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Understanding the Difference: Key Stage 1 vs Key Stage 2 Literacy

Understanding the difference between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 literacy is crucial for educators. As pupils progress through their primary education, their literacy skills evolve and require different approaches and resources. In this guide, we will explore the key differences between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 literacy and highlight the importance of this understanding.

Key Stage 1 Literacy

child reading dr seussKey Stage 1 literacy focuses on building foundational skills and phonics. During this stage, children learn to read and write simple words and sentences. The emphasis is on developing fluency in reading, understanding basic grammar and punctuation, and building a solid vocabulary. Teachers use interactive activities, storytelling, and phonics-based approaches to engage young learners and lay the foundation for literacy success.

Activities in Key Stage 1 literacy include daily reading practice, phonics lessons, guided writing, and storytelling. The goals are to ensure pupils can decode words, understand basic sentence structures, and express their ideas through writing. Through these activities, children develop their reading comprehension, phonological awareness, and beginning writing skills.

Key Stage 2 Literacy

Key Stage 2 literacy builds upon the skills acquired in Key Stage 1 and introduces more complex concepts. Pupils start exploring different genres of literature, analysing texts, and developing their writing skills further. Reading comprehension becomes more advanced, and children are encouraged to think critically and independently about the texts they read.

In Key Stage 2, pupils begin to refine their writing skills by focusing on sentence structure, paragraph development, and using appropriate punctuation. They learn to write different types of texts, including narratives, persuasive essays, and informational pieces. Grammar and vocabulary become more important, and pupils are exposed to literary devices such as similes, metaphors, and personification.

Transition and Collaboration

Small Book StackWhen transitioning from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 literacy, teachers need to adapt their teaching methods and resources to meet the changing needs of their pupils. The focus shifts from basic skills to more complex concepts and higher-order thinking. Teachers may introduce more independent reading, group discussions, and writing workshops to encourage critical thinking and creativity in their pupils.

Assessment methods may also differ between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 literacy. While Key Stage 1 assessments are often informal and formative, Key Stage 2 assessments may include more formal exams and standardised tests. It is essential for educators to be aware of these differences and prepare their pupils accordingly.

Collaboration between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teachers is crucial to ensure a smooth transition and continuity in literacy education. Sharing insights, resources, and pupil progress can help create a seamless learning experience for pupils and support their ongoing literacy development.


A well-rounded literacy education in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 sets a strong foundation for future academic success. Understanding the differences between these two stages allows educators to tailor their teaching methods, resources, and assessments effectively. By adapting to the changing needs of their students and promoting collaboration between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teachers, educators can ensure a seamless transition and provide a stimulating and engaging learning environment for literacy development.

Looking for a fun and interactive resource to engage your Key Stage One pupils?

Look no further than Mighty Writer!

Invented by Emma Ralph, a former primary head teacher and SENCo, Mighty Writer is a hands-on approach to teaching literacy skills, including storytelling, writing and rewriting sentences and grammar!

Ready to learn more? Click Below!

What is Mighty Writer?

Alternatively, you can book a live demonstration with Emma for your SLT at a time that suits you! Access her calendar here!