to think that school are being petty about black ink and handwriting pens

(93 Posts)
muminthenorthwest Sat 12-Oct-13 18:30:07

DS, 9, is left handed and having trouble with smudging his work as he writes (I am LH and had the same until I worked out how to write at an angle).

have bought a left-handed, quick-drying pen for him to try out, but have been told now that he can't use it as it is blue ink, not black. FFS.

queried it (there were no black ones available) and was told that they 'have' to write in black in books.

Possibly blue would be ok for writing on walls then?

AIBU to want to have a major rant about petty, pedantic rules (with no logical reason to them) stifling creativity and individuality in children and adults alike?!

I'd have thought it better to write neatly in blue than it looking like a drunken spider trail in black. But what do I know? I'm just the parent.

Poor DS is dreading parents' evening as he thinks I'm going to throw a wobbler. It's a possibility.

sweetpieandpeas Sat 12-Oct-13 18:41:16

Ours have to write in blue ink and the teachers mark in black. Our rules are to differentiate between anything we write on their work and their writing. Sometimes children use peer marking and it will show if it is marking done by a child or an adult. The children edit work in green so it shows if a child has acted on feedback to your marking. There is a reason for the colours in my school.

valiumredhead Sat 12-Oct-13 18:56:06

Ours is black ink only too, no biros,no fountain pens and no gel pens just those awful Beryl handwriting pens.confused

BringBackBod Sat 12-Oct-13 19:09:31

I think it's unfair that he's not allowed to use a black biro.
Ds3 (9) is left handed. He's still using a pencil. He's desperate to get his 'pen license', but I imagine smudging may be a problem.

MsWilliamTheBloody Sat 12-Oct-13 19:15:02

Ignore them!

Tell him to use the black pen and tell the teacher not to be so sodding ridiculous.

Is there anyway that you can get different coloured refill inks ?online.

Oldandcobwebby Sat 12-Oct-13 19:19:16

Forty odd years ago when I was in school, we had to write in pencil until the third class in the infants, then we had to use blue Biro. We were told that black Biro made our handwriting look messy. Then, in grammar school, we had to write with a fountain pen, unless it was in our rough books or in an examination.

I have always thought that teachers are congenitally weird, with major control-freakery issues.

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:21:04

Exactly what sweetpie said, the rules are usually set out in the marking policy as to the colour the child writes in, edits in, peer-marks in and teacher marking.
The school should be able to provide him with an appropriate pen if they are being arsey about yours. It wouldn't be a problem in my school as the children write in royal blue and I mark in green. So a blue Staiblo would be fine.

nicename Sat 12-Oct-13 19:21:43

Rules is rules I'm afraid! Poor old DH had to -smudge- write with a fountain pen at school!

I'd try online and see of you can get some 'leftie' pens.

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:22:26

'I have always thought that teachers are congenitally weird, with major control-freakery issues.'

Not at all, I have two lovely fountain pens, one with turquoise ink and one with purple. I'm not allowed to mark with either of them. sad

valiumredhead Sat 12-Oct-13 19:22:33

I agree old

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:24:18

Put in a request for them to change the writing and marking policies as they discriminate against lefties. I'm serious, Staiblo have lovely LH pens, but they use blue ink.

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 12-Oct-13 19:24:35

I've just bought ds a stabilio right handed own. It comes in a right or left handed version & I'm sure they had black & blue ink in them.

I've just googled and can't find them in black but you can buy black refills for them.

SatinSandals Sat 12-Oct-13 19:24:41

It won't be the teachers because they will have to follow weird rules about which colours go mark in. Gone are the days when they could just pick up the nearest pen!

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:26:16

Do you not see why some teachers are sick to death with this sort of nonsense and folderollery? Every day I run the risk of 'Shit, wrong colour'
Don't get me on highlighters, I'll be ranting all evening.

Donkeyok Sat 12-Oct-13 19:26:45

Best to let him fit in - its only the price of a pen isn't it? Save the other pen for projects it will get used. I know what you mean as we have been through pencils, fountain pens, Berol handwriting pend blue and now finally secondary school - yeah freedom. The teachers use different colours for the marking and I (teacher) get the kids to use different colours for peer marking and different activities. You don't want the teacher feeling stressed grin when their marking your ds work - might
change the mark or comments. wink

SatinSandals Sat 12-Oct-13 19:27:55

And whoever invented the interactive white boards didn't take account of the fact that some teachers are left handed!

goinggetstough Sat 12-Oct-13 19:31:38
Lots of black non smudge pens including stabilio.

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:32:13

You can flip the controls over on the IWB though, so it suits a left-hander.

Oldandcobwebby Sat 12-Oct-13 19:38:14

SilverApples - if I were you I'd mark with the fountain pens of your choice. As long as it shows clearly against the child's work, it really is of no consequence what colour you use. By actually going along with this proscriptive nonsense, you are encouraging the control freak who dreamed it up. What could happen? You won't get sacked! Stop putting up with this lunacy!

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:39:55

They tell you off and scold you and wave the marking policy at you and tell you that they'll tell OFSTED on you.
How do you think I found out that my lovely italic pens were not acceptable?

sweetpieandpeas Sat 12-Oct-13 19:40:28

You can flip the controls over but being LH is not as simple as just doing things on the other side or with the other hand. The layout of my classroom is for a left handed teacher which no one realises until I have to stand at the other side of my IWB but there is a unit there which can't be moved! So I stand at the usual side but can't write on my board from there so either have to write right handed or kneel down to write so I don't block the view of a child.

StephenKatz Sat 12-Oct-13 19:41:19

Does your DS go to my old school? They would insist we all had to write with fountain pens, black ink. All very well but as a leftie I found fountain pens high on impossible to use. I write in that hook handed-looks awful but in fact is really comfortable-kind of way and all it achieved was four years of smudged writing and tellings off for 'sloppy presentation'. It still pisses me off all these years later. Give me a lovely cheap Biro any day!

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 19:41:19

And then you are responsible for it being minuted in a staff meeting that All Will Mark In Green Ink.
Oh yes.

woowoo22 Sat 12-Oct-13 19:41:42

Try the cultpens website, if you email them they'll recommend a few options. A Uni-ball Jetstream is worth trying (v v quick drying so good for left handers, and has an excellent clear black line). The cultpens site has them and have also seen them in Tesco.

Donkeyok Sat 12-Oct-13 19:42:45

I remember a Head of Department telling me that my preferred colour green was only allowed to be used by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury.
Seriously grin

sonlypuppyfat Sat 12-Oct-13 19:43:16

Schools are pathetic full of little Hitlers

MistyB Sat 12-Oct-13 19:43:44

In our school, one class 5 teacher required black and the other requires blue. Nonsense!!

lljkk Sat 12-Oct-13 19:43:46

What do you do when the Staiblos get nicked?

Our primary school insists on Berol pens (no Biros, DS is also LH) but they keep disappearing. We now supply only old pens that are lying around the house & challenge the school to make further issue of it. No way I'd supply anything that costs more than 5p.

Meanwhile high school insists on ONLY Biros, sigh.

StephenKatz Sat 12-Oct-13 19:44:20


Donkeyok Sat 12-Oct-13 19:47:31

Yeas and its probably the teacher who has been nicking all the pens.
I know I have to do an amnesty where I hand back pots that have accumulated around shelves, cupboards and even in my drawers!

Oldandcobwebby Sat 12-Oct-13 19:49:07

SilverApples - my apologies! I see now that you are faced by a huge hierarchy of lunatics. I had stupidly thought that OFSTED had bigger issues to worry about than this petty nonsense. Clearly they must have made the whole of the education system so honed to perfection that there is time to worry about minutiae.

Come and work with me. I'll let you use any pen you like, and praise you for your creativity!

Picturesinthefirelight Sat 12-Oct-13 19:50:42

Ds's stabilio came with name stickers!

OldRoan Sat 12-Oct-13 19:51:36

Silver I was talking to a supply teacher who said she worked in one school where you were presented with a special Supply Teacher Pencil Case upon arrival, containing special 'Supply Teacher marked my work' stamps and the correct pens, along with a list of when they were to be used...

ProphetOfDoom Sat 12-Oct-13 19:52:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

noblegiraffe Sat 12-Oct-13 19:52:50

Teachers are told what colours to use as much as the kids are.

Which is a shame because I liked marking in glittery purple.

CallMeNancy Sat 12-Oct-13 19:58:18

Stabilo do the LH or RH easy write ones, & have black refills.
And if you can find them at sainsburys, they had special packs with 6 refills, 3 blue & 3 black, and we're 1/2 price a couple of weeks ago. I think I paid £3.50 for each pen with 6 refills.

Our school finally got rid of the beryl pens & now insist on these. But only blue ink smile

Donkeyok Sat 12-Oct-13 20:00:08

We had a whole school policy on how many spellings per page to correct.
Personally I felt it was too high a number for the SEN.
Spellings were to be corrected in red.
As an art teacher I always liked to mark in pencil
so later the child could rub out my comments and enjoy their work.
It always felt invasive when I saw another teacher writing on the students' work.

steppemum Sat 12-Oct-13 20:01:54

I do think this is majorly unreasonable

When I was teaching I had a LH in the class, she had the most beautiful writing and was really struggling with the switch to pens. (she was also a very quiet shy child) I talked to her about it and she said how hard she found it because it smudged and she just wanted to go on using pencil.

So she and I set out on a quest, we got hold of every pen we could find and we had a pen testing time, until she found one that she was happy with, because she could write comfortably and it didn't smudge. (it was actually a very basic bic biro that worked best)

Teacher shouldn't be so rigid.

laughingeyes2013 Sat 12-Oct-13 20:14:26

Surely all ink pens offers the choice of blue or black ink refills?

Please don't kick up a fuss over it for your son's sake. He has to be with these people all day, not you!

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 20:45:29

We have to mark in blue. A specific shade of blue.

I used to mark in purple........

Now there are special codes and everything and I am always getting told off for using the wrong code or forgetting the code.... Given I just about remember to breath in and out some days I get told off a lot....

Lack of cohesion apparently. I've even promised I'll tell ofsted I'm a rebel but it doesn't work....

Oh, and those Stabilo things come in black or you can buy black refils.

Spikeytree Sat 12-Oct-13 20:50:13

We mark in red, kids correct in green, we highlight in green and pink. Not allowed any variation or Ofsted will get you for lack of consistency.

As an aside, those exam boards who scan their papers for online marking do insist on candidates writing in black ink as it shows up better when scanned.

Salmotrutta Sat 12-Oct-13 20:56:21

I can't believe there are schools where teachers are told to mark in a particular colour and a colour policy exists! shock

I think we might have been told up here in Scotland that red pen might be frowned on a bit but everyone ignored that stupid suggestion thank god.

Salmotrutta Sat 12-Oct-13 20:58:15

OFSTED actually dictate shit like this down South? hmm

Thank heavens we don't have them up here - at least HMIE are grounded in reality!

Spikeytree Sat 12-Oct-13 20:59:24

I used to mark in green but that's not allowed anymore. Our Ofsted last Jan picked up on the fact that not everyone was fully following the marking policy that was introduced the previous Sept, so now we are checked up on at random (SLT poke their head round the door and grab a book off a child).

Salmotrutta Sat 12-Oct-13 21:02:59

I am actually astounded by this madness.

And very grateful I teach in Scotland.

bundaberg Sat 12-Oct-13 21:04:38

they are being very unreasonable. i would actually ask for a meeting to discuss this, i know that might seem like overkill but bear with me

the school have a duty to ensure every child is treated fairly and has equal access to the curriculum etc etc... i would argue that using the pens they are providing is unhelpful as he smudges his work, makes his hands grubby and can't read what he has written. potential to also get work marked down as it is messy?

THEY should be finding ways of dealing with this, including getting him an appropriate pen to write with. not telling you off because you've done it and they have soem ridiculous rule about the colour of the ink hmm

edam Sat 12-Oct-13 21:04:49

That's why our education system is doing so well, Salmotrutta. All that bossyboots stuff from Ofsted has done wonders for our international rankings...hmm

PatTheHammer Sat 12-Oct-13 21:07:34

A member of my dept and deputy head is an Ofsted inspector and in a dept meeting this summer the colour pen for marking was brought up and he said that Ofsted couldn't care less.

Obviously some inspectors have a stick up their arses about the most pathetic things.

teacherwith2kids Sat 12-Oct-13 21:07:48

In English (and extended written work in other subjects - but in those it's my choice, because the children understand the 'code') I have to mark positive things in pink, and 'to improve' in green.

In Maths, I have to mark in blue (all maths work by children is in pencil).

In other subjects, I tend to mark all responses that require only small amounts of writing in blue because at the moment all my children write in pencil. Later in the year they will start writing in (blue) ink, and I shall switch to black. I could, however, mark those subjects in luminous yellow as there is no fixed policy for them....

Spikeytree Sat 12-Oct-13 21:09:03

Our highlighters are 'perfect pink' and 'growing green'. Makes me want to vomit...

Salmotrutta Sat 12-Oct-13 21:14:48

Perfect pink and growing green??

What on earth?

Is this a primary school thing?

Please tell me it's not Secondary! I couldn't actually bear it...

mrspremise Sat 12-Oct-13 21:28:40

Here in Wales teachers seem to mark in any colour they want. TBH I've never seen any of my DC's work with highlighter on it, maybe that's a Saes thing too... Glsd to be out of it hmm

My DD is a leftie. A left handed friend recommended this:

She loves it, and unless I'm losing the plot this one is black.

BatmanLovesIckyBarry Sat 12-Oct-13 21:36:04

We have to mark in red. The children correct in green.

Highlighting - we have 'pink for think' and 'green for go'.

The children have to use blue.

If there is inconsistency we are hauled over the coals by the Headteacher.

teacherandguideleader Sat 12-Oct-13 21:48:29

I don't give a fig what colour my students write in - I teach mostly SEN and disaffected children - whatever works for them is good for me, I just choose something different to mark - or draw a box, write in it and colour itso it stands out. Fortunately I work in a school where this doesn't matter - sadly these schools are a minority.

NatashaGurdin Sat 12-Oct-13 21:50:36

I'm a leftie and use several different stabilo pens. They seem to come with the blue ink cartridges as standard but I've bought black (and red and green as I dislike blue) from the Anything Left Handed website and from Colemans, the ones from Colmans are six pack refills IIRC although I expect they are quite expensive if you have to buy a lot of them in a year.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Sat 12-Oct-13 21:55:41

when they get to year 11 you're just grateful they turn up with a pen, any colour will do.

5madthings Sat 12-Oct-13 21:58:38

Policies over colors that children and teachers use?!!

Ffs who thinks up this madness.

Ds3 is left handed and prefers to write in pencil still, we ja d a night are when they were making him use a small whiteboard for writing practose as he smudged it out as he wrote, eve tually they just gave him a clipboard and paper but it took many reminders and in the meantime nu erous school jumpers were ruined as the white board opens stain and his sleeve ended up covered in it!

homebythesea Sat 12-Oct-13 21:59:04

The reason for black not blue is that exams (GCSE etc) are now scanned and copied to send to examiners to mark- blue doesn't scan/copy as well as black so at my kids' schools all are told to write in black from the get go so they are not unduly traumatised by a switch to black later on grin

homebythesea Sat 12-Oct-13 21:59:04

The reason for black not blue is that exams (GCSE etc) are now scanned and copied to send to examiners to mark- blue doesn't scan/copy as well as black so at my kids' schools all are told to write in black from the get go so they are not unduly traumatised by a switch to black later on grin

ravenAK Sat 12-Oct-13 22:06:17

What homebythesea said.

We have changed to black from black or blue being fine for this reason.

We alao have a special marking stamp. Left mine at school on Friday, so, sadly, I'll now have to mark year 7's books hastily in Monday lunch, rather than properly tomorrow. Daftness.

Ineedmorepatience Sat 12-Oct-13 22:06:29

I have this problem with Dd3 , she is left handed and has Asd and hypermobility in her hands.

She had a massive meltdown over being told she had to use a berol pen as they have a ridge running where she puts her fingers so she hates them.

Last year she had to write in black but this year its blue!!

I found her a no smudge pen on cult pens and they sentusa nice freebie too.

There isnt much you can do really other than suck it up.

Agree about stabilo pens they are great but Dd3 thinks they look a bit babyish so we went for something a bit more grown up this time.

Good luck smile

teacherandguideleader Sat 12-Oct-13 22:09:59

What utter crap! They also have to sit 1m apart and work in silence - we don't make them work like tat all the time just because they do it in exams.
I sometimes give my students felt pens and plain paper for written work - bizarrely they often produce their best work as it doesn't seem like work.

rockybalBOOOOa Sat 12-Oct-13 22:11:52

I cannot use a blue Biro (well physically I can, I just don't) . I hate them. Not keen on blue ink at all. Am sure this is all to do with Berol handwriting pens at primary school!

Spikeytree Sat 12-Oct-13 22:38:58

Secondary, Salmotrutta. In fact I've just finished 'perfect pinking' and 'growing greening' my sixth-form essays. They were more green than pink unfortunately.

pinkballetflats Sat 12-Oct-13 22:50:04

Another example of why I'm beginning to loathe schools (my 3rd year as a rebel parent). HE is looking more and more attractive each day.

Perihelion Sat 12-Oct-13 22:54:54

What's wrong with writing with a biro? As a leftie it's all I've ever used on a regular basis, as I know it won't fecking smudge.
Am also pleased to be in Scotland with no SATS and no policy on pens.

SilverApples Sat 12-Oct-13 23:18:58

I think this thread has done a lot for the customer to understand how truly insane and limiting this one small aspect of classroom practice can be.
Now, multiply this by a thousand and fifteen, and you have our day.

NoComet Sat 12-Oct-13 23:31:11

Black ink is preferred at secondary, and maths has some extraordinarily complex system that involves owning black green and red Biro's and smoke coming from miss's ears when you don't have them.

DD1 got so fed up of one boy borrowing her pens she stomped off to the library and bought him a green and red biro (library sells pens, rulers and protractors very cheaply).

As for marking, I realise I'm a bad parent as I never look in their books. DD2 would explode if I did.

DDs confess they often don't look back and read the marking anyway.

MidniteScribbler Sat 12-Oct-13 23:49:24

At my previous school the head tried to dictate that we should stop marking in red pen before he thought it might affect student's self esteem! Apparently we should use a more "inspirational" pink or green instead.

Ummm no.

neverputasockinatoaster Sat 12-Oct-13 23:56:13

Oh yes! We had to stop marking in red because it was bad for self esteem.......

We now have to mark in blue....

Some kids work still gets covered in blue ink mind......


ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sun 13-Oct-13 00:02:58

There's a marking policy for every day work - for teachers?

Fucking hell, it's no wonder it's all going to the dogs - it's a wonder there are any teachers left.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sun 13-Oct-13 00:07:15

I thank fuck, pretty much every day at the moment, that I didn't go into teaching as I had planned to. I'd have killed someone by now and it would not have been one of the kids. FFS it's all so bloody ridiculous!

noblegiraffe Sun 13-Oct-13 00:16:17

We have to write "Verbal Feedback" if we talk to a kid about their work, simply so that if someone should check the book it can be seen to have been done.

It's pretty bloody insulting to be trusted so little.

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 13-Oct-13 00:33:34

noblegiraffe - we have to put a v in a circle along with a summary of what we said.........

And, if we do practical work we either have to take pictures as evidence and stick them in the books or we have to go through each book, write the date and a note about what we did...........

Each book a child uses has to have a copy of the marking code stuck in the front of it......

Years ago we used to tick and sometimes we'd write good or even very good. The kids took as much notice of it then as they do now....

Salmotrutta Sun 13-Oct-13 00:33:47

My impression is (and correct me if I'm wrong but I have worked with several teachers who have worked in Scotland and England) that we are generally trusted to be professional and capable of doing our job up here in Scotland.
So we don't tend to be micro-managed at such a ridiculous level.
Head teachers checking exercise books for pen colour!?

Most teachers up here would be outraged if a Head or SMT member swooped in to "check up".

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 13-Oct-13 00:36:09

Trusted to be professional and capable?

Mwah ha ha ha! Not where I work. Dear lordy no. I was recently graded as inadequate because I used rulers the member of the SMT deemed to be unsuitable......... (May just have outed myself there!)

Salmotrutta Sun 13-Oct-13 00:38:17

Where are you neverputasock?

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 13-Oct-13 00:39:24


Salmotrutta Sun 13-Oct-13 00:42:08

Move up here.

SMT would no more worry about your rulers than I would.

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 13-Oct-13 00:48:06

Salmotrutta - I'd move in a heartbeat. My dad lives in the Western Highlands and I grew up on the East Coast.

I miss Scotland.

Sadly DH has a very specialised job with very few openings anywhere........

One day I shall live in a house on the coast somewhere and home ed my children....

Sinful1 Sun 13-Oct-13 00:50:59

What's all this about multiple colours for marking?

I remember we wrote in blue or black (but they didn't care much if you used anything) teachers normally used red but again could use anything.

The way we knew what was our writing, the teachers or some other kids was being able to recognize our own hand writing.

Fakebook Sun 13-Oct-13 01:20:03

what about this?

or this?

Tbh, if he's been using black ink up until now, they'll just want him to go back to using his old pen again. I'd try to adhere to school rules, it must be for a reason.

Fuzzysnout Sun 13-Oct-13 05:33:19

Just buy him a black one FFS. It's really not hard in the days of the Internet. Save your fuss for something that actually is a problem.

englishteacher78 Sun 13-Oct-13 07:58:24

We have a marking policy but it doesn't involve colours and if I used highlighters on my sixth form work they would laugh! They do love reward stickers though!

DD1 had a new teacher in Y5 who insisted (on pain of detentions) that all work was done in black ink. The school office sold only blue ink pens. He wouldn't listen to reason, so I set the dragon school secretary on him.

Next day it was blue ink all round grin.

superstarheartbreaker Sun 13-Oct-13 08:22:07

Good old red pen for marking imo. All this fear of using the red= ridiculous!

sashh Sun 13-Oct-13 11:25:59

Highlighting - we have 'pink for think' and 'green for go'.

So useful for the colour blind kids.

nicename Sun 13-Oct-13 11:55:00

I remember once handing in an essay written in orange ink (I was about 12). Bless her, the teacher did mark it but asked that I used a 'traditional' colour in future. I used purple after that.

dollybird Mon 14-Oct-13 22:23:38

we had this with DS a couple of years ago. He was meant to have blue but had black. We were only told they needed handwriting pens, and he was made to borrow someone else's. I wrote her a letter asking what difference it made and why should someone else have to provide a pen just to suit them when he had perfectly good black pens (they mark in red so that's not the issue). She did reply but still didn't answer the question about what difference it made.

Same as the other week DS was making cupcakes at school. We realised the night before it said muffin cases but we only had the smaller cupcake ones. We sent him with proportionally less ingredients slight oversight on the marg too so he could make 12 small cakes. They said he had to use muffin cases and he borrowed some off someone else and made 12 small cakes in giant muffin cases hmm. Were delicious though grin

This bizarre, controlling attitude to stationery drives me nuts. The kids turn up to secondary school in year seven too afraid to turn the page without my permission and keep sticking their hand in the air to ask if they're allowed to write with x-coloured pen. They look at me with wide eyes when I tell them that they should make their own choices about stationery and use their initiative about turning the page.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 14-Oct-13 23:09:51

I realise it was four pages ago but I agree with mswilliamthebloody

How can smudges be preferable to blue ink. Ffs

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