PAST generations of schoolchildren were taught beautiful copperplate and punished if their handwriting was less than perfect - however today, the prevalence of computers and mobile phones means elegant handwriting is fast becoming a lost skill.

But, as National Handwriting Day is celebrated tomorrow, a leading member of the Scottish teaching union EIS says we needn't fuss and called for the importance of handwriting in the curriculum to be downgraded to reflect modern life.

Susan Quinn, EIS education convenor, said: “You need to look at the balance of the curriculum and give appropriate time to skills that are needed. I don’t think it’s appropriate to give as much emphasis on handwriting as schools did in the past.

“The idea that handwriting must be immaculate is no longer relevant. What is the relevance of beautiful copperplate? That is more about artwork. Is it vital to do that to write a quality report or piece of creative writing? GPs’ handwriting is the worst and it doesn’t mean they are bad doctors.

“Handwriting is a skill that supports other aspects of working and in the early stages of schooling it has a place on the curriculum as it helps children understand the formation of letters and is part of learning phonics.

“Most young people will present their work in digital form, although work for qualifications is still handwritten. Some schools are getting the balance right between old and new skills but not all of them. We have modern technology in the form of laptops and tablets and the technology has been around for 20 years, but schoolchildren continue to write with pencils and jotters.”

However, Duncan Tolmie, a calligraphy lecturer at City of Glasgow College, mourns the demise of handwriting in schools and calls for calligraphy to be taught to children in order to rekindle a lost art.

“Keyboards have taken over and handwriting is not taught as well or as much as it used to be,” he said. “Because of the prevalence of phones and texting, children see handwriting as a chore. But in my experience they are fascinated when they see calligraphy – they love the flourishes and thick and thin strokes and take to it with a natural ability.

“There is a halfway house between calligraphy and the copperplate that my parents learned at school and that is modern calligraphy, which is fun, easy to learn and very satisfying.

“My tip for anyone who wants to improve their handwriting is to get a fountain pen with a broad nib or a calligraphy felt tip pen, which makes even the worst handwriting look good.”

“I’d love to see good handwriting come back. A beautifully handwritten note or letter is so much more personal than a text or an email. When the post lands on the mat, everyone reaches first for the handwritten envelopes rather than the typed ones as they are bound to be a personal letter or card, or an invitation to a social event.

“Lovely handwriting still impresses people – I got a job once purely on the strength of my handwriting. Beautiful handwriting is easy to read and makes people smile.”