What English Is Taught In Year One?

Written by Dan

The first year of schooling is crucial for laying the foundation in English, where children typically between the ages of five and six begin to explore the basics of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

At this stage, the aim is to ignite a love for reading and encourage a knack for storytelling, enabling young learners to start expressing their thoughts and ideas with growing confidence.

The English curriculum in Year 1 is designed to introduce children to fundamental literacy skills through a variety of engaging methods.

Related: For more, check out our article on What English Is Taught In Reception?

Children sit in a circle, listening to the teacher. A whiteboard displays letters and simple words. Books and flashcards are scattered around the room

During this important academic year, students learn to recognise letters, understand the sounds they make, and start blending them to read and spell simple words.

They are introduced to basic grammar concepts, including sentence construction and the use of punctuation. In addition, early writing skills are fostered as children compose their own simple texts. Guided reading sessions allow students to engage with a range of texts, expanding their vocabulary and comprehension.

There is, moreover, a strong emphasis on integrating English learning with other subjects to create a holistic educational experience, ensuring that literacy skills are developed across the curriculum.

Key Takeaways

  • Year 1 introduces vital literacy skills, setting the stage for future learning.
  • Children engage with texts that expand their vocabulary and understanding.
  • English is integrated with other subjects to enrich overall education.

Related: For more, check out our article on The 12 Tenses In English

Foundations of English in Year 1

In a Year 1 English class, children learn basic grammar, vocabulary, and phonics through interactive activities and games

The first year of formal education in England places significant emphasis on laying the groundwork in English, focusing on phonetic development and vocabulary enhancement.

This forms part of the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1 pupils.

Phonics and Phonic Knowledge

In Year 1, students embark on a systematic journey exploring phonics—the relationship between sounds and their spellings. Recognising and manipulating phonemes, the smallest units of sound, is a cornerstone of literacy at this stage.

The Phonics Screening Check is a pivotal assessment that gauges children’s phonic knowledge towards the end of Year 1.

This screening ensures that pupils have mastered the essential skills to decode words effectively and are proficient in identifying sounds, including complex sounds, and matching them with their corresponding letters or groups of letters.

  • Key phonics targets in Year 1:
    • Recognise common phonemes.
    • Blend sounds to read words.
    • Segment words into their constituent phonemes for spelling.

Vocabulary Development

Vocabulary expansion in Year 1 extends beyond simple word recognition. Pupils are introduced to a plethora of nouns and vocabulary that cover various subjects and themes relevant to their age and experiences.

The goal is to develop a robust vocabulary bank which is crucial in building reading and comprehension capabilities.

  • Approaches to vocabulary building:
    • Exposure to a diverse range of texts.
    • Use of nouns and modifiers in varying contexts.
    • Encouragement of word formation through understanding syllable structure and patterns.

These are just the basic elements of the English curriculum pupils are expected to grasp in their initial year of formal education, setting the stage for more advanced language acquisition in subsequent years.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Write A Dynamic English Plan?

Key Literacy Skills

A classroom with colorful alphabet posters, storybooks, and word flashcards. A teacher pointing to a whiteboard with phonics and sight words

In Year One, pupils are introduced to the fundamental building blocks of literacy, ingraining skills that will underpin their future learning. These skills span across reading and comprehension, writing and composition, and spelling fundamentals.

Reading and Comprehension

At this stage, children are encouraged to develop their reading skills through regular exposure to stories, fiction, and non-fiction texts.

Guided reading sessions provide structured comprehension practice, allowing children to engage with texts under the supervision of a teacher.

They begin to understand the alphabet and phonetic principles, moving on from inaccurate reading to more fluent reading and comprehension skills.

  • Identify letters and sounds
  • Read words and simple sentences
  • Recognise common vocabulary

Writing and Composition

Writing evolves from mark-making to forming letters and words. Children learn to write simple sentences, applying basic grammar and punctuation rules like capital letters and full stops.

They are taught to communicate ideas in written form and use handwriting skills to write legibly.

  • Construct basic sentences with appropriate punctuation: capital letters, full stops, question marks, commas, and exclamation marks
  • Express ideas through writing, both creatively and informatively

Spelling Fundamentals

Year One spelling focuses on phonics where children connect sounds with letters. They learn to spell simple words and begin to understand the use of suffixes and prefixes.

Spelling rules are introduced and practised to build a strong vocabulary foundation.

  • Spell words containing taught letter-sound correspondences
  • Learn to spell common exception words and apply simple spelling rules

Integrating English with Other Subjects

Integrating English language learning with other primary school subjects provides a holistic educational experience, and targets the development of language skills through engaging, context-based activities.

Creative Expression through English

Integrating English with Art and Design, Drama, Music, and Dance encourages creative expression in year one students. They learn to describe shapes, colours, and movements, both in oral and written forms, reinforcing their descriptive language and vocabulary.

In Art, children might be asked to talk about their drawings or the process involved in creating them. When it comes to Drama and performances, scripts and storyboarding offer opportunities for narrative construction.

Music lessons may involve singing songs that can expand children’s vocabulary and phonemic awareness.

Understanding the World

Through the integration of English with Science, History, Geography, and Religious Education, students learn to name and describe phenomena, understand sequences of events, and recognise the diversity of the world around them.

In Science, discussing the life cycles of plants and animals helps children practise explanatory writing. History lets them explore past events and the language necessary to describe them.

Geography lessons provide a platform for students to learn the vocabulary related to landscapes, weather, and the environment, while Religious Education introduces them to the narratives and language of different cultures and beliefs.

Assessment and Progression in Year 1

In Year 1, students learn English through interactive activities like reading, writing, and speaking. They explore phonics, vocabulary, and basic grammar concepts

In Year 1, pupils encounter a structured approach to assessment, aligning with the National Curriculum‘s standards.

This initial stage is where they begin their formal education within Key Stage 1, and educators methodically gauge their progress.

Assessment in Year 1 is multifaceted:

  • Teacher Assessments play a significant role, with educators observing day-to-day activities.
  • Pupils undergo regular informal assessments through observation and classroom work.
  • More formal assessments may occur periodically to monitor specific skills.

The progression map for Year 1 English details the expected development in reading and writing, which can be found in resources like English Progression Maps.

Teachers assist in identifying areas for improvement and provide support to help pupils reach their potential.

The curriculum is designed to encourage a love of reading and writing, with pupils learning fundamental skills:

  • Phonics: helping them decode words for reading and spelling.
  • Literacy: fostering both comprehension and composition abilities.

During this year, students are typically aged 5 to 6 and their teacher assessments must be supportive and continuous, ensuring that any learning gaps are addressed promptly and effectively.

It’s also here that the groundwork for Key Stage 2 is laid, establishing a strong foundation for their future learning journey.

Teachers ensure that their assessments are in line with the National Curriculum to promote a seamless transition into the next stage of education.

Supporting English at Home

A cozy living room with a bookshelf full of colorful children's books, a small table with alphabet flashcards, and a family sitting together reading

Parents can play a crucial role in enhancing their child’s English skills outside school, particularly in Year 1 where foundations in reading, writing, and listening are established.

Focusing on phonics at home is beneficial as it supports the development of reading and spelling skills. Phonics resources are widely available online and through educational apps, offering engaging ways for children to practice their sound recognition and blending skills.

Incorporating reading into the daily routine should not be overlooked. Children in Year 1 are exposed to a wide range of texts at school, and continuing this exposure at home boosts vocabulary and comprehension.

Parents are encouraged to read together with their child, discussing the stories and asking questions to improve their child’s listening and understanding.

Regular use of worksheets can consolidate what children have learned in school. Worksheets focusing on grammar, punctuation, and writing can be both informative and entertaining.

They allow children to practice their skills in a structured way, often providing immediate feedback.

Integrating educational games into learning is an effective method especially towards the Summer Term, as they can prevent learning loss during the holidays.

Games that incorporate English concepts can be both digital or traditional board games and can improve a child’s engagement and retention of information.

Parents should aim to create a balanced approach, combining reading, phonics practice, worksheets, and games, to support their child’s English learning at home.

An active partnership between home and school is pivotal towards a child’s success in their initial years of education.

Frequently Asked Questions

The ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section addresses specific elements of the Year 1 English curriculum, providing concise responses to enhance understanding.

What topics are encompassed within the Year 1 English curriculum?

The Year 1 English curriculum covers reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Pupils learn phonics to aid reading fluency and are introduced to basic grammar and punctuation concepts.

How does the English curriculum for Year 1 differ from that of Year 2?

In Year 1, there is a significant focus on phonics and developing basic sentence structures, while Year 2 builds upon this foundation with more complex sentences and introduces additional punctuation and grammar rules.

Could you provide an overview of the Key Stage 1 (KS1) English educational objectives?

KS1 English educational objectives include fostering a love of reading, mastering basic phonics, understanding simple sentences, and beginning to write for various purposes. Pupils also learn to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently.

What types of resources, such as worksheets, are utilised for English lessons in Year 1?

Worksheets are often employed alongside practical activities, storybooks, and interactive exercises to reinforce reading and writing skills in accordance with the Year 1 English syllabus.

How have the English learning targets for Year 1 evolved since 2021?

Since 2021, there has been an increased emphasis on phonics and reading comprehension in alignment with the National Curriculum to ensure a solid foundation in literacy from the beginning of primary education.

What is the structure of a typical English lesson for Year 1 pupils?

A typical English lesson for Year 1 pupils includes phonics instruction, guided reading sessions, handwriting practice, speaking in full sentences, and gradual introduction to independent writing tasks.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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