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Help for English at KS1 & KS2: What to Expect from the English Curriculum

By Sophia, published on 21/09/2017 Blog > Academia > School English > KS1 & KS2 English Curriculum

It is hard to believe: your small child is now a functioning member of society. S/he is participating in school, and learning aspects of the English language that require practice and formal instruction.

If feels like only yesterday that she took her first steps!

Surely you have questions and concerns over what your child will face during the course of his/her early forays into English language learning.

Key Stage One, A General Overview

Primary school English teachers build on Early Years Foundation Stage elements of academics, a facet of which is studying English.

No need to worry if your child was not exposed to the entire two-year EYFS programme. Reception Year – the first official year of primary school should have sufficiently prepared him/her for Key Stage learning.

Your child has already learned to read some basic English words during Reception.

One aspect of the language learning that Year One teachers follow through on from Reception is corresponding spoken sounds with written words, a technique that involves reading individual syllables and putting them together to form words.

In addition to teaching pupils the reading of new words, English teachers review and consolidate previously gained language skills.

A measure of focus is placed on words that do not follow any particular rule for correct spelling; words that require memorisation.

For a list of such words, you can refer to this page.

That chart will indicate which words and word types your English student should master at any given stage of his/her early education.

Your child will learn English through group acitivities Your young English learner will be encouraged to discuss a variety of topics. Source Pixabay Credit: Theo Hengelmolen

Key Stage One English Skills Goals, Year One

Your child will develop the ability to blend individual phonetic units – syllables – into words when reading, and develop the habit of applying this skill every time s/he encounters a new word.

English teachers will promote reading through active use of books in the classroom.

You should expect your student to bring books home from school for independent reading. This is your opportunity to participate in your child’s English lessons.

At this stage of your child’s academic experience, writing skills will develop slower than reading and speaking skills.

That is perfectly natural, as it takes longer to acquire the discipline needed to guide a pencil in forming letters.

You can assist in your child’s progress by making paper and writing tools abundantly available. You can also guide him/her in the proper formation of letters.

Literacy at Key Stage One is not limited to language aspects such as reading and writing.

Basic social skills are reinforced and more advanced ones are taught through group- and pairwork, taking turns and various role play activities.

These activities also help build proficiency in vocabulary.

Key Stage One English Learning Goals, Year Two

By this stage of your child’s education, s/he should be able to read simple words and recognise punctuation marks.

Pupils will increase their fluency by being able to read words that do not follow the main spelling rules without needing to sound them out.

Your child’s English course will build upon those skills and provide the means of further learning.

Reading skills improve through further study of more complex language usage materials such as poetry and informational books.

The sooner that pupils can read well, the greater their vocabulary and English language comprehension.

Reading comprehension leads to greater understanding of an array of topics. That is why that aspect of language training is emphasised during early education.

Students are expected to compose whole sentences by this time, and be able to write them down.

At this point in your child’s education, spelling comes into focus as a separate aspect of the English learning programme.

By this time, students should realise that not every word is written the way it sounds.

The development of spelling skills comes into sharper focus at this stage.

Key Stage One Exams

After the academic overhaul of 2014 for UK public schools, the Department for Education established testing for students moving on to Key Stage Two.

While there has been considerable debate over the subject of academic testing for young children, the fact remains that, in May of next year, students at that grade level are projected to sit for that exam.

Reading comprehension, spelling, grammar and punctuation are areas to be assessed.

No cause for worry, though. Your child’s English teacher has the responsibility to administer the exam in a low-key manner and, if it proves too stressful for any student, testing can be interrupted or suspended.

If your child is an Esl student, extra help should be given from the start of Year One. If you are the parent of an ESOL learner, be sure to talk with your child’s teacher about any extracurricular activities available to him/her, designed to improve English skills.

Take a look at this in-depth view of Key Stage exams!

Key Stage Two, a General Overview

By this time, students should be able to read age-appropriate materials with little to no effort.

As well as fluency in reading words that are well-known, they should be able to read words outside of their spoken vocabulary with minimal trouble.

Non native speakers are expected to be at the same level as native speakers of English in facets of language learning.

Students should be able to express and write their ideas, using correct punctuation.

Key Stage Two teachers focus on these competencies, and build on them.

Foster a love of reading in your child Encouraging your child to read is a great way to help her English learning Source: Pixabay Credit: StockSnap

Reading at Key Stage Two

Students are expected to identify and understand common words, sound out unknown words and thereby grow their vocabulary.

Further, they should:

  • listen to and discuss a wide range of materials, from poetry to non-fiction and textbooks.
    • Exposure to such a variety not only improves listening skills, but ensures comprehension of several types of writing.
  • Role play or recite from different types of texts
  • Identify how language structure and presentation contribute to meaning.
  • Discuss aspects of such texts that have fueled interest and/or imagination.
  • Predict what might happen, from context clues and details given in the narrative.

Do you know where to find the best English learning resources?

Key Stage Two Writing Abilities

Students must demonstrate proficiency in applying pre- and suffixes. That includes changing the spelling of words, as necessary.

Comparatives and superlatives are included in that measure.

Your English learner should be able to look words up in the dictionary by knowing only the first few letters of the word in question.

Effective and accurate punctuation is stressed at this level: pupils in English classes must be able to place the possessive apostrophe correctly, for regular and irregularly pluralised words.

Of course, periods, commas and quotation marks must also be correctly used.

Composition and essay writing criteria include being able to organise one’s thoughts around a central plot and discuss that plot line using oral English.

Students will be called on to assess their own and classmates’ writing, and offer suggestions for improvement.

Furthermore, they are required to proofread their writing for spelling and punctuation errors.

Note: handwriting capabilities are constantly measured and improved at this stage of your child’s education.

Students should write in a flowing cursive script, with breaks between letters as per guidelines.

Knowledge of grammar is displayed by proper use of all parts of speech: conjunctions, prepositions, adjectives and adverbs among them.

Proper sentence structure, appropriate punctuation and using the correct verb tense figure prominently in the Key Stage Two pupil’s evaluation of English mastery.

Why not make learning how to read and write fun with these learning activities?

Revel in your child's success learning the English language Share in your English learner’s glee as she masters every aspect of the language Source: Pixabay Credit: Premier Companies

Exams for Year Six Students

In May 2016, the Key Stage Two exam was revised to meet the new guidelines set forth by the national curriculum.

This exam is more rigorous than the ones from previous years, and has a completely new marking system and grading scheme.

Your child will sit for this more advanced SAT exam after successful completion of Scholastic Year six.

S/he will be required to write an essay for a target audience on a given topic.

Spelling, punctuation and application of grammar rules all weigh in when calculating results.

In consideration of your child’s advancing intellect, s/he will be challenged to interpret information and discuss writers’ choice of language and form.

You can help your child learn English form faster with these tips!

This exam includes an aural spelling test, in which a series of words are read out loud, and the student must spell each word.

Because such heavy emphasis is placed on homophones during this stage of your child’s English learning, some of these words may call on your child’s ability to discern a words’ meaning from context, and write the correct word. For example:

I must take my car to the garage. Its ____________ are squeaking. (brakes/breaks)

Bringing your child to school and leaving him/her in the care of teachers does not mean you are excluded from his/her English learning.

As active as you surely are, taking time to read with your child or let him/her read to you a little bit each day will bring the positive reinforcement children need in these early years to learn English.

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