English Curriculum

Year 1 - English Curriculum


During year 1, teachers should build on work from the Early Years 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 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.

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 their school’s 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.

Year 1 programme of study

Reading – word reading

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words
  • respond speedily with the correct sound to graphemes (letters or groups of letters) for all 40+ phonemes, including, where applicable, alternative sounds for graphemes
  • read accurately by blending sounds in unfamiliar words containing GPCs that have been taught
  • read common exception words, noting unusual correspondences between spelling and sound and where these occur in the word
  • read words containing taught GPCs and –s, –es, –ing, –ed, –er and –est endings
  • read other words of more than one syllable that contain taught GPCs
  • read words with contractions [for example, I’m, I’ll, we’ll], and understand that the apostrophe represents the omitted letter(s)
  • read aloud accurately books that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and that do not require them to use other strategies to work out words
  • re-read these books to build up their fluency and confidence in word reading.

Reading – comprehension

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding by:
  • listening to and discussing a wide range of poems, stories and non-fiction at a level beyond that at which they can read independently
  • being encouraged to link what they read or hear read to their own experiences
  • becoming very familiar with key stories, fairy stories and traditional tales, retelling them and considering their particular characteristics
  • recognising and joining in with predictable phrases
  • learning to appreciate rhymes and poems, and to recite some by heart
  • discussing word meanings, linking new meanings to those already known
  • understand both the books they can already read accurately and fluently and those they listen to by:
  • drawing on what they already know or on background information and vocabulary provided by the teacher
  • checking that the text makes sense to them as they read and correcting inaccurate reading
  • discussing the significance of the title and events
  • making inferences on the basis of what is being said and done
  • predicting what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
  • participate in discussion about what is read to them, taking turns and listening to what others say
  • explain clearly their understanding of what is read to them.

Writing – transcription

Statutory requirements

Spelling (see English Appendix 1)

Pupils should be taught to spell:

  • words containing each of the 40+ phonemes already taught
  • common exception words
  • the days of the week
  • name the letters of the alphabet:
  • naming the letters of the alphabet in order
  • using letter names to distinguish between alternative spellings of the same sound
  • add prefixes and suffixes:
  • using the spelling rule for adding s or es as the plural marker for nouns and the third person singular marker for verbs
  • using the prefix un
  • using ing,ed,er and est where no change is needed in the spelling of root words [for example, helping, helped, helper, eating, quicker, quickest]
  • apply simple spelling rules and guidance, as listed in English Appendix 1
  • write from memory simple sentences dictated by the teacher that include words using the GPCs and common exception words taught so far.

Writing – composition

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to write sentences by:

  • saying out loud what they are going to write about
  • composing a sentence orally before writing it
  • sequencing sentences to form short narratives
  • re-reading what they have written to check that it makes sense
  • discuss what they have written with the teacher or other pupils
  • read aloud their writing clearly enough to be heard by their peers and the teacher.


  • Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

At the beginning of year 1, not all pupils will have the spelling and handwriting skills they need to write down everything that they can compose out loud.

Pupils should understand, through demonstration, the skills and processes essential to writing: that is, thinking aloud as they collect ideas, drafting, and re-reading to check their meaning is clear.

Writing – vocabulary, grammar and punctuation

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

§ develop their understanding of the concepts set out in English Appendix 2 by:

§ leaving spaces between words

§ joining words and joining clauses using and

§ beginning to punctuate sentences using a capital letter and a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark

§ using a capital letter for names of people, places, the days of the week, and the personal pronoun ‘I’

§ learning the grammar for year 1 in English Appendix 2

§ use the grammatical terminology in English Appendix 2 in discussing their writing.

Year 2 English Curriculum

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 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. Pupils’ reading of common exception words [for example, 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 English 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.

Year 2 programme of study

Reading – word reading

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • continue to apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words until automatic decoding has become embedded and reading is fluent
  • read accurately by blending the sounds in words that contain the graphemes taught so far, especially recognising alternative sounds for graphemes
  • read accurately words of two or more syllables that contain the same graphemes as above
  • read words containing common suffixes
  • read further common exception words, noting unusual correspondences between spelling and sound and where these occur in the word
  • read most words quickly and accurately, without overt sounding and blending, when they have been frequently encountered
  • read aloud books closely matched to their improving phonic knowledge, sounding out unfamiliar words accurately, automatically and without undue hesitation
  • re-read these books to build up their fluency and confidence in word reading.

Reading – comprehension

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding by:
  • listening to, discussing and expressing views about a wide range of contemporary and classic poetry, stories and non-fiction at a level beyond that at which they can read independently
  • discussing the sequence of events in books and how items of information are related
  • becoming increasingly familiar with and retelling a wider range of stories, fairy stories and traditional tales
  • being introduced to non-fiction books that are structured in different ways
  • recognising simple recurring literary language in stories and poetry
  • § discussing and clarifying the meanings of words, linking new meanings to known vocabulary
  • § discussing their favourite words and phrases
  • § continuing to build up a repertoire of poems learnt by heart, appreciating these and reciting some, with appropriate intonation to make the meaning clear
  • § understand both the books that they can already read accurately and fluently and those that they listen to by:
  • § drawing on what they already know or on background information and vocabulary provided by the teacher
  • § checking that the text makes sense to them as they read and correcting inaccurate reading
  • § making inferences on the basis of what is being said and done
  • § answering and asking questions
  • § predicting what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
  • § participate in discussion about books, poems and other works that are read to them and those that they can read for themselves, taking turns and listening to what others say
  • § explain and discuss their understanding of books, poems and other material, both those that they listen to and those that they read for themselves.


Writing – transcription

Statutory requirements

Spelling (see English Appendix 1)

Pupils should be taught to:

§ spell by:

§ segmenting spoken words into phonemes and representing these by graphemes, spelling many correctly

§ learning new ways of spelling phonemes for which one or more spellings are already known, and learn some words with each spelling, including a few common homophones

§ learning to spell common exception words

§ learning to spell more words with contracted forms

§ learning the possessive apostrophe (singular) [for example, the girl’s book]

§ distinguishing between homophones and near-homophones

§ add suffixes to spell longer words, including ment,ness,ful, less, –ly

§ apply spelling rules and guidance, as listed in English Appendix 1

§ write from memory simple sentences dictated by the teacher that include words using the GPCs, common exception words and punctuation taught so far.

Statutory requirements

Handwriting

Pupils should be taught to:

§ form lower-case letters of the correct size relative to one another

§ start using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined

§ write capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another and to lower case letters

§ use spacing between words that reflects the size of the letters.


Writing – composition

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

§ develop positive attitudes towards and stamina for writing by:

§ writing narratives about personal experiences and those of others (real and fictional)

§ writing about real events

§ writing poetry

§ writing for different purposes

§ consider what they are going to write before beginning by:

§ planning or saying out loud what they are going to write about

§ writing down ideas and/or key words, including new vocabulary

§ encapsulating what they want to say, sentence by sentence

§ make simple additions, revisions and corrections to their own writing by:

§ evaluating their writing with the teacher and other pupils

§ re-reading to check that their writing makes sense and that verbs to indicate time are used correctly and consistently, including verbs in the continuous form

§ proof-reading to check for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation [for example, ends of sentences punctuated correctly]

§ read aloud what they have written with appropriate intonation to make the meaning clear.


Writing – vocabulary, grammar and punctuation

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

§ develop their understanding of the concepts set out in English Appendix 2 by:

§ learning how to use both familiar and new punctuation correctly (see English Appendix 2), including full stops, capital letters, exclamation marks, question marks, commas for lists and apostrophes for contracted forms and the possessive (singular)

§ learn how to use:

§ sentences with different forms: statement, question, exclamation, command

§ expanded noun phrases to describe and specify [for example, the blue butterfly]

§ the present and past tenses correctly and consistently including the progressive form

§ subordination (using when, if, that, or because) and co-ordination (using or, and, or but)

§ the grammar for year 2 in English Appendix 2

§ some features of written Standard English

§ use and understand the grammatical terminology in English Appendix 2 in discussing their writing.​