This is our guide to:
- what primary school is
- the national curriculum
- what your child will learn
- what assessments they'll take
- when they'll take them
We also have information on:
- Phonics (a technique many primary schools use in teaching to read)
- Reading for pleasure (how to get your child enjoying reading and improve their understanding)
What is primary school?
(Please note that school provision can vary and the national curriculum is set to change in 2014).
||Phonics screening check
||Teacher assessments in English, Maths & Science
||National tests & teacher assessments in English, Maths & Science
Primary school is where your child will follow the national curriculum.
The national curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so children learn the same things. It's written by the department of education.
It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject.
The national curriculum is organised into blocks of years called key stages. At the end of each stage your child's teacher will formally assess their performance to measure your child's progress.
At primary school your child will move through 3 of the key stages:
Early years foundation stage
In reception your child will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old.
There is an assessment at the end of the academic year when they turn 5. These are not tests for the child – the assessments are based on the teacher's observations.
Information from these tests is used for parents and teachers to support children’s learning and development.
The 7 areas of early years learning
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Understanding of the world
- Expressive arts and design
When you receive a school report it will often refer to these 7 areas.
The child often learns about subjects and other people through play.
Early years foundation stage profile
At the end of the academic year when a child turns 5, the teacher records each child’s development by watching the child playing and in the classroom.
The completed assessment is known as the early years foundation stage profile. It's used to help their year 1 teacher plan lessons.
Key stages 1 and 2
Compulsory national curriculum subjects at key stages 1 and 2 are:
- Design and technology
- Art and design
- Physical Education (PE), including swimming
- Information and communication technology (ICT)
Schools can develop their own ICT curricula or follow programmes of study set by the government.
They must also provide religious education (RE), but children don’t have to study it. Schools often also teach:
- Personal, social and health education (PSHE)
- Modern and foreign languages
Key stage 1 and 2 tests and assessments
Year 1 phonics screening check
The check will take place in June when your child will read 40 words to a teacher.
You’ll find out how your child did, and their teacher will assess whether he or she needs extra help with reading.
If your child doesn’t reach a certain standard they’ll do it again in Year 2.
Key stage 1 tests
These assess the following areas:
- Speaking and listening
The school chooses when they're taken.
Your child’s teacher will assess their work (including spoken work and homework) to work out your child's level in each area.
You can ask for the results but they’re only used to help the teacher assess your child’s work.
Key stage 2 tests
These assess the following areas:
- English reading
- English grammar
- Punctuation and spelling
- Mathematics (including mental arithmetic)
The tests are taken in mid–May and last under 5 and a half hours in total. You’ll get the results in July.
If your child is demonstrating higher achievement, then the headteacher may put them in for extra tests.
When your child reaches the end of key stage 2 the teacher will also give reports on your child’s progress in English, maths and science.
But do remember: Primary School is also about your child having fun and being happy.