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What is Key Stage 1? – an in-depth Look

Key Stage 1 (KS1) marks a pivotal phase in the educational journey of children aged 5 to 7 years in England. It is during this stage that foundational skills in reading, writing, numeracy, and scientific inquiry are laid down skills that are crucial for academic success and lifelong learning. This blog delves into the essence of KS1, exploring the curriculum, the significance of this educational stage, and how it prepares children for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The Importance of KS1

Key Stage 1 (KS1) is not just a transition from the play-based learning of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to a more structured educational environment it is a critical period for cognitive, social, and emotional development. The skills and knowledge acquired during this stage form the bedrock upon which future learning is built. Unlike the EYFS, which focuses on learning through play, KS1 introduces children to more formal learning methods while still allowing for creativity and exploration.

Also learn more about KS2 and KS3:

What is Key Stage 2? – an in-depth Look

What is Key Stage 3? – an in-depth Look

Compulsory Curriculum in KS1

The KS1 curriculum is designed to be broad and balanced, providing children with a solid foundation in essential subject areas:


KS1 focuses on nurturing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Phonics is emphasised to aid in reading fluency, alongside exercises that develop writing capabilities.


Children learn basic arithmetic, shapes, and measurements. The curriculum is designed to make maths relatable and engaging, using practical examples to teach problem-solving skills.


This introduces students to basic scientific concepts and the world around them. Through exploration and observation, children learn about plants, animals, materials, and physical processes.

In addition to these core subjects, children are also introduced to history, geography, computing, physical education (PE), art and design, and music, providing a well-rounded educational experience.

Optional Subjects and Enrichment Activities

Schools have the flexibility to introduce optional subjects to enrich the curriculum. These can include:

  • Foreign Languages – Introducing children to a new language can enhance cognitive development and cultural awareness.
  • PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, and Economic education) – This subject focuses on developing social skills, empathy, and self-care.
  • Citizenship – Taught to foster debate, critical thinking, and an understanding of democratic processes and values.

Focus on English and Literacy in KS1

The KS1 English curriculum is comprehensive, with a strong emphasis on developing the foundational skills necessary for literacy. Phonics is a key focus, helping children decode words for reading and spelling. Vocabulary expansion, grammar, and punctuation are also integral, setting the stage for proficient writing and communication skills.

Maths Curriculum Breakdown

KS1 maths is pivotal in developing number sense and an understanding of basic operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The curriculum encourages hands-on learning through practical activities, enabling children to see the relevance of maths in everyday life.

Science in KS1 – Fostering Curiosity

Science in KS1 is all about sparking curiosity and wonder about the natural world. Children learn through doing—observing seasonal changes, exploring the needs of plants and animals, and investigating materials. These early scientific inquiries lay the groundwork for a deeper understanding of scientific principles in later years.

Assessments and SATs in KS1

Assessment in KS1 is multifaceted, combining teacher observations and standardised tests known as SATs, which cover English and maths. These assessments are designed to gauge each child’s understanding and skills at the end of KS1, informing future teaching strategies and providing parents with insights into their child’s progress.

Preparing for KS1 SATs – Why You Might Want to Consider Private tutoring.

Supporting children through their KS1 SATs involves a balanced approach that includes practice, encouragement, and maintaining a positive attitude towards learning. Setting a good starting point for your child’s academics is crucial and you might need all the help you can get – ensure success in SATs, and more importantly – create good study habits for your child with Edumentors KS1 tutors who are highly qualified and can create personalised, enjoyable experiences for your child. Resources such as revision guides, practice papers, and educational games can make learning enjoyable and effective, helping children approach their SATs with confidence.


Key Stage 1 is more than just the first step in formal education it is a critical period of growth and development. By providing a supportive, engaging, and challenging environment, parents and educators can ensure that children build a strong foundation for future learning. Remember, the goal of KS1 is not only academic success but fostering a lifelong love of learning in every child.


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