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National Curriculum Primary Keystage 2 Year 6 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 (morphology and etymology), as listed inEnglish Appendix 1, both to read aloud and to understand the meaning of new words that they meet.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

At this stage, there should be no need for further direct teaching of word reading skills for almost all pupils. If pupils are struggling or failing in this, the reasons for this should be investigated. It is imperative that pupils are taught to read during their last two years at primary school if they enter year 5 not being able to do so.

Pupils should be encouraged to work out any unfamiliar word. They should focus on all the letters in a word so that they do not, for example, read ‘invitation’ for ‘imitation’ simply because they might be more familiar with the first word. Accurate reading of individual words, which might be key to the meaning of a sentence or paragraph, improves comprehension.

When teachers are reading with or to pupils, attention should be paid to new vocabulary – both a word’s meaning(s) and its correct pronunciation.

Reading – comprehension

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • maintain positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read by:
  • continuing to read and discuss an increasingly 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
  • increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions
  • recommending books that they have read to their peers, giving reasons for their choices
  • identifying and discussing themes and conventions in and across a wide range of writing
  • making comparisons within and across books
  • learning a wider range of poetry by heart
  • preparing poems and plays to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone and volume so that the meaning is clear to an audience
  • understand what they read by:
  • checking that the book makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and exploring the meaning of words in context
  • asking questions to improve their understanding
  • 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
  • summarising the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details that support the main ideas
  • identifying how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
  • discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader
  • distinguish between statements of fact and opinion
  • retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction
  • participate in discussions about books that are read to them and those they can read for themselves, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously
  • explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read, including through formal presentations and debates, maintaining a focus on the topic and using notes where necessary
  • provide reasoned justifications for their views.


Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Even though pupils can now read independently, reading aloud to them should include whole books so that they meet books and authors that they might not choose to read themselves.

The knowledge and skills that pupils need in order to comprehend are very similar at different ages. Pupils should continue to apply what they have already learnt to more complex writing.

Pupils should be taught to recognise themes in what they read, such as loss or heroism. They should have opportunities to compare characters, consider different accounts of the same event and discuss viewpoints (both of authors and of fictional characters), within a text and across more than one text.

They should continue to learn the conventions of different types of writing, such as the use of the first person in writing diaries and autobiographies.

Pupils should be taught the technical and other terms needed for discussing what they hear and read, such as metaphor, simile, analogy, imagery, style and effect.

In using reference books, pupils need to know what information they need to look for before they begin and need to understand the task. They should be shown how to use contents pages and indexes to locate information.

The skills of information retrieval that are taught should be applied, for example, in reading history, geography and science textbooks, and in contexts where pupils are genuinely motivated to find out information, for example, reading information leaflets before a gallery or museum visit or reading a theatre programme or review. Teachers should consider making use of any library services and expertise to support this.

Pupils should have guidance about and feedback on the quality of their explanations and contributions to discussions.

Pupils should be shown how to compare characters, settings, themes and other aspects of what they read.

Writing – transcription

Statutory requirements

Spelling (seeEnglish Appendix 1)

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use further prefixes and suffixes and understand the guidance for adding them
  • spell some words with ‘silent’ letters [for example, knight, psalm, solemn]
  • continue to distinguish between homophones and other words which are often confused
  • use knowledge of morphology and etymology in spelling and understand that the spelling of some words needs to be learnt specifically, as listed in English Appendix 1
  • use dictionaries to check the spelling and meaning of words
  • use the first three or four letters of a word to check spelling, meaning or both of these in a dictionary
  • use a thesaurus.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

As in earlier years, pupils should continue to be taught to understand and apply the concepts of word structure so that they can draw on their knowledge of morphology and etymology to spell correctly.

Statutory requirements

Handwriting and presentation

Pupils should be taught to:

  • write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed by:
  • choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters
  • choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should continue to practise handwriting and be encouraged to increase the speed of it, so that problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say. They should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes or a final handwritten version. They should also be taught to use an unjoined style, for example, for labelling a diagram or data, writing an email address, or for algebra and capital letters, for example, for filling in a form.

Writing – composition

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • plan their writing by:
  • identifying the audience for and purpose of the writing, selecting the appropriate form and using other similar writing as models for their own
  • noting and developing initial ideas, drawing on reading and research where necessary
  • in writing narratives, considering how authors have developed characters and settings in what pupils have read, listened to or seen performed
  • draft and write by:
  • selecting appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning
  • in narratives, describing settings, characters and atmosphere and integrating dialogue to convey character and advance the action
  • précising longer passages
  • using a wide range of devices to build cohesion within and across paragraphs
  • using further organisational and presentational devices to structure text and to guide the reader [for example, headings, bullet points, underlining]
  • evaluate and edit by:
  • assessing the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing
  • proposing changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects and clarify meaning
  • ensuring the consistent and correct use of tense throughout a piece of writing
  • ensuring correct subject and verb agreement when using singular and plural, distinguishing between the language of speech and writing and choosing the appropriate register
  • proof-read for spelling and punctuation errors
  • perform their own compositions, using appropriate intonation, volume, and movement so that meaning is clear.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should understand, through being shown, the skills and processes essential for writing: that is, thinking aloud to generate ideas, drafting, and re-reading to check that the meaning is clear.

Writing – vocabulary, grammar and punctuation

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • recognising vocabulary and structures that are appropriate for formal speech and writing, including subjunctive forms
  • using passive verbs to affect the presentation of information in a sentence
  • using the perfect form of verbs to mark relationships of time and cause
  • using expanded noun phrases to convey complicated information concisely
  • using modal verbs or adverbs to indicate degrees of possibility
  • using relative clauses beginning with who, which, where, when, whose, that or with an implied (i.e. omitted) relative pronoun
  • learning the grammar for years 5 and 6 in English Appendix 2
  • indicate grammatical and other features by:
  • using commas to clarify meaning or avoid ambiguity in writing
  • using hyphens to avoid ambiguity
  • using brackets, dashes or commas to indicate parenthesis
  • using semi-colons, colons or dashes to mark boundaries between independent clauses
  • using a colon to introduce a list
  • punctuating bullet points consistently
  • use and understand the grammatical terminology in English Appendix 2 accurately and appropriately in discussing their writing and reading.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Pupils should continue to add to their knowledge of linguistic terms, including those to describe grammar, so that they can discuss their writing and reading.