National Curriculum English must be taught in all state governed primary schools and secondary schools in England and Wales. Your child will be taught reading, writing as well as speaking and listening skills. Changes have been made to the national curriculum, which were put in effect in 2014. In English, there will now be a greater emphasis on learning spelling as well as understanding Shakespeare. What your child learns in school will be tested on via SATs in years 2 and 6. In 2016, new tests will be brought in for children in years 1 and 5. There are no formal SATs for key stage 3.


Early years

Between the ages of 3-5, children will be in nursery and reception. National curriculum English does not include children in their early years. However, the government do set detailed guidelines to early years practitioners because the skills learnt at this stage lay the foundation for all other key stages. Children will learn the fully alphabet and how to link letters and sounds. Your child will also be taught rhyming songs and poems. This will help children to learn about the components of each of the words they learn. Such skills will help your child to learn to spell.


National Curriculum English

Key stage 1 (KS1)

National curriculum English lessons begin in KS1. Children aged 5-6 are in year 1, children aged 6-7 are in year 2. The skills learnt in year 2 should build upon the skills learnt in year 1. Overall, your child’s English proficiency should have developed since their early years. In KS1, your child will learn to read and write using phonics. Phonics focuses on the sounds of words, which is why it is essential that children learn letters and sounds in early years. As well as reading more words, your child should also be developing an understanding of what they have read. Understanding is important because during this key stage, children will be starting to write their own stories. Therefore, it is important they know the logical way of how a story progresses and the correct punctuation and grammar to use. Children will be encouraged to read stories or their own work out loud, in order to improve their spoken English as well.


Key Stage 2 (KS2)

KS2 is separated into two bands. Children in years 3 and 4 are in lower KS2; children in years 5 and 6 are in upper KS2. National Curriculum English lessons will continue to build upon the foundation skills learnt in KS1.

In lower KS2, children will be introduced to a wider variety of texts such as plays, poetry and non-fiction. They should be able to read and understand each of these texts independently and confidently by the end of year 4. The increase in reading material that your child will engage with in lower KS2 will expose them to more words. Your child should learn how to spell the new words that they learn and incorporate them into their creative writing.

In upper KS2, these skills will be refined and consolidated. In upper KS2, your child should be comfortable using fundamental reading skills to pronounce and understand the meaning of new words that they come across. This may be through identifying a root word or looking at the context of the word. Understanding context will become increasingly important in upper KS2 as children are given texts to read from other cultures and traditions. As well as reading a variety of styles, your child will be taught to write in a variety of styles. They should be using their increasing knowledge of punctuation and grammar as well as a wider vocabulary in their own work. Your child should know how similar words can be used to give a slightly different meaning and how punctuation and grammar can change how their written work is interpreted.


Key Stage 3 (KS3)

Children in years 7-9 are in KS3. National curriculum English provides would expect children to incorporate varied and complex grammatical techniques to their spoken and written work, by the end of year 9. This is why it is important for your child to have a solid understanding of grammar in primary school. Your child will learn about these grammatical techniques through reading a wider variety of literature including prose, poetry and drama. Although there will not be formal SATs in year 9, children will need these skills to perform well on their GCSEs in year 10 and year 11. Therefore, it can be helpful to have some workbooks at home for you children to use.


National Curriculum English: Ages and key stages


National Curriculum English Stage Age Year
Early Years 3-5 Nursery and Reception
KS1 5-7 Years 1 and 2
KS2Lower KS2Upper KS2 7-117-99-11 Years 3 to 6Year 3 and 4Year 5 and 6
KS3 11-14 Year 7, 8 and 9