What your child learns in English at primary school

English in primary school
Here’s your guide to what your child will learn in English – reading, writing, and speaking and listening – from EYFS (Nursery & Reception), through Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) to the end of Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6).
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It’s amazing how far your child will advance in literacy during their years at primary school. Their journey will take them from their first attempt to recite the alphabet all the way through to using complex grammatical forms in long pieces of writing. Your support on this journey is going to be vital to help your child grasp all the core areas of literacy learning they need to master as well as to inspire a love of reading that hopefully will last them a lifetime!

Read on to find out what your child learns in each Key Stage, and how to find resources on TheSchoolRun to support learning at home.

English in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the programme that must be followed in all childcare settings from birth to five years, so for schools this means nursery and Reception.

Communication, language and literacy

This is the first stage in your child learning to read and write. At this stage the children will be working on simple phonics. Your school will probably have a reading scheme, so your child will be bringing books home to read, and moving through the reading levels as they progress. They will be reading at school with the teacher and in small groups with children of a similar level, known as ‘guided reading’.

With writing, children will start drawing vertical lines and anti-clockwise circles, and move on to forming letters. Speaking and listening is also part of literacy, so your child will be listening to stories and joining in with songs and rhymes. Your child will learn to:

  • name and sound the letters of the alphabet
  • recognise groups of letters
  • hear and say sounds in words
  • recognise common and familiar words
  • understand a story has a beginning, middle and end
  • hold a pencil correctly
  • form letters
  • write their name
  • write simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words
  • begin to write simple sentences
  • use basic punctuation

Find out more about what your child learns in Reception English, and get ideas to help support their learning at home.

Free EYFS / Reception English worksheets to download


Browse our EYFS handwriting worksheets

Browse all EYFS English worksheets

English in Key Stage 1

During KS1 the literacy material your child will be using may include:

Reading in KS1

Your school will probably have a reading scheme that your child will follow and they will bring books home to read. At school they will read with their teacher, or in small groups (guided reading).
Your child will learn:

Free worksheets to support KS1 reading


Writing in KS1

Children will create their own versions of familiar stories as well as pieces of non-fiction. By the end of KS1 they will be planning their work and writing longer pieces with a beginning, middle and end. As part of their handwriting development your child will learn to:

  • hold a pencil correctly
  • form upper and lower case letters correctly
  • join letters (cursive handwriting)
  • use capital letters, full stops and question marks
  • begin to use commas
  • write familiar words correctly and attempt new words

Free worksheets to support KS1 writing


Browse all KS1 handwriting worksheets

Speaking and listening in KS1

This will include telling stories and reading aloud. As the children progress, they will put on short performances and speak in front of an audience.
Your child will learn to:

  • speak clearly
  • listen carefully to others
  • join in class discussions
  • take part in drama activities

Free worksheets to support KS1 speaking and listening


Browse all KS1 English worksheets

Find out more about Year 1 English and how your child will be taught, and get ideas to help support your child's Year 2 English learning at home.

English in Key Stage 2

English is still a daily lesson in KS2, and is made up of:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening

Topics the children may cover during this Key Stage include:

Browse all KS2 English worksheets

Find more information about Y3 English, including tips to help you help your child with homework at home. We also have resources and advice for Y4 English, Y5 English and SATs-preparation advice and support for Y6 English pupils.

Reading in KS2

Throughout KS2 the children move from decoding words to interpretation. At the start of Year 3 most children are reading around 300 of the most frequent words; by the end of Year 6, most are confident, fluent readers. Your child will learn to:

  • Read new words independently
  • Understand themes, plots and ideas
  • Recognise the use of figurative language
  • Identify how a text has been structured
  • Compare different writing styles
  • Find information in a piece of non-fiction

Free worksheets to support KS2 reading


Writing in KS2

Writing develops through KS2: handwriting becomes clearer and neater, spelling is more accurate, and punctuation is used correctly. The children write longer pieces now, using characters, dialogue and more imaginative vocabulary. They are also taught lots of grammar and grammatical terminology. What your child will learn about:

Free worksheets to support KS2 writing


Speaking and listening in KS2

Children take part in class discussions and develop more confidence with drama and role-play. What your child will learn:

  • Performance skills
  • Improvisation
  • Speaking to an audience

Free worksheets to support KS2 speaking and listening