Students enter Key Stage 1 in Year 1, at the start of the academic year during which they will be six years old. During Year 2 students will be seven years old.
In Key Stage 1 students will begin to acquire and develop reading, writing and numeracy skills in addition to experiencing all the subjects that are described under the Curriculum and Learning programme. The students enjoy a variety of physical and musical activities.
The Key Stage 1 curriculum is delivered through a topic approach. Specific schemes of work outline the progressive skills that are taught at this age and all work is closely monitored to ensure that students are making progress matched to their abilities. In the case of students who display unusual talent or ability, extension material is given to motivate and challenge their intellectual growth.
During year 1, teachers build on work from the Early Years Foundation Stage, making sure that students can sound and blend unfamiliar printed words quickly and accurately using the phonic knowledge and skills that they have already learnt. Teachers should also ensure that students continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and revise and consolidate those learnt earlier. The understanding that the letter(s) on the page represent the sounds in spoken words should underpin pupils’ reading and spelling of all words. This includes common words containing unusual GPCs.
Alongside this knowledge of GPCs, students need to develop the skill of blending the sounds into words for reading and establish the habit of applying this skill whenever they encounter new words. This will be supported by practice in reading books consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and skill and their knowledge of common exception words. At the same time they will need to hear, share and discuss a wide range of high quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary.
Students will be helped to read words without overt sounding and blending after a few encounters. Those who are slow to develop this skill should have extra practice. Students’ writing during year 1 will generally develop at a slower pace than their reading. This is because they need to encode the sounds they hear in words (spelling skills), develop the physical skill needed for handwriting, and learn how to organise their ideas in writing. Students entering year 1 who have not yet met the early learning goals for literacy should continue to follow their school’s curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage to develop their word reading, spelling and language skills.
However, these students should follow the year 1 programme of study in terms of the books they listen to and discuss, so that they develop their vocabulary and understanding of grammar, as well as their knowledge more generally across the curriculum. If they are still struggling to decode and spell, they need to be taught to do this urgently through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly.
By the beginning of year 2, students must be able to read all common graphemes. They must be able to read unfamiliar words containing these graphemes, accurately and without undue hesitation, by sounding them out in books that are matched closely to each student’s level of word reading knowledge. They should also be able to read many common words containing GPCs taught so far [for example, shout, hand, stop, or dream], without needing to blend the sounds out loud first. Students’ reading of common exception words [for example, you, could, many, or people], should be secure. Students will increase their fluency by being able to read these words easily and automatically. Finally, students should be able to retell some familiar stories that have been read to and discussed with them or that they have acted out during year 1.
During year 2, teachers continue to focus on establishing students’ accurate and speedy word reading skills. They also make sure that students listen to and discuss a wide range of stories, poems, plays and information books; this should include whole books. The sooner that students can read well and do so frequently, the sooner they will be able to increase their vocabulary, comprehension and their knowledge across the wider curriculum. In writing, students at the beginning of year 2 should be able to compose individual sentences orally and then write them down.
They should also be able to make phonically plausible attempts to spell words they have not yet learnt. Finally, they should be able to form individual letters correctly, so establishing good handwriting habits from the beginning. It is important to recognise that students begin to meet extra challenges in terms of spelling during year 2. Increasingly, they should learn that there is not always an obvious connection between the way a word is said and the way it is spelt. Variations include different ways of spelling the same sound, the use of so-called silent letters and groups of letters in some words and, sometimes, spelling that has become separated from the way that words are now pronounced, such as the ‘le’ ending in table.
Students’ motor skills also need to be sufficiently advanced for them to write down ideas that they may be able to compose orally. In addition, writing is intrinsically harder than reading: students are likely to be able to read and understand more complex writing (in terms of its vocabulary and structure) than they are capable of producing themselves.
During these two years students are encouraged to learn both practically and academically. They enjoy a variety of experiences, visiting places of interest in the immediate locality, performing in dance, drama and music and engaging in extra-curricular activities.
The principal focus of mathematics teaching in key stage 1 is to ensure that students develop confidence and mental fluency with whole numbers, counting and place value. This should involve working with numerals, words and the four operations, including with practical resources [for example, concrete objects and measuring tools]. At this stage, students should develop their ability to recognise, describe, draw, compare and sort different shapes and use the related vocabulary. Teaching should also involve using a range of measures to describe and compare different quantities such as length, mass, capacity/volume, time and money. By the end of year 2, students should know the number bonds to 20 and be precise in using and understanding place value. An emphasis on practice at this early stage will aid fluency. Students should read and spell mathematical vocabulary, at a level consistent with their increasing word reading and spelling knowledge at key stage 1.