By Atom | Nov 7, 2023, 4:32 PM
English is a core subject at primary school and taught every day. The Key Stage 2 national curriculum aims for children to develop high standards of literacy and a love of reading for enjoyment.
This guide will help you understand more about the Key Stage 2 English national curriculum and the skills your child will learn. Keep reading to:
find out what’s taught on the KS2 English curriculum
learn about KS2 English tests
get tips to support your child’s learning at home
The national curriculum is a programme of study for primary and secondary schools in England. State schools teach the same subjects and standards so that children across the country all learn the same things.
The national curriculum is organised into ‘key stages’, which span different age groups. Tests at the end of each key stage assess your child’s performance and understanding of what they have learnt.
Early years: ages 3–5 (nursery and reception)
Key Stage 1: ages 5–7 (Years 1–2)
Key Stage 2: ages 7–11 (Years 3–6)
Key Stage 3: ages 11–14 (Years 7–9)
Key Stage 4: ages 14–16 (Years 10–11)
Key Stage 2 is divided into two blocks – Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 and 4) and Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 and 6). The topics and skills your child learns in Upper KS2 builds on and expands on the topics and skills in Lower KS2.
By the end of Year 4, your child should be reading age-appropriate books, decoding unfamiliar words, and understanding what they have read. They’ll learn to read silently, examine non-fiction critically, and justify their interpretations.
Your child should be able to accurately express their thoughts in writing, using proper punctuation and a wide vocabulary to make an impact. They will gradually become more independent and be able to grasp the differences between written and spoken language.
Apply their knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes to understand new words
Read a range of fiction, poetry, plays, and non-fiction
Recognise themes, such as the use of magical devices in fairy stories and folk tales
Perform poems and play scripts using intonation, tone, volume and action for effect
Recognise different forms of poetry (such as free verse and narrative poetry)
Discuss their understanding of a text by explaining the meaning of words in context, drawing inferences, and identifying how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
Retrieve and record information from non-fiction texts
Discuss books with others by taking turns and listening to what others say
In Years 5 and 6, the national curriculum aims to make reading an enjoyable habit both in and out of school. Your child should be reading silently and able to understand the text, infer meanings, and discuss their reading. Exposure to texts such as stories, plays, poetry and non-fiction will enhance their reading fluency and writing skills.
Your child will also learn how to express their thoughts with increasing accuracy using a range of grammar and punctuation. They will learn how to adapt their writing to the audience and purpose and understand why authors use specific grammar, vocabulary, and structure for meaning and impact.
Apply their knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes to read aloud and understand new words
Continue to read and discuss a wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction, and textbooks
Increase their understanding of different themes, including modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions
Recommend books to others
Make comparisons with and across books
Learn a wide range of poetry by heart
Perform poems and plays, showing understanding through intonation, tone and volume
Discuss their understanding of what they have read by exploring the meaning of words in context, drawing inferences, predicting what might happen next, summarising ideas, and identifying how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
Evaluate the impact of figurative language on the reader
Distinguish between fact and opinion
Retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction
Discuss books with others, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously, and through presentations and debates
At the end of Year 6, children in England primary schools take Key Stage 2 Standard Assessment Tests, known as Key Stage 2 SATs. These tests are used to assess your child's knowledge of the KS2 curriculum and for the government to understand the quality of education across schools in the country.
Pupils take three English SATs tests across two days in May:
Paper 1: grammar and punctuation (45 minutes)
Paper 2: spelling (15–20 minutes)
Paper 3: reading (60 minutes)
Find out more about the Year 6 SATs English exam in 2024.
Reading books together at home can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your child, while helping them discover a lifelong love of reading. Reading to your child is just as important as listening to them read](https://atomlearning.com/blog/reading-to-your-child).
Encourage your child to pick out books from different genres and themes (both fiction and non-fiction!) and set aside regular reading time together. After each reading session, ask them questions to help them develop skills in analysis and inference. For example, you could ask:
What do you think is going to happen?
How would you describe this character?
How might this story be different if it was told from another character’s point of view?
Can you summarise what has happened?
Looking for reading inspiration? Download Atom’s recommended reading lists for ages 7–11.
Register your child for Atom’s Live Lessons for an exciting and interactive learning experience! Join Atom’s engaging teachers to build strong foundations in English and learn how to answer tricky exam questions.
Family board games are a great opportunity to develop English skills while having fun!
Scrabble is one of the nation’s most popular board games and is a useful way to help your child improve their spelling skills. Playing with an older sibling or a parent can also introduce your child to a greater range of vocabulary.
Let your child practise their storytelling skills with Dixit. Each player takes it in turn to be the storyteller, giving a clue to what’s on one of their beautifully-illustrated cards. The other players need to try to match their cards to the clue to win points.
Discover more of our favourite educational board games.
Let Atom take your child on a learning adventure with English, Maths and Science! Unlock over 70,000 questions aligned to the national curriculum.
Answer puzzles and watch video lessons, earn coins and explore new worlds. We’re here to help if they get stuck.