Skip to main content

English Aims

The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding.
  • Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage.
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
  • Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
  • Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.


Year 1

During Year 1 teachers should build on work from the Foundation Stage, making sure that pupils 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 pupils 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. The term ‘common exception words’ is used throughout the programmes of study for such words.

Alongside this knowledge of GPCs, pupils 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 practising their reading with books consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and skill. 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.

Pupils should 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.
Pupils’ 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.

Pupils entering Year 1 who have not yet met the early learning goals for literacy should continue to follow the curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage to develop their word reading, spelling and language skills. However, these pupils 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.

Teachers should ensure that their teaching develops pupils’ oral vocabulary as well as their ability to understand and use a variety of grammatical structures, giving particular support to pupils whose oral language skills are insufficiently developed.
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.


Year 2

By the beginning of Year 2, pupils should be able to read all common graphemes. They should 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 pupil’s level of word reading. They should also be able to read many common words containing GPCs taught so far, such as shout, hand, stop, or dream, without needing to blend the sounds out loud first. Pupils’ reading of common exception words, such as you, could, many, or people, should be secure. Pupils will increase their fluency by being able to read these words easily and automatically. Finally, pupils 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 should continue to focus on establishing pupils’ accurate and speedy word reading skills. They should also make sure that pupils listen to and discuss a wide range of stories, poems, plays and information books; this should include whole books. The sooner that pupils 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, pupils at the beginning of Year 2 should be able to compose individual sentences orally and then write them down. They should be able to spell correctly many of the words covered in Year 1 (see Appendix 1). 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 pupils 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. Pupils’ 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: pupils 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.

For pupils who do not have the phonic knowledge and skills they need for Year 2, teachers should use the Year 1 programmes of study for word reading and spelling so that pupils’ word reading skills catch up. However, teachers should use the Year 2 programme of study for comprehension so that these pupils hear and talk about new books, poems, other writing, and vocabulary with the rest of the class.

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.

Please use the link below to find more indepth information about English at Key Stage 1

https://www.gov.uk