Key Stage 2

Way to go!

If you're in key stage 2 you will be learning a lot of stuff - in Science and Geography and History as well as Maths and English. You will be learning a language other than English, and doing Music, Art and Design and ICT.

The National Curriculum provides a framework for all of your studies.

You may already know about the different parts of plants and about pollination and photosynthesis. What the difference between deciduous and evergreen is? You may know of the classification of animals and know the terms carnivore and herbivore.1 You may have learned about the Bronze and Iron Ages and know about the Romans or the Vikings or the Normans and 1066.2 You may have learned about climate and the water cycle3 and you may be able to say something in French or Spanish or another language.4 You will be exploring different techniques in drawing and painting and perhaps sculpture.5

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In Maths you are using your knowledge of numbers to do more complex Mathematics and problem solving. In English, your increasing knowledge of sentence structure and grammar is allowing you to create more sophisticated compositions. You are, or will be, writing your first computer programs.

  • Show footnotes

    1. The Science syllabus includes the study of plants up to water transportation; animals up to the human circulatory system; matter, forces and energy including magnetism and electricity up to simple circuits and the difference between series and parallel circuits in Year 6; and mechanics including latterly levers, pulleys and gears.
    2. The History syllabus at key stage 2 suggests a range of topics that may be covered toward a "chronologically secure" knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history, "establishing clear narratives" within and across the periods studied.
    3. In Geography, pupils consider physical and human features of the world, and particularly Europe; land use, natural resources, climate and time zones; and maps and the globe including important lines of latitude and longitude and grid referencing.
    4. A language other than English is studied at key stage 2: "Teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language and should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language."
    5. At key stage 2 pupils explore art and design using different materials and obtain an awareness of different kinds of art, craft and design.

Maths, English and Computing/ICT are considered in detail elsewhere on this website.
You can find the National Curriculum here:


The core subjects are Maths, English and Science. The National Curriculum has undergone some considerable revision since its inception in 1988, although in its broad outline it has continued as originally conceived. Most recently, effective in SATs this year (2016), changes have been made to the Maths curriculum which include a greater emphasis on formal methods of written calculation. In the statutory assessment tests, the former mental arithmetic paper has been replaced by a non-calculator written calculation test. In Year 6 now in Maths there is this new test and two further papers, rather like the previous two written ones, aimed at testing pupils' reasoning skills. The changes in Maths requiring a deeper and more comprehensive grasp of number as far as decimals and fractions and, although opinions vary, it is a change that will perhaps stand students in better stead for progressing to Secondary school. Some, but by no means all, parents that I meet welcome a more rigorous approach to arithmetic. (Of course, Maths is about more than calculation skills). More generally, I think, parents have been left bemused by the changes and the discussion around them.

In English this year too, SATs have included 2 spelling, punctuation and grammar tests. Reading (comprehension) continues to be externally assessed in Year 6, but writing (composition) is now wholly assessed by teacher in class1. There are 3 SAT English papers in Year 6. Science is not generally part of the statutory assessment2. Changes have been made to the way that end of KS2 Statutory Assessment Test results are reported, the former levels being replaced by a scaled score. The new expected standard is a scaled score of 100, similar to the old level 4b3, along with the teacher's assessment of the same standard in writing.


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and specific feedback crucial to learning. Teachers use ongoing assessment as an essential part of the whole process and there has been a concern that the old system of levels has subverted the proper use of assessment, causing a drift in teaching and learning toward getting up to or beyond the next level. Referring to levels as a measure of progress and expectation has entered common parlance so that assessment has in some measure lost its focus on the matters of understanding and competence with aspects of a subject. The rationale of changing to Assessment Without Levels4 is that the process of assessment should be given back to teaching and learning while still providing for a National Standardised Test at the end of the key stage.

The old National Curriculum Levels and
expected level (bold colours) at each stage

Level:     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8  

The old level descriptors are replaced by attainment targets rooted in the Programme of Study for each subject, regarding which the National Curriculum says: "By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study. A subject's Programme of Study contains both content that must be taught and other content as examples.

  • Show footnotes

    1. Teachers will use the new performance descriptors to assess writing. Teachers are required still to provide a summative assessment at the end of key stage 2 for each subject and which should not be considered to be either validated or invalidated by SAT results but should be considered as of equal importance. Schools and teachers are responsible for formulating their own methods of assessment, both formative and summative.
    2. A sample of pupils will continue to sit SAT tests in science to give a picture of national performance.
    3. According to the Education Department's Primary Accountability and Assessment Consultation Response document, a scaled score of 100 is "similar to a level 4b" in the old system.
    4. Final report of the Commission on Assessment without Levels, Sep. 2016:

If you are in Year 6, you are also thinking about the school you will be going up to. You may already thinking about this if you are in Year 5, particularly if your choice of Secondary School (mainly Grammar Schools1) has an entrance exam, often called an 11-plus. Entrance exams vary between secondary schools and may include verbal and non verbal reasoning as well as English and Maths. Some parents prefer to send their children to a fee-paying preparatory school with a view to getting a place at the secondary school of their choice. There are, in any case, fee-paying public schools for which students must often prepare for the Common Entrance Examination2 and to which end attendance at a Prep school is more common.

  1. For more about Grammar Schools see
  2. The Common Entrance Examination (CE) is set by the Independent Schools Examination Board. At 11+, CE consists of 2 English exams as well as exams each in Maths and Science.