Preventing infection in schools

Comment by DR ANDREW KEMP, Principle Scientific Officer for the Q Technologies group of companies

Top tips for teaching handwriting

Comment by DR JANE MEDWELL, a leading academic in the field of handwriting and literacy and Director of Postgraduate Research at the University of Nottingham

Schools and nurseries are classic high-risk incubation and cross-contamination sites for two main reasons; • Children have developing immune systems making them more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.

• This highly susceptible group are concentrated in large numbers in small spaces, meaning they are in frequent physical contact with each other, increasing the potential for cross-contamination and the speed at which infections spread.

It is well known that 80% of communicable diseases are transmitted by

touch usually as transfer from surfaces or directly from skin. It is no wonder respiratory and gastro-intestinal illnesses are a year-long cause of absenteeism of both staff and pupils. Recent advances in antimicrobial technologies now allow schools to introduce persistent disinfectants and break the cycle of contamination. The use of alcohol gels is now highly contentious in healthcare. In fact, a

recent study (see graph) shows that they only disinfect for short periods of time, and actually increase contamination over time. In fact, simply washing hands with soap and water is shown to have a better long-term effect than alcohol gel. When the 5th generation Si Quat used in Q Shield persistent sanitiser is used, bacteria are continually killed for up to 24 hours. Q Shield is a unique, medical grade formula developed by Q

Biotechnologies to coat any surface with a long-lasting, invisible anti- microbial barrier, which kills norovirus, flu and many common pathogens. Applying Q Shield Skin Care on hands at the start of each day is proven to reduce staff absence due to sickness by 15% and pupil absence due to sickness by 37%. It’s impossible to prevent children bringing germs in from home, but it is

possible to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and touch transmission by using Q Shield. For more information contact us on 01522 837220.

Handwriting is a crucial aspect of a child’s educational upbringing. In fact, numerous studies have found that developing the skill of writing automatically is crucial to being able to write high quality content. What’s more, writing by hand confers a wide range of educational benefits for children, including improved motor skills, increased information retention, and enhanced creativity and self-expression. Despite this, a survey conducted by Berol and Paper Mate as part of

the Write Your Future Campaign showed that a third of teachers (31%) spend less than 30 minutes teaching handwriting each week. For children to reap the benefits, it is important to keep handwriting practice at the top of the agenda both at home and in school. Here are some fun and accessible ways that teachers and parents can get children to write more often:

1. Start with their name The most important word a child learns is their name, so it’s a good place to start handwriting practice. Get them to start by tracing the individual letters in their name, then copy their full name, and find the letters in their name in other words. With early years classes, try using laminated name cards that children can trace around, copy and decorate. With repetition, this can be a great starting point for learning to handwrite.

2. Make it happen everyday Try and incorporate handwriting practice into everyday learning activities. For instance, get younger pupils to sign in by hand to the register instead of taking a roll-call. For more advanced learners, try dramatic play activities like taking orders in a restaurant or writing a shopping list to get them to use writing purposefully. Creativity is key and can really make a difference to their interest in handwriting.

3. Use sensory activities Practise letter formation by getting your pupils to practise handwriting blindfolded, or tell them to practise writing on different surfaces, like chalk on the playground floor or in the mud with a stick. You can also get children interested in handwriting by giving them different colours and textures of paper to write on.

Average CFU cm2 Counts

Washing only 70% Alcohol Q Shield

250 500 750 1000 1250 1500 1750 2000 2250 2500 2750 3000 3250 3500 3750 4000

0 Pre wash Post wash

5 mins Post Treatment

Comparison test over time Hand washing only v Alcohol gel v Q Shield 3,491

4. Practise letter movements Children improve their handwriting through letter-writing practice, but this doesn’t have to be writing little letters on paper. Let kids get messy with this activity, writing big letters on walls or little letters in shaving foam, mud or sand. It’s not about the neatness; it’s a great way to check their progress in letter formation over time.


1,264 1,261 1,282 1452 606


222 246 234 46

1hour Post Treatment

Average CFU counts from 200 hundred hands in each group 24 362




5. Reward writing It’s important that children build confidence in their writing ability. One way to do this is to make rewards a regular feature of the learning process. Encourage your class by displaying their work on the wall when it reflects a good achievement or effort. Importantly, make the effort to engage with what they are writing to let them know that their effort is valued. This way, we build positive feelings around handwriting and encourage them to do it more!

June 2018

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