Lower Key Stage 2: Years 3-4
By the beginning of Year 3, pupils should be able to read books written at an age- appropriate interest level. They should be able to read them accurately and at a speed that is sufficient for them to focus on understanding what they read rather than on decoding individual words. They should be able to decode most new words outside their spoken vocabulary, making a good approximation to the word’s pronunciation. As their decoding skills become increasingly secure, teaching should be directed more towards developing the breadth and depth of their reading, making sure that they become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently. They should be developing their understanding and enjoyment of stories, poetry, plays and non-fiction, and learning to read silently. They should also be developing their knowledge and skills in reading non-fiction about a wide range of subjects. They should be learning to justify their views about what they have read: with support at the start of Year 3 and increasingly independently by the end of Year 4.
Pupils should be able to write down their ideas with a reasonable degree of accuracy and with good sentence punctuation. Teachers should therefore be consolidating pupils’ writing skills, their grasp of sentence structure and their knowledge of linguistic terminology. Teaching them to develop as writers involves increasing their competence as well as teaching them to enhance the effectiveness of what they write. Teachers should make sure that pupils build on what they have learnt, particularly in terms of the range of their writing and the more varied grammar from which they can draw to express their ideas. Pupils should be beginning to understand how writing can be different from speech. Joined handwriting should be the norm; pupils should be able to use it fast enough to keep pace with what they want to say.
Pupils’ spelling of common words should be correct, including exception words and other words that they have learnt (see Appendix 1). Pupils should spell words as accurately as possible using their phonic knowledge and other knowledge of spelling, such as morphology and etymology.
Most pupils will not need further direct teaching of word reading skills: they are able to decode unfamiliar words accurately, and need very few repeated experiences of this before the word is stored in such a way that they can read it without overt sound- blending.
As in Key Stage 1, however, pupils who are still struggling to decode need to be taught to do this urgently through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly with their peers. If they cannot decode independently and fluently, they will find it increasingly difficult to understand what they read and to write down what they want to say. As far as possible, however, they should follow the Year 3 and 4 programme of study in terms of listening to new books, hearing and learning new vocabulary and grammatical structures, and discussing these.
Specific requirements for pupils to discuss what they are learning and to develop their wider skills in spoken language form part of this programme of study. In Years 3 and 4, pupils should become more familiar with and confident in using language in a greater variety of situations, for a variety of audiences and purposes, including through drama, formal presentations and debate.
Upper Key Stage 2: Years 5-6
By the beginning of Year 5, pupils should be able to read aloud a wider range of poetry and books written at an age-appropriate interest level with accuracy and at a reasonable speaking pace. They should be able to read most words effortlessly and to work out how to pronounce unfamiliar written words with increasing automaticity. If the pronunciation sounds unfamiliar, they should ask for help in determining both the meaning of the word and how to pronounce it correctly. They should be able to prepare readings, with appropriate intonation to show their understanding, and should be able to summarise and present a familiar story in their own words. They should be reading widely and frequently, outside as well as in school, for pleasure and information. They should be able to read silently, and then discuss what they have read.
Pupils should be able to write down their ideas quickly. Their grammar and punctuation should be broadly accurate. Pupils’ spelling of most words taught so far should be accurate and they should be able to spell words that they have not yet been taught by using what they have learnt about how spelling works in English.
During Years 5 and 6, teachers should continue to emphasise pupils’ enjoyment and understanding of language, especially vocabulary, to support their reading and writing. Pupils’ knowledge of language, gained from stories, plays, poetry, non-fiction and textbooks, will support their increasing fluency as readers, their facility as writers, and their comprehension. As in Years 3 and 4, pupils should be taught to enhance the effectiveness of their writing as well as their competence.
It is essential that pupils whose decoding skills are poor are taught through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly with their peers in terms of their decoding and spelling. However, as far as possible, these pupils should follow the Year 5 and 6 programme of study in terms of listening to books and other writing that they have not come across before, hearing and learning new vocabulary and grammatical structures, and having a chance to talk about all of these.
By the end of Year 6, pupils’ reading and writing should be sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to manage the general demands of the curriculum in Year 7, across subjects and not just in English, but there will continue to be a need for pupils to learn subject-specific vocabulary. They should be able to reflect their understanding of the audience for and purpose of their writing by selecting appropriate vocabulary and grammar. Teachers should prepare pupils for secondary education by ensuring that they can consciously control the structure of sentences in their writing and understand why sentences are constructed as they are. This involves consolidation, practice and discussion of language.
Specific requirements for pupils to discuss what they are learning and to develop their wider skills in spoken language form part of this programme of study. In Years 5 and 6, pupils’ confidence, enjoyment and mastery of language should be extended through public speaking, performance and debate.