National Standards

Are National Standards the long-awaited panacea or a failure? The heated debate aside, here is a detailed look at what it means for our children to be meeting the standards, or achieving at expectation.

after 1 year at school

Reading

Your child can read and understand books at the green level of the Ready To Read colour wheel. Here is a page from a green-level book: “My great-grandma rode a horse. She rode it to school. It was a very long way.”

Writing

Your child plans their writing by talking or drawing pictures. They write independently, link their story to their everyday experiences and include many words they know from their reading. The writing is a simple text of several sentences, which will express an idea or an opinion. An example may be a report of what they did last weekend or how to care for a goldfish. It’s expected that they can spell the basic words, but not advanced words like “earth”.

Maths

To solve problems, your child still counts using their fingers, although they may start to count in their heads and recognise number patterns, like 3 + 2 = 5. To meet the standard, they are learning to:
  • solve mathematics problems up to 10, then up to 20
  • count forwards and backwards up to 20, then up to 100
  • know the number before and the number after any given number
  • explore patterns, shapes and measurement
  • organise objects by colour, shape or size
  • talk about location, e.g., “I am in front of the tree”
  • find out interesting facts by asking and answering questions.

after 2 years at school

Reading

Your child is reading books at turquoise level on the colour wheel, both fiction and non-fiction. The text is longer and might include diagrams with labels. The books contain a mixture of familiar words, new words and descriptive language. Your child can read whole sentences without big pauses. They know how to interpret punctuation to make the reading smooth and interesting. They realise when they make a mistake, especially if the text doesn’t make sense. They can read silently, know whether the story is real or made up and are able to answer questions.

Writing

Your child is learning to:
  • write stories, simple instructions, simple descriptions
  • use full stops, question marks and capital letters
  • spell many words correctly
  • try writing new words using their knowledge of similar words
  • write longer sentences and use simple connecting words (“like”, “and”)

Maths

This is the type of problem your child solves to meet expectation: Here is a string of 12 sausages to feed 2 hungry dogs. Each dog should get the same number of sausages. How many will each dog get? Your child is learning to:
  • solve word problems using numbers up to 100
  • count in 2s, 5s and 10s, forwards and backwards
  • find ½ and ¼ of simple shapes and sets of things
  • ask and answer questions and display their findings in graph bars
  • give and follow directions
  • measure objects using their hands, feet or a pencil.

after 3 years at school

Reading

Your child is reading books at Gold level on the colour wheel. The text mentions places, events, topics and words that are unfamiliar. Your child uses sub-headings, text boxes, footnotes, glossaries, indexes, diagrams and maps to work out the meaning. Some pages have no pictures.

Writing

Your child can write about their experiences and ideas, and impart information. Their writing has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The sentences are simple and vary in length, and don’t start with the same word. The spelling is usually correct and the child tries to sound out how to spell words they don’t know. Punctuation appears more often.

Maths

Your child can break up numbers and move them around without counting. For example, 8 + 5 could become 8 + 2 + 3 (so that it’s easier to add). Your child is learning to:
  • explore patterns in numbers up to 1,000
  • use basic facts to solve problems
  • talk about fractions when sharing and exploring shapes
  • organise objects into groups
  • create and describe patterns
  • measure objects and time
  • give and follow directions
  • talk about the reasons why an event is likely to happen or not (probability).

by the end of year 4

(Note how this is different from ‘after 1, 2 or 3 years at school’)

Reading

Your child is reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction, choosing what they enjoy. They understand the text, absorb information and explore the less obvious ideas. Their reading is smooth, they can fix any mistakes.

Writing

Your child knows to suit their writing to the audience. They edit their writing to improve it, notice mistakes and correct them. They publish their writing in a variety of ways, including computers, cameras, illustrations and diagrams.

Maths

Your child solves problems using their understanding of numbers up to 1000, algebra, geometry, measurement and statistics, learning to:
  • use their knowledge of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 times tables
  • work with place value
  • find fractions of sets, shapes and quantities
  • make and continue patterns
  • sort objects simultaneously by two features (e.g., colour and size) and describe how they have been grouped
  • choose how to best measure length, area, volume, capacity, weight, temperature and time
  • use simple maps to show position and direction
  • talk about probabilities
  • make up questions to investigate (e.g., how many children in the class have dogs, cats, goldfish) then graph and discuss their findings.

by the end of year 5

Reading

Your child reads more, for learning and for pleasure, working out unfamiliar words with clues or context. They discuss the different levels of meaning in stories and how the author chose the words, places, characters and ideas.

Writing

Your child’s writing will reflect information, ideas and experiences. Their writing includes detailed descriptions and parts of speech such as similes. They can choose the best way to express their message and use detail to support main ideas. They organise their writing into paragraphs to group their ideas. Feedback from others helps them improve the clarity and impact of their writing.

Maths

Your child is solving problems involving several steps. They are learning to:
  • use basic facts to work out unknown facts
  • find fractions of sets, shapes and quantities
  • sort 2D and 3D shapes
  • describe the location of objects on maps using grid references and points of the compass
  • measure the size and capacity of objects
  • list all of the possible outcomes of a probability exercise
  • investigate questions, graph the information and discuss the data
  • use symmetry and reflection.

by the end of year 6

Reading

Your child is reading chapter books, non-fiction books, magazines and the Internet. Some of the books are the same as in Year 5, but your child will perform more complex tasks with these books in Year 6. They can find important ideas and information quickly by ‘skimming’ and ‘scanning’, using several sources to get all the information they need. They think about a story’s title and what it implies about the contents, remember what they already know about the topic, wonder what questions the book might answer, use speed reading, form an opinion and look for more information on the Internet.

Writing

Your child varies the type of writing to suits the audience, plans what they will write, organises their writing logically using paragraphs, headings, sub-headings, diagrams, pictures and captions. They choose words to suit the topic and to make people want to read their writing. They read their writing to make sure it makes sense, spell most words correctly and use appropriate punctuation.

Maths

Your child is learning to:
  • choose the best method to solve problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
  • use multiplication facts to solve fraction problems
  • sort, create and identify 2D and 3D shapes
  • measure time and find the area and volume of objects
  • use grid references on maps and points of the compass to give directions
  • draw objects from different view points
  • experiment to work out the likelihood of an event happening.

by the end of year 7

Reading

Your child can find, analyse, and pool information from an assortment of books and articles. They think up their own questions and find the answers in the text. They read a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction, with complicated plots, difficult themes and ideas. Most words they recognise automatically, others they work out using context, grammar and sounding out. They develop a personal response to the text and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

Writing

Your child can direct their writing towards a particular audience and achieve a prescribed purpose by structuring and planning their piece, using paragraphs that link main ideas and supporting details. Their sentences are grammatically correct and they employ a variety of language features (rhetorical questions, metaphors) and complex punctuation (semicolons). They spell correctly, using letter-sound knowledge, spelling rules and conventions, meaning of word parts and word origins, letter patterns. They revise, edit and proof-read as they write.

Maths

Your child is learning to:
  • solve problems involving decimals, with addition and subtraction (e.g., Tama has 4.95 litres of petrol in one can and 7.5 litres in the other can. How much petrol does he have altogether?)
  • apply multiplication methods to whole numbers and fractions
  • investigate and test mathematical rules
  • create tables, graphs and rules for repeating patterns
  • find perimeters, areas and volumes of shapes
  • explore probability, compare actual results with expected results.

by the end of year 8

Reading

The books may be the same as in year 7, but the tasks will be more complex. Your child reads books that need explanation, such as complicated plots, high-level (teenage) themes, and abstract ideas. They can choose the right skills and technologies (e.g., the Internet) to locate information. They use a growing range of strategies to help them work out more difficult words.

Writing

Your child can write about a topic in their own words. Their writing is clear and includes details to support the main points. They use complex sentences that are grammatically correct, understand basic punctuation and attempt to use some complex punctuation like colons and brackets.

Maths

Your child is learning to:
  • add and subtract decimals and integers
  • multiply and divide whole numbers and fractions (e.g., John has ordered 201 tennis balls. They are sold in cans of 3 balls. How many cans should he receive?)
  • graph linear and non-linear relationships
  • convert units of measure
  • calculate perimeters and areas of rectangles, parallelograms, triangles and volumes of cuboids
  • explore transformation of shapes
  • use fractions to discuss the likelihoods of outcomes involving chance.
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