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National Curriculum Primary Keystage 2 Year 4 English

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Spoken language

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

These statements apply to all years. The content should be taught at a level appropriate to the age of the pupils. Pupils should build on the oral language skills that have been taught in preceding years.

Pupils should be taught to develop their competence in spoken language and listening to enhance the effectiveness with which they are able to communicate across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. They should therefore have opportunities to work in groups of different sizes – in pairs, small groups, large groups and as a whole class. Pupils should understand how to take turns and when and how to participate constructively in conversations and debates.

Attention should also be paid to increasing pupils’ vocabulary, ranging from describing their immediate world and feelings to developing a broader, deeper and richer vocabulary to discuss abstract concepts and a wider range of topics, and to enhancing their knowledge about language as a whole.

Pupils should receive constructive feedback on their spoken language and listening, not only to improve their knowledge and skills but also to establish secure foundations for effective spoken language in their studies at primary school, helping them to achieve in secondary education and beyond.

Reading – word reading

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • apply their growing knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes (etymology and morphology) as listed inEnglish Appendix 1, both to read aloud and to understand the meaning of new words they meet
  • read further exception words, noting the unusual correspondences between spelling and sound, and where these occur in the word.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

At this stage, teaching comprehension should be taking precedence over teaching word reading directly. Any focus on word reading should support the development of vocabulary.

When pupils are taught to read longer words, they should be supported to test out different pronunciations. They will attempt to match what they decode to words they may have already heard but may not have seen in print [for example, in reading ‘technical, the pronunciation /tɛtʃnɪkəl/ (‘tetchnical’) might not sound familiar, but /tɛknɪkəl/ (‘teknical’) should].

Reading – comprehension

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • develop positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read by:
  • listening to and discussing a wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books or textbooks
  • reading books that are structured in different ways and reading for a range of purposes
  • using dictionaries to check the meaning of words that they have read
  • increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including fairy stories, myths and legends, and retelling some of these orally
  • identifying themes and conventions in a wide range of books
  • preparing poems and play scripts to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone, volume and action
  • discussing words and phrases that capture the reader’s interest and imagination
  • recognising some different forms of poetry [for example, free verse, narrative poetry]
  • understand what they read, in books they can read independently, by:
  • checking that the text makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and explaining the meaning of words in context
  • asking questions to improve their understanding of a text
  • drawing inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions, and justifying inferences with evidence
  • predicting what might happen from details stated and implied
  • identifying main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph and summarising these
  • identifying how language, structure, and presentation contribute to meaning
  • retrieve and record information from non-fiction
  • participate in discussion about both books that are read to them and those they can read for themselves, taking turns and listening to what others say.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

The focus should continue to be on pupils’ comprehension as a primary element in reading. The knowledge and skills that pupils need in order to comprehend are very similar at different ages. This is why the programmes of study for comprehension in years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6 are similar: the complexity of the writing increases the level of challenge.

Pupils should be taught to recognise themes in what they read, such as the triumph of good over evil or the use of magical devices in fairy stories and folk tales.

They should also learn the conventions of different types of writing (for example, the greeting in letters, a diary written in the first person or the use of presentational devices such as numbering and headings in instructions).

Pupils should be taught to use the skills they have learnt earlier and continue to apply these skills to read for different reasons, including for pleasure, or to find out information and the meaning of new words.

Pupils should continue to have opportunities to listen frequently to stories, poems, non-fiction and other writing, including whole books and not just extracts, so that they build on what was taught previously. In this way, they also meet books and authors that they might not choose themselves. Pupils should also have opportunities to exercise choice in selecting books and be taught how to do so, with teachers making use of any library services and expertise to support this.

Reading, re-reading, and rehearsing poems and plays for presentation and performance give pupils opportunities to discuss language, including vocabulary, extending their interest in the meaning and origin of words. Pupils should be encouraged to use drama approaches to understand how to perform plays and poems to support their understanding of the meaning. These activities also provide them with an incentive to find out what expression is required, so feeding into comprehension.

In using non-fiction, pupils should know what information they need to look for before they begin and be clear about the task. They should be shown how to use contents pages and indexes to locate information.

Pupils should have guidance about the kinds of explanations and questions that are expected from them. They should help to develop, agree on, and evaluate rules for effective discussion. The expectation should be that all pupils take part.

Writing – transcription

Statutory requirements

Spelling (seeEnglish Appendix 1)

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use further prefixes and suffixes and understand how to add them (English Appendix 1)
  • spell further homophones
  • spell words that are often misspelt (English Appendix 1)
  • place the possessive apostrophe accurately in words with regular plurals [for example, girls’, boys’] and in words with irregular plurals [for example, children’s]
  • use the first two or three letters of a word to check its spelling in a dictionary
  • write from memory simple sentences, dictated by the teacher, that include words and punctuation taught so far.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should learn to spell new words correctly and have plenty of practice in spelling them.

As in years 1 and 2, pupils should continue to be supported in understanding and applying the concepts of word structure (seeEnglish Appendix 2).

Pupils need sufficient knowledge of spelling in order to use dictionaries efficiently.

Statutory requirements

Handwriting

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use the diagonal and horizontal strokes that are needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined
  • increase the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting [for example, by ensuring that the downstrokes of letters are parallel and equidistant; that lines of writing are spaced sufficiently so that the ascenders and descenders of letters do not touch].

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should be using joined handwriting throughout their independent writing. Handwriting should continue to be taught, with the aim of increasing the fluency with which pupils are able to write down what they want to say. This, in turn, will support their composition and spelling.

Writing – composition

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • plan their writing by:
  • discussing writing similar to that which they are planning to write in order to understand and learn from its structure, vocabulary and grammar
  • discussing and recording ideas
  • draft and write by:
  • composing and rehearsing sentences orally (including dialogue), progressively building a varied and rich vocabulary and an increasing range of sentence structures (English Appendix 2)
  • organising paragraphs around a theme
  • in narratives, creating settings, characters and plot
  • in non-narrative material, using simple organisational devices [for example, headings and sub-headings]
  • evaluate and edit by:
  • assessing the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing and suggesting improvements
  • proposing changes to grammar and vocabulary to improve consistency, including the accurate use of pronouns in sentences
  • proof-read for spelling and punctuation errors
  • read aloud their own writing, to a group or the whole class, using appropriate intonation and controlling the tone and volume so that the meaning is clear.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should continue to have opportunities to write for a range of real purposes and audiences as part of their work across the curriculum. These purposes and audiences should underpin the decisions about the form the writing should take, such as a narrative, an explanation or a description.

Pupils should understand, through being shown these, the skills and processes that are essential for writing: that is, thinking aloud to explore and collect ideas, drafting, and rereading to check their meaning is clear, including doing so as the writing develops. Pupils should be taught to monitor whether their own writing makes sense in the same way that they monitor their reading, checking at different levels.

Writing – vocabulary, grammar and punctuation

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • extending the range of sentences with more than one clause by using a wider range of conjunctions, including when, if, because, although
  • using the present perfect form of verbs in contrast to the past tense
  • choosing nouns or pronouns appropriately for clarity and cohesion and to avoid repetition
  • using conjunctions, adverbs and prepositions to express time and cause
  • using fronted adverbials
  • learning the grammar for years 3 and 4 in English Appendix 2
  • indicate grammatical and other features by:
  • using commas after fronted adverbials
  • indicating possession by using the possessive apostrophe with plural nouns
  • using and punctuating direct speech
  • use and understand the grammatical terminology in English Appendix 2 accurately and appropriately when discussing their writing and reading.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Grammar should be taught explicitly: pupils should be taught the terminology and concepts set out in English Appendix 2, and be able to apply them correctly to examples of real language, such as their own writing or books that they have read.

At this stage, pupils should start to learn about some of the differences between Standard English and non-Standard English and begin to apply what they have learnt [for example, in writing dialogue for characters].