A parent's guide to Key Stage 2 learning & tuition

Is your child in Key Stage 2? Find out what to expect and how you can help on this part of their school journey.

Key Stage 2 (KS2) is the National curriculum delivered to pupils in England during Year 3,4, 5 and 6 (ages 7-11) and a very important part of primary school. It covers lots of different topics including art, computing, geography, history, RE, foreign languages, PE and, of course, English, maths and science. Your child is going to learn a lot and hopefully really enjoy the experience.

It’s fair to say that there is a strong focus on maths and English. This is for good reason as these subjects are gateways to so much of the learning that will come in the future. So, by the end of Year 6, the goal is for all children to have a secure understanding of English and maths and that is what the KS2 exams (SATs) are testing for. This all sounds good, but what does it actually look like for us, as parents, supporting our children at home?

In the guide below, you’ll find some key things to look out for and ideas of how to help;

Key Stage 2 Maths

The skill that will help your child most in their maths lessons during Key Stage 2 is fluency. Maths fluency means that you can complete calculations quickly and confidently. Here are some examples:

  • Knowing all your times tables up to 12×12 is really important and something that the government now tests for at the end of year 4 when students sit the Multiplication Tables Check (MTC).

  • Being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers up to the thousands confidently.

  • Knowing the sums of all the numbers up to 10 e.g. 6 + 7 = 13, 8 + 4 = 12 will make addition sums really speedy. Equally, knowing all the combinations of subtractions from 20 down will help taking away feel like a doddle! E.g. 13 – 8 = 5, 11 – 7 = 4.

  • Being able to read and write numbers up to 10,000,000.

  • Using mental maths strategies such as rounding numbers to the nearest 10 or 100 to make good estimations.


Check out our range of maths lessons and parent advice from mathematician Bobby Seagull. 


Ways to build maths fluency

Practice makes perfect when it comes to fluency. It may feel a bit repetitive and boring but each time we encounter a question, we build pathways in our brain to help us remember the information in the future. For those sums to be quickly accessible, we need to revisit things regularly otherwise the speed that our brain needs to figure them out slows down.

You don’t have to practice a vast number of sums a day to see results, though. How about setting a challenge to do 10 sums every day? If you find some sums tricky, like that pesky 8 x 7 = 56, then keep that on the list until you’ve got it. Vary the list so you include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 

Try this:

  1. 6 x 7 =

  2. 72 ÷ 9 =

  3. 5 + 7 =

  4. 14 – 8 =

  5. 4 x 12 =

  6. 36 ÷ 4 =

  7. 6 + 8 =

  8. 11 – 3 =

  9. 7 x 4 =

  10. 21 ÷ 3 =


For more learning inspiration, visit our selection of free learning resources.

Key Stage 2 English

Fluency in English is also a skill you should pay close attention to and one that will most help your child during these years. English fluency means that you can speak, read and write confidently with good understanding. Some examples of this:

  • Reading a page of a story and being able to answer some questions about it.

  • Retelling a story in their own words without changing the overall meaning.

  • Writing about an event and describing what happened, what things looked like, how it made you feel.

  • Writing in a way that someone can understand your message clearly. This means having legible handwriting and using the right vocabulary.


Ways to build English fluency

Your teachers will tell you that for children of primary age, reading every day is the single most important thing you can do to help your child. This is so true. Whether you are reading to your child or they are reading to you, this exercise will help them develop their vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation and general awareness of grammar. It doesn’t have to be for long, but it is really good to read different types of material so your child is exposed to the widest possible range of vocabulary. 

Read a few pages of a novel one day, a magazine or news article the next, and information text the following day or listen to an audiobook. Doing this every day for 20 minutes will have a huge impact, but if you want to take it a step further, ask your child to highlight or write down any words that they don’t know and you can look up the meanings together. Maybe even set a challenge for them to use the word in a sentence during the day.

Key Stage 2 exams

The final year of Key Stage 2 introduces formal exams taken under exam conditions;

Year 6 SATs

Your child will sit their KS2 SATs towards the end of year 6. There are a number of elements to the KS2 SATs tests, including English reading, maths and spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Key Stage 2 SATs results are generally only used by your child’s secondary school and teachers will be told their incoming pupils’ SATs scaled scores. The way these scores will be used will vary between schools; some will use scaled scores to set year 7 pupils in maths and English, others may use a combination of SATs results and year 7 CATs (Cognitive Ability Tests) or their own internal tests at the start of secondary school.

Preparation for 11 Plus

If you live in an area with grammar and independent schools, then you’ll know that the end of Key Stage 2 also coincides with the 11 Plus and common entrance exams. You’ll be happy to hear that all the same maths and English fluency skills needed to succeed in Key Stage 2 and the KS2 SATs are equally important for passing the 11 Plus. 

Practising these skills creates a solid foundation for success in the 11 Plus. Some 11 Plus exams extend beyond maths and English skills to include other measures of intelligence such as spatial reasoning. These are skills that can be supported and developed with materials at home or with 11 Plus tuition lessons with providers such as Explore Learning. 

Tuition to support Key Stage 2 learning

The journey through Key Stage 2 should be a rich and fulfilling learning experience for your child. If you’re concerned that this isn’t the case for your child, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your primary teachers at school about any problems and try out some different solutions with your child. 

Tuition can be a wonderful complement to the work your child is doing at school and with you at home. Done in the right way, it will support your child’s development of maths and English fluency throughout Key Stage 2. 

At Explore Learning, we promote regular practice of core skills with stimulating material that is designed to meet your child’s unique abilities. Our innovative curriculum tool, Compass, allows our expert tutors to create a bespoke learning pathway for each child. Focusing on the skills they need to know when they need to know them. 

Children receive one or two hours of tutor-led instruction each week (in centre or online tuition), alongside having access to their learning programme whenever they need it at home. Doing a short 15 minute session on Compass each day can help keep those maths and English skills on top form whilst our tutors can support any areas of difficulty your child may find along the way.

Ensure your child is Key Stage 2 ready and feels prepared for SATs and secondary school entrance exams with our expert tutors. Find maths and English tuition near you.

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