How parents can support their child

There are lots of ways that you can help your child at home: do make sure, for example, that you read frequently with your child, and support them with the current learning that’s taking place in school.  Below, you can find a description of National Curriculum levels and some practical ideas to help you support your child.

All children work at different levels in different subjects depending on their strengths. They also work at different rates: boys, for example, tend to increase their rate of progress in Key Stage 2.

When we refer to expectations, it’s important to remember this. At St Peter’s Catholic Primary, our teaching is based around the individual child: whilst we consider what the broad national ‘average’ would be, we also very closely consider personal targets and rates of progress. For example, a very able child is challenged to carry out work in a different way or at a different level. This way, all our pupils are expected to make good progress and achieve their potential.

When the National Curriculum was created, national expectations were also set in place. These are known as ‘levels’. Levels are quite broad ‘averages’. They can be made more precise by referring to a low, middle or high level, in the following way:

In primary schools, the majority of pupils begin Year 1 (the start of Key Stage 1) working at around Level 1C (a ‘low’ Level 1). From this point, they are expected to work broadly at the following levels:

Summer term, Year 2 (the end of Key Stage 1)

  • pupils work at around Level 2B or 2A (a ‘middle’ or ‘high’ Level 2)
  • more able children might achieve a Level 3C / 3B

Summer term, Year 6 (the end of Key Stage 2)

  • pupils work at around Level 4B or 4A (a ‘middle’ or ‘high’ Level 4)
  • more able children might achieve a Level 5C / 5B / 5A

When deciding on a pupil’s level of attainment, teachers judge a pupil’s performance against different ‘level descriptions’. Some end-of-year tests in English and Maths may also be used. Tests at the end of Key Stage 2 (Year 6) are called SATs – these remain statutory requirements.

The Government has established national targets for the proportion of 11-year-olds achieving Level 4 in English and maths at the end of Key Stage 2. Schools are required to set targets for the proportions of their pupils reaching these targets.

Reading Levels

Some key characteristics of the different levels of reading are shown below. You can use these to support your child, but they should not be used to make a decision about what level your child is working on because they are not the sole criteria.

Working at Level 1

Children can:

  • Identify the main events and characters in stories, and find specific information in simple texts
  • Make predictions showing an understanding of ideas, events and characters
  • Recognise the main elements that shape different texts eg lists, comic strips with speech in bubbles, ‘once upon a time’ to show the start of a fairy tale
  • Explore the effect of patterns of language and repeated words and phrases
  • Select books for personal reading and give reasons for their choices
  • Visualise and comment on events, characters and ideas, making imaginative links to their own experiences
  • Distinguish fiction and non-fiction texts and the different purposes for reading them

Working at Level 2 (a typical Year 2 child)

Children can:

  • Read independently and with increasing fluency longer and less familiar texts
  • Give some reasons why things happen or characters change
  • Explain organisational features of texts, including alphabetical order, layout, diagrams, captions, hyperlinks and bullet points
  • Explore how particular words are used, including words and expressions with similar meanings eg ‘gasped’ and ‘shouted’
  • Read whole books on their own, choosing and explaining their choices
  • Explain their reactions and feelings to texts, commenting on important aspects eg which of the characters would be a good friend and why?

Working at Level 3 (a typical Year 3 or Year 4 child)

Children can:

  • Work out a character’s reasons for behaviour from their actions eg why did the character start to shiver?
  • Explain how ideas are developed in non-fiction texts eg what was this section all about and how was it different to this section?
  • In non-fiction texts, use knowledge of different organisational features of texts to find information effectively
    • eg use headings and sub-headings, captions and the index
  • In fiction texts, explain how writers use language to create images and atmosphere
    • eg why did the writer describe the dog as ‘bouncing around like a ball’?
  • Read extensively favourite authors or genres and experiment with other types of text
  • Explore why and how writers write eg through online contact with authors (check out Jeremy Strong’s website, or the official Horrid Henry one!)

Working at Level 4 (a typical Year 5 or Year 6 child)

Children can:

  • Understand underlying themes, causes and points of view
  • Recognise different ways to argue, persuade, mislead and sway the reader eg read some promotional leaflets and the websites before you go on a day-trip to a theme park or museum!
  • Compare different types of narrative and information texts and identify how they are structured
    • eg compare different instructions, compare the clever ways Jacqueline Wilson structures her stories
  • Explore how writers use language for different effects
    • eg why did the writer repeat this word?
    • eg why did the writer describe the character’s palms sweating?
  • Read extensively and discuss personal reading with others – this is one of the reasons why reading aloud and sharing ideas with others is important, even for older children (why not encourage a reading group with your child and family / friends!)
  • Compare how writers present experiences and use language eg compare the Horrid Histories series (Vile Victorians, for example) with a typical non-fiction book and even a fictional story set in Victorian times

Working at Level 5

  • Typically, children can continue to develop the areas suggested for Level 4, but at a deeper level and for more challenging texts.
    • eg Children able to understand underlying themes, causes and points of view should begin to ‘read between the lines’ and find evidence for their interpretation

Writing Levels

Some key characteristics of the different levels of writing are shown below. You can use these to support your child, but they should not be used to make a decision about what level your child is working on because they are not the sole criteria.

Working at Level 1

Children can:

  • Use capital letters and full stops when punctuating simple sentences
  • Write most letters, correctly formed and orientated, using a comfortable pencil grip
  • Write with spaces between words accurately
  • Use the space bar and keyboard to type their name and simple texts
  • Spell new words using phonics as the prime approach ie ‘sounding out’ words eg brush, crunch
  • Use knowledge of common patterns in spelling eg adding -s / -es for plurals, -ly to make slow-ly, -er to make slow-er
  • Use key features of stories in their own writing ie ‘copying’ ideas, words, phrases for their own writing
  • Find and use new and interesting words and phrases, including story language
  • Create short simple texts on paper and screen that combine words with images (and sounds)
  • Compose and write simple sentences independently to communicate meaning

Working at Level 2 (a typical Year 2 child)

Children can:

  • Write legibly, using upper and lower case letters appropriately
  • Use correct spacing within and between words
  • Wordprocess short texts
    • eg stories, poems, even made-up sentences which contain the spelling words from spelling lists!
  • Spell with increasing accuracy and confidence
    • eg use word recognition, knowledge of word structure, spelling patterns such as –ing and –ful, and use of double letters such as smooth and sleeping
  • Compose sentences using consistent tense (ie don’t mix up present and past) and person (ie don’t start a story about Tom using ‘he’ and then change to ‘I’)
  • Use question marks, and use commas to separate items in a list
  • Select from different presentational features to suit particular writing purposes on paper and on screen eg use lists, headings, bullet points
  • Make adventurous word and language choices appropriate to the style and purpose of the text

Working at Level 3 (a typical Year 4 child)

Children can:

  • Write consistently with neat, legible and joined handwriting
  • Use word processing packages to present written work and continue to increase speed and accuracy in typing
  • Distinguish the spelling and meaning of common homophones eg to / too / two, where / were
  • Know and apply common spelling rules: drop ‘e’ for ‘ing’
    • eg stare ⇒ staring
  • change ‘y’ to ‘i’
    • eg beauty ⇒ beautiful, messy ⇒ messiest
  • double up letters for short vowel sounds
    • eg hop ⇒ hopping not hoping, dinner not diner
  • Use commas to mark clauses eg Feeling very nervous, Tom walked towards the cellar door
  • Use the apostrophe for possession eg Tom’s heart was racing as he walked towards the door
  • Vary sentence structure eg look at the two sentences above about Tom – one has a powerful opener, one has powerful description
  • Summarise and shape material and ideas from different sources to write convincing and informative non-narrative texts eg write a report about tigers using information from websites and other books
  • Show imagination through the language used to describe
    • eg try to describe not just what can be seen but also what could be heard, smelt and the characters’ feelings
  • Organise text into paragraphs: change the paragraph for a change of speaker, place, subject, time or mood

Working at Level 4 (a typical Year 6 child)

Children can:

  • Use different styles of handwriting for different purposes
    • eg using CAPITALS sometimes
  • Select from a wide range of ICT programs to present text effectively and communicate information and ideas
  • Select words and language drawing on their knowledge of different text types and formal and informal writing
  • Punctuate sentences accurately, including using speech marks, apostrophes, brackets, exclamation and question marks
  • Use paragraphs to achieve pace and emphasis
    • eg longer paragraphs of description, shorter paragraphs for dramatic events
  • Maintain viewpoints
    • eg do you want the reader to know the character is scared?
    • Do you want to criticise a product?
  • Use different techniques to engage and entertain the reader eg repetition, metaphors, descriptive details

Working at Level 5

Typically, children can continue to develop the skills described for Level 4, but with greater effectiveness and with greater precision or detail. For example:

  • Children who are able to select words and language drawing on their knowledge of different text types and formal and informal writing should also experiment with the visual and sound effects of language, including the use of imagery, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme
  • Children who punctuate sentences accurately should also use semi-colons( ; ), dashes ( – ), ellipses ( … ) and all other punctuation accurately

Maths Levels

Some key characteristics of the different levels of maths are shown below. You can use these to support your child, but they should not be used to make a decision about what level your child is working on because they are not the sole criteria. It’s important to stress that pupils should develop their knowledge and understanding of maths through practical activities, whilst cooking, shopping and even playing sports, for example. Playing board games is a brilliant way to support your child in maths!

Working at Level 1

Children can:

  • Recognise and use a simple pattern or relationship
    • eg make patterns with Smarties, like pink, pink, green, pink, pink, green etc
  • Count, order, add and subtract numbers when solving problems involving up to 10 objects and can read and write the numbers involved
    • eg count some orange Smarties and some green Smarties, and then count how many altogether
  • Use everyday language to describe properties and positions
    • eg ‘straight’, ‘under’, ‘next to’
  • Measure and order objects using direct comparison, and order events
    • eg ‘bigger than’, smallest’
  • Sort objects and classify them, demonstrating the criterion they have used
    • eg try sorting toys into soft / not soft and fruit into those you can / can’t eat whole

Working at Level 2 (a typical Year 2 child)

Children can:

  • Count sets of objects reliably
  • Use mental recall of addition and subtraction facts to 10 and to 20. These are often called number bonds
    • eg 3 + 7 = 10, 6 + 4 = 10, so 10 – 7 = 3, 10 – 6 = 4
    • eg 13 + 7 = 20, 6 + 14 = 20, so 20 – 7 = 13, 20 – 6 = 14
  • Know the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables and work out the associated division facts
    • eg 5 x 6 = 30, so 30 ÷ 6 = 5
  • Order numbers up to 100
    • eg write the price on different products and then your child can put the objects into the correct order
  • Solve addition and subtraction problems
  • Use mental calculation strategies to solve number problems involving money and measures
    • eg how much change will you get, or how much is left if you use half of the milk
  • Recognise sequences of numbers
    • eg odds, evens, counting in 5s, 10s
  • Use mathematical names for common 3-D and 2-D shapes and describe their properties
    • eg a cube has square faces, a triangle has three sides and three vertices (corners)
  • Use non-standard and standard units to measure length and mass
    • eg compare the length of tables or mats by measuring in toy cars (non-standard) or standard units (centimetres)

Working at Level 3 (a typical Year 4 child)

Children can:

  • Know (without having to count up) all the multiplication tables and work out the associated division facts
    • eg 7 x 6 = 42, so 42 ÷ 6 = 7
  • Show understanding of place value in numbers up to 1000
    • eg roll four die: what’s the biggest / smallest number that can be made? Try to make this into a competition!
  • Recognise negative numbers, in contexts such as money and temperature
    • eg check the temperature each day during winter weather!
  • Solve whole-number problems involving multiplication or division, including those that give rise to remainders
  • Use simple fractions that are several parts of a whole and recognise when two simple fractions are equivalent
    • eg when you slice a cake or pizza, compare 1/4 and 2/8
  • Use standard metric units of length, capacity and mass
    • eg do some measuring (of lengths and capacities) and weighing – you could check that a carton of juice really does contain 200ml, and work out what the average weight of an apple is
  • Be able to tell the time

Working at Level 4 (a typical Year 6 child)

Children can:

  • Use their understanding of place value to multiply and divide whole numbers by 10 or 100
    • eg 47 x 10 = 470, 56 ÷ 10 = 5.6
  • Use multiplication and division facts up to 10 x 10 (a Year 4 objective) to work out bigger numbers and decimals
    • eg 7 x 8 = 56, so what’s 70 x 8 and 0.7 x 8?
  • Know square numbers
    • eg 2 x 2, 6 x 6, 9 x 9
  • Find fractions of an amount
    • eg 1/8 of 56 = 7, so what is 5/8 of 56?
  • Be able to use a calculator quickly and carefully
  • Estimate and measure angles using a protractor
  • Use and interpret coordinates
    • eg have a game of Battleships!
  • Do lots of practical measuring using metric units and then convert between units (such as 2.75 litres = 2750 ml, 108 cm = 1.08 metres, 4050 g = 4.05 kg)
    • eg take a range of objects, estimate how much they weigh, and then weigh them
    • – do the estimates get closer as you get more used to the different weights?
  • Find perimeters (the total length around a shape) and areas (length x width) of simple shapes
    • eg find the area of each bedroom, work out the perimeter of different tables

Working at Level 5

  • Typically, children can continue to practise the ideas given for Level 4, but at a quicker, more careful and more challenging level. For example:
    • 407 ÷ 100 = 4.07, 5.06 x 100 = 506
    • 7 x 8 = 56, so 70 x 80 = 5,600
    • Know square roots such as 64 = ? x ?