Key Stage 1 English

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English is taught from the start of school life. Key Stage 1 (KS1) consists of Years 1 and 2. 

English is a core subject that is taught all the way through a child’s school life. The only time taking English as a subject is a choice is at A-Level.

colour letters

The National Curriculum states the aim of teaching English are for students to:

  1. read easily, fluently and with good understanding and develop the habit of reading for pleasure and information
  2. acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language and to appreciate our literary heritage
  3. write clearly, accurately and coherently, in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  4. use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  5. become competent in speaking and listening, making formal presentations and participating in debate

In Key Stage 1 English there are 3 strands:

  • Speaking and listening
  • Reading
  • Writing


Year 1

The transition from reception to year 1 is a big change for children. They will go from mostly learning through play to a more formal way of learning where reading, writing and listening skills are developed.

In Year 1 children the focus is on phonics. Children are taught to read, write and spell phonetically.

Children will be taught phonemes and graphemes.


Phonemes and graphemes

Phonemes are the sounds that are used to teach children to spell. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in the English language.

There are approximately 44 phonemes.

Graphemes are the symbols that represent sound. They can be a single letter (the s in sat) or a sequence of letters (the ‘th’ in that).


Why are phonemes and graphemes important?

Phonemes play a key part in children learning to read. Once a child knows the sounds, those sounds are then blended to create words. 

This full list of phonemes is split into 5 sets. Usually, children learn set 5 in year 1.

Here is a list of the phonemes used and the order in which they are introduced to children for you to practise with your child.

Spellings in year 1


For further information, please refer to the Primary National Curriculum document.

Letters and Sounds (phonics programme): Click here


Key Words for Year 1 English:


Capital letter






Full stop

Question mark

Exclamation mark


Year 2

In year 2 children are taught to read in greater depth.  Children are taught to read bigger words (more than 2 syllables) and will learn how to use apostrophes and conjunctions.

Given that children usually take their KS1 SATS exam at the end of year 2, this is a challenging year for many children.


Speaking and Listening

Children will become more familiar with a variety of situations through their reading. They will be asked, for example, 

  • to predict what happens next
  • Be able to listen to a greater variety of texts
  • Start to recognise and predict word patterns
  • Be able to use words in context and discuss their meaning
  • Be able to speak according to the character they may be role playing
  • Be able to make links with the story and their experiences

Child reading


Reading is not just about the child being able to read the words on the page but also understand the words and the context of the texts (comprehensions).

The major skills children pick up at this stage is having the confidence to read words and eventually whole texts. They will begin to understand what they read and eventually start to enjoy what they are reading. 

Children will learn to read through carefully structured activities using a wide range of books and materials.

Child writing


In Year 2 there is a greater focus on handwriting, with children encouraged to form their letters correctly. Children are taught joined handwriting from the start. They will learn which letters are to be joined and learn to make letters a consistent size as well as consistent finger spacing.

Children will learn to write for a range of purposes including stories, poetry and real events. It is important that children start to write as this helps them process their ideas and brings together all of the above.

Here are some ideas for you to use for writing when working with your child.


Here are some ideas for writing:

  • Instructions
    • How to make a jam sandwich
    • How to build a snowman
  • Writing a fictional story
    • The silly cat 
    • The lonely train
  • Information page
    • About my toys
    • About my school
  • Information texts
    • All about Florence Nightingale
    • All about lions
  • Chronological/non-chronological texts
    • Diary entries
  • Retelling a fable
    • The lion and the mouse
    • The hare and the tortoise

Building Snowman


Spellings in year 2


Children will be taught:

  • capital letter 
  • full stop 
  • question mark 
  • exclamation mark 
  • Apostrophes (for contraction and for possession)




Types of words:

Reinforce words from Year 1:

  • noun 
  • adjective 
  • adverb 
  • past tense 
  • present tense 
  • statement 
  • question 
  • exclamation
  • command

Additional year 2 words:

  • suffix 
  • subordination
  • noun phrase 
  • expanded noun phrase 
  • compound sentence 



All children take a SATS exam in May of when they are in Year 2. The KS1 SATS exams consist of 

  • Mathematics
    • (2 papers, 60 marks, 55 minutes)
  • English 
    • (2 papers, 40 marks, 70 minutes)
  • English GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling) 
    • (2 papers, 40 marks, 35 minutes)
  • In English SATS papers, children are tested for the following skills:
  • Draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts. 
  • Identify/explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts, such as characters, events, titles and information. 
  • Identify and explain the sequence of events in texts. 
  • Make inferences from the text. 
  • Predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far.


How can I help my child at home?

This is the perfect time to set good learning habits in children. For English, reading is key. 

  • Read with your child every night- it does not need to be a lot- just 10 to 15 minutes every night is enough to set them on the path of enjoying reading. 
  • Speak with your child constantly- in the supermarket, in the kitchen, or anywhere where it is suitable and appropriate. This ensures language development, making confident listeners and speakers.
  • Many children struggle to write properly at this age, so ‘mark making’ is crucial. Let your child explore colours and textures on paper. The more they ‘scribble’ the more confident they will become with their writing skills.
  • For those children who are able to write, there are some ideas on this page to help you.
  • Play games with your child. Boggle is especially good for children at any age. 


To help support your child’s learning, we have compiled a list of books that we think your child will enjoy.

Alternatively, check out The Book Trust for further suggestions.

  • Stories with predictable phrasing 
  • Stories with familiar settings
  • Traditional Tales 
  • Modern fiction
  • Recount Poetry 
  • Reports 
  • Instructions 
  • Explanations


How can Redbridge Tuition help?

Redbridge Tuition can help Year 1 and Year 2 children with English in a number of ways. Our experienced and qualified tutors can provide children with one-to-one or small group tuition in a supportive and nurturing environment. We can help children to improve their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

We use a variety of teaching methods to cater to the individual needs of each child. We also work closely with parents to ensure that the tuition is aligned with the child’s school curriculum.

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