Primary Primary Literacy

How to get ahead of the new primary curriculum – Key Stage 1

Key Stage One cedes that some may need revision and reinforcement and the new curriculum allows for the technical aspects of the EYFS framework to be continued, where necessary and with appropriate support, for those not yet ready for KS1’s challenges. However, the curriculum insists that the reading recommendations for Key Stage One are held to in order to extend pupil’s vocabulary, give exposure to more advanced sentence structure and grammar as well as a wider range of texts.


Many schools now use the Collins Big Cat reading scheme which offers a structured and comprehensive, supported set of material to develop reading and comprehension skills but try to supplement it with other kinds of reading such as letters, instructions, road signs, food packaging and more.

The opportunity to read is all around us and pupils need practice in all kinds to prepare them for life. A fun homework is getting them to say what reading material they found in unusual locations such as the bathroom, the garage, in the park etc.

Comprehension is becoming increasingly important in Key Stage One and all reading gives opportunity for understanding; whether it’s following instructions or giving opinions on fiction, responding to texts, answering questions based on a passage or collecting relevant information for projects.

The importance of reading for understanding means you’ll have to take as many of the opportunities as possible.


There’s a period of consolidation allowed for at the start of each year and the emphasis now falls on encoding the word from its sound. Towards the end of the Key Stage, words which are difficult to encode phonetically are introduced and a variety of strategies will be needed; asking the pupil to highlight the anomaly in the words in a list helps. Sounding out the word phonetically, whilst incorrect, can help with spellings such as saying chic–ken or pe-o-ple.

Maintaining a word bank of new vocabulary from texts the pupil has read allows usage in their own compositions as well as a reference point for spelling at a later date. Link this with speaking and listening, asking the children to say and spell their new words to the class.

Speaking and Listening

In Key Stage One the emphasis is on greater understanding of oral instructions, giving them as well as acting upon them. Use children more to perform simple errands or passing on instructions to others.

Presentation work should be more common now, allowing children to read out their compositions and comment on others. The often maligned ‘News’ slot is a way of encouraging speaking and listening as well as strengthening bonds across the class when the news is of a personal nature.

Encourage speaking and listening in assemblies. Recite poems, perhaps taking an exam in speech and drama. Use end of term performances to encourage speaking and listening to the lines delivered by others for cues. If there aren’t enough parts, do a second or third night with different cast members.


It’s acknowledged that there’ll be a disparity between the language encountered in their reading and that used in their writing but by the end of Key Stage One the divergence should have narrowed.

Asking pupils to use more complex language and vocabulary in their work is often fruitless, especially in longer writing tasks. Help overcome this by keeping such writing to a minimum, focusing on content rather than quantity. Have a bank of words you’d like them to include or a ‘Word of the Day’ to be used somewhere during the day’s activities.
Write for different audiences but discuss the different vocabularies and styles used and why they are different. Write in the ‘wrong style’ and discuss the effect; e.g. a complaint letter written as instructions.

Dave Lewis
Primary teacher

Collins Primary

Collins Primary is the home of innovative learning resources for all stages of primary and early years education. We support thousands of teachers and pupils who are using our award-winning materials every day, and provide what you need to enhance the learning experience with our easy to use and flexible programmes.

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