction, and order. It identifies any difficulties children as young as three may have with forming letters, numbers or even if they have an issue with pencil control.
Much more than handwriting
Children really enjoy using Kaligo, as Kate says, “Kaligo makes handwriting fun. In an average week, we use it for short, sharp bursts of handwriting, just 10 minutes three or four times a week. The children cannot wait to arrive in class and get the tablets out and start writing. As they get immediate feedback and can then make an adjustment and improve, they see the results instantly, which makes them much more engaged with handwriting.
“But Kaligo doesn’t stop there, as once they have mastered formation, we then use it to set our spelling lists and common frequency words as well.”
A winning formula
“The impact from Kaligo has been that our good handwriting has improved and is now great! In addition, the accuracy in letter formation is now excellent.
With Kaligo, in our Reception class, the pupils this year have not developed any poor letter formation habits, and we can see a real difference in their handwriting.
We are also very proud that one of our children had success in the Independent Schools Association (ISA) Handwriting competition, which is fantastic.”
“Another benefit is that Kaligo makes our teaching time so effective. The pupils love that teachers can leave a voice comment recording our praise for the pupil, it is something that the children find really motivating and as a teacher it’s just such a quick feature.”
“Teachers feel empowered as they don’t need to watch over but can guide and support and know that formation is accurate with Kaligo.”
The impact of Kaligo is already delivering significant improvement at St Mary’s, as Kate says:
“Kaligo is great as it is so flexible. We can adapt it to meet a child’s specific needs or support them with a particular handwriting issue – this is where Kaligo has the greatest impact.
“We had an older child with some special educational needs and the transformation within a couple of weeks was mind blowing. It’s so lovely to see a child who has sometimes struggled for a while overcome these barriers in a few tablet sessions. The parents could not believe the transformation and this is wonderful for the confidence of the children.”
“I recommend the free trial, teachers will quickly see the impact, it is easy to set up and the impact is rapid, it’s brilliant.”