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Grammar

Grammar students should know in KS1 and KS2

By Dylan Davies

21 Nov 2022

A teacher and a student learning grammar in KS1 and KS2

Having a strong understanding of grammar sets your learners up for success in every subject.

Grammar is the basis upon which we communicate ideas, respond to exam questions and write creatively. In this way, grammar makes up the building blocks that support learners across the curriculum.

The National Curriculum in the UK sets out guidelines for each school year, highlighting the grammar learners should be confident with. Not only does this help inform your explicit grammar curriculum, but it also helps highlight areas where learners lack confidence for reteaching.

In addition to this, Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler (The Writing Revolution) emphasise the importance of grammar as part of an essential combination that supports learners’ writing.

“Offer pupils the gift of grammar so that they can make informed writing choices." - Alex Quigley

While the National Curriculum has summed up this framework, we have added useful examples to reinforce the rules of grammar and increase understanding.

The grammar taught at KS1 and KS2 is crucial for setting the foundations for a learner’s success. The skills they learn during these key stages form a bedrock of knowledge for subject learning in the future. Understanding how to read, analyse and construct sentences, whatever the subject matter, prepares learners for the secondary school curriculum.

However, as important as it is, explicit grammar teaching is difficult to keep engaging, especially for lower key stages. Teachers have to be creative in how they teach grammar, whether that’s through engaging curriculum plans or video-based, gamified edtech tools, such as Bedrock's core curriculum.

Grammar is interlinked with everything we teach and everything students learn. Each stage we cover in the grammar curriculum primes learners for stages after - this is why a structured, thought-out grammar curriculum is so important.

Using the framework from the National Curriculum, we have summarised and given useful examples of the grammar learners need in each school year - from there, whether it’s through the use of curriculum planning or engaging tools like Bedrock's core curriculum, it’s up to teachers in all subjects to ensure this framework is supported for every learner.

Words

Learners should know basic suffixes, such as “s”, “un” and “ed”. When changing “cat” to “cats” and “jump” to “jumped”, learners should know that the meaning has changed, and to what.

Example: Becca’s cats undid their collars. She laughed.

Sentence

Learners should know that words in a sequence make a sentence, and should be able to add “and” to make a sentence with two clauses.

Example: Giovanni woke up late and missed the school bus.

Text

Learners should be able to use multiple sentences to make a narrative.

Example: I went to school today. I had an apple and a pear in my lunch box. They were tasty.

Punctuation

Learners should separate sentences with spaces, use basic punctuation, and capitalise names and the pronoun “I”.

Example: Where did you go yesterday? I went to the park with Joanna. It was amazing!

Words

Learners should be able to construct their own nouns using suffixes and compound words.

Example: Pierre’s happiness grew larger as he drew Spiderman on the whiteboard.

Sentence

Learners should know subordination (if, because) and coordination (or, but) when making sentences, as well as being able to identify the function of a sentence from its grammatical structure (a question, a command, a statement, etc.)

Example: If Lucida misses her piano lesson, she won’t pass her exam, because she needs to practise to improve.

Learners should also be able to expand nouns into noun phrases to describe them better.

Example: To bake a birthday cake, you need plain flour and a good pastry chef.

Text

Consistent use of past and present tense should be used throughout a learner’s writing, as well as the use of progressive verbs.

Example: Jack was banging his drums all night. Now my ears hurt and I’m tired.

Punctuation

Learners should mark sentences using the punctuation they learned in Year 1, while also introducing commas in a list and apostrophes to show contraction and possession.

Example: Vik’s fruit salad had apples, grapes, cherries and oranges in it. It was delicious! What would it taste like with pineapple in it?

Words

Learners should form nouns using prefixes, such as “auto” and “anti”, and be able to choose between “a” and “an” depending on the noun that follows.

Example: Susy read an autobiography of a famous person. He was a scientist who studied a supernova.

Sentence

Learners should be able to express cause, place and time using adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions.

Example: After school, Jules went to his swimming lesson. Jules goes swimming every day because he wants to improve before the swimming competition. When Jules finished his lesson, he knew dinnertime was soon.

Text

Learners should use paragraphs, headings and subheadings to structure the way text is presented. As well as this, learners should be able to use the present perfect tense of verbs, not just the simple past tense.

Example: Rachel has gone to the movies. She won’t be back in time for dinner.

Punctuation

Learners are introduced to inverted commas, or speech marks, to signal direct speech.

Example: Oh, no,” Rachel’s mum said. I made her favourite meal tonight.

Words

Learners should recognise the difference between plural and possessive ‘-s’, and be able to differentiate between verb inflections in Standard English versus the language of their local region.

Example: Habibah’s aunt has fifteen cars. Habibah’s mum said she could have used the money in better ways.

Sentence

Learners should be able to expand noun phrases using adjectives, additional nouns and prepositions, as well as using fronted adverbials.

Example: After lunch, George’s dad told him he had a surprise. When he came back from work, he brought with him a fluffy dog with black ears and brown eyes. George was so happy!

Text

Learners should use paragraphs to organise ideas around a theme. Also, learners should be able to switch between using the noun and the pronoun for cohesion.

Example: Sylvia thought about buying sweets before dinner, but she knew her parents would get angry.

Punctuation

Learners should accurately use punctuation such as inverted commas to mark speech, both before and after the reporting clause.

Example: The fireman yelled, Everybody out of the building!

Words

Learners can convert nouns and adjectives into verbs using suffixes, such as “ate” and “ise”

Example: Veronica’s brother advised her to diversify and migrate her data. She replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sentence

Learners should be able to use relative clauses, such as who, where, when, whose, etc., as well as adverbs and modal verbs.

Example: Simon, who owns seventeen gerbils, should probably buy more pellets for them. When he buys a normal amount, he runs out quickly.

Text

Learners should form cohesive paragraphs, using connectors and adverbials of time to structure text and link ideas throughout the piece.

Example: Firstly, Freya folded the paper in half. Secondly, she pushed the corners down. Finally, she straightened the lines with her nail. She threw it out of the window, and it landed in a nearby park.

Punctuation

Learners begin to use brackets, dashes and commas as parentheses, as well as using commas to clarify meaning.

Example: When Elijah woke at 11am - which was pretty early for him - he went down the stairs, ate some toast and butter (cold), and headed out of the door.

Words

Learners know the difference between informal and formal speech and writing, including the vocabulary used.

Example: “Katie discovered the secret to improving accuracy,” vs. “Katie found out a way to make her writing better.”

Learners also understand relationships between synonyms and antonyms.

Example: Big and little, dark and light, right and wrong.

Sentence

Learners should be able to use the passive to change sentence meaning

Example: “I pushed him off his bike,” vs. “He was pushed off his bike.”

Learners should also recognise structures of informal and formal speech.

Example: “You’re going to eat that, right?” vs. “If I were to eat your food, what would happen?”

Text

Learners should be able to:

  • Link ideas across paragraphs to make writing cohesive
  • Repeat a word or phrase
  • Use grammatical connections, such as “on the other hand” or “despite”
  • Use ellipses

Example: Despite George’s happiness, it turned out that the fluffy dog with black ears and brown eyes needed walking a lot, and ate a lot of food. On the other hand, it was very cute. George didn't know what to do...

Punctuation

Learners should accurately use the semicolon, the colon and the dash to mark the boundary between independent clauses, as well as the colon to introduce lists.

Example: It rained all day; I forgot my umbrella, so I got soaked. That's the issue with rain: it's always very wet.

Learners should be able to use bullet points to list information (just like we did above!)

Learners should also be able to use hyphens to avoid ambiguity.

Example: Fish eating cat, vs. fish-eating cat.

While knowing the grammar framework doesn’t boost your learners’ knowledge, it does help to inform your explicit grammar curriculum planning, ensuring that every learner has the chance to thrive.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. The grammar learners encounter throughout their academic careers will vary, especially when texts begin deliberately “breaking the rules” for effect. However, a learner with confidence in all of the above is set up for success when they enter secondary school, helping them continue their progress.

It’s also important to remember that learners don’t have to be completely confident with these grammar skills in specific school years. The curriculum framework maps out when grammar skills should be introduced, not when they should be mastered. It is through consistent exposure that learners improve their confidence. A well-planned grammar curriculum, or a grammar edtech tool with algorithmic recapping, ensures learners practice grammar over time and develop their mastery.

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