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English: Age 10–11 (Year 6)


Year 6 will be a formative and exciting year for your child. Now that they are at the top of the school, they will be preparing for both SATs and secondary school in earnest, and they will develop much more independence and resilience over the year.

In English, your child will now be expected to understand how to use a full range of punctuation, to write with a wide variety of sentence structures, use powerful vocabulary, and to generally spell words accurately. They may well be fully independent readers, choosing their own books and non-fiction texts based on their own interests. The writing your child does at school will be increasingly confident and creative.

For more information, head over to our What to expect in Year 6 page.

How to help at home

There are a variety of simple things you can do at home to support your child’s developing English skills.

1. Continue to make time to read to your child as often as they will let you, or listen to books read aloud. This will support their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Talk about any new vocabulary that you come across – and use it together later. You can also discuss antonyms and synonyms for the new words.

2. Encourage your child to read as much as possible – seeing words in print really helps children to absorb correct spelling and grammar. Encourage them to be brave about their choices and try both fiction and non-fiction. Provide a range of reading opportunities such as magazines, leaflets, information on the internet. Talk about how these different text are presented.

3. Listen to your child read as often as possible. Try to read their school reading book as well as other books they have chosen for themselves. Even in Year 6, your child will benefit from your input and any discussions you might have together.

4. Practise spellings. Continue to help your child practise their weekly spelling words. See our Twelve tips for weekly spellings page for more ideas.

Print out and work on the Spelling word list for Year 5 and Year 6.

5. Create writing opportunities, such as mini non-fiction books, stories and graphic novels. Writing at home is a great way of practising writing, including using grammar and punctuation to create a particular effect. Ask them to tell you stories they have made up or to retell favourite or well-known tales or personal anecdotes.

Help them to find story inspiration from a wide range of sources: objects they find, places they visit, unusual real lives, superhero comics they’ve read, television programmes they’ve watched and so on.

For more ideas on writing stories, look at the Creative Writing section on the Kids Activities pages.

6. Encourage your child to talk to you. Discuss the style of talk and the vocabulary choices used when talking to different people.

7. Keep talking to your child and use interesting vocabulary as you do so. Model and discuss different formal or informal ways of talking.

8.Keep practising handwriting – provide your child with a final push to correct their handwriting if necessary.

What your child will learn

Follow the links below to find out more about how English is taught in Year 6:

Grammar & punctuation in Year 6 (age 10–11)

In Year 6, your child will learn to:
    • Understand and use the passive voice to change the focus of a sentence or in formal writing. In a passive sentence, the person or thing that is doing the verb is not as important as the person or thing that is having the verb done to it or them. For example:

      Active voice: The dog chewed the slipper.
      Passive voice: The slipper was chewed by the dog. or The slipper was chewed.
      Active voice: We added sodium to the beaker.
      Passive voice: Sodium was added to the beaker.

    • Understand the difference between informal language, the type of language we use in everyday speech, and formal language that we might use in presentations or in some forms of writing. Your child will learn to think about the purpose and audience of their writing and choose the right level of formality. As part of their work on formal and informal language, your child will learn about:

      Using the subjunctive form in formal writing, for example: ‘Were you to look at the numbers, you would see the problem.’ or ‘If you were to practise more, you would get better.’
      Using question tags in informal speech, for example: ‘That’s the right answer, isn’t it?’
      Using formal vocabulary, for example: inquire, recommend, assist.

    • Use different techniques to link ideas across paragraphs to give their writing cohesion. To help their writing flow, your child will be taught to use cohesive devices such as:

      Determiners (such as the, a/an, this, those, my, your, some, every) to explain exactly which thing is being talked about. For example: ‘some spiders are venomous’ or ‘that spider is venomous’.
      Pronouns (such as he, she, it, them) to avoid repetition. For example: ‘Liz was hungry so she made a sandwich.’
      Conjunctions (such as but, and, because) to link ideas together. For example: ‘I went to play football after I’d finished dinner.’ or ‘I asked him to move so I could see the sign.’
      Adverbials (for example ‘later that day,’ ‘when we’ve finished’) are phrases that work like adverbs to provide more information about a verb. Fronted adverbials are particularly useful for creating links between paragraphs, for example: ‘A few days later, he decided to try again.’ or ‘On the other hand, homework helps children to progress.’
      Ellipsis (missing out a word or phrase when the assumed meaning is obvious) can help text to flow. For example: ‘I wanted the red jumper, not the blue.’ rather than ‘I wanted the red jumper instead of the blue one.’

    • Use semi-colons, colons, and dashes to link sentences that are closely associated.

      A semi-colon is used to join two sentences that are to closely linked to be separate sentences. For example: ‘I’ll be there tomorrow; that’s a promise.’
      A colon can be used to join two sentences where the second idea is caused by the first. For example: ‘All the practice was worth it: the boy got full marks.’
      A dash can be used to replace a colon or a full-stop – particularly in informal writing. For example: ‘I’ll be there tomorrow – that’s a promise.’ or ‘All the practice was worth it – the boy got full marks.’

    • Use colons, semi-colons and commas when writing lists. Your child will practise using a colon to introduce a list and commas to separate items, for example:

      ‘Choose any of the following: sandwich, crisps, juice, water, apple, grapes and cake.’

      Your child will learn to use semi-colons to make longer lists easier to understand, for example:

      ‘The following Monday sports matches are taking place: the under-11s, under-12s and under-13s in rugby; the under-11s and under-13s in football; and the under-14s, under 15s and under-16s in hockey.’

    • Use hyphens to make their meaning clear.

      Hyphens can be used to make compound words, for example ‘man-eating tiger’ (rather than man eating tiger).
      Hyphens can be used with prefixes, for example to show the difference between ‘re-cover’ (cover again) and ‘recover’ (get better).

    • Use different ways of presenting non-fiction, for example by using headings, subheadings, captions, columns, bullet points, tables and so on.
    • Practice finding antonyms (opposites) and synonyms (words with similar meanings for words) for example, shouted, called, whispered, mumbled.

Spelling in Year 6 (age 10–11)

In Year 6, your child will continue to practise:
    • to spell words with silent letters, for example, doubt, island, lamb, solemn, thistle, knight
    • to spell words ending in ence/ance or able/ible
    • to spell more homophones and other confusing words

Year 5 and 6 homophones list

aisle/isle, aloud/allowed, affect/effect, altar/alter, ascent/assent, bridal/bridle, cereal/serial, compliment/complement, descent/dissent, desert/dessert, draft/draught, farther/further/father, guessed/guest, heard/herd, led/lead, morning/mourning, past/passed, precede/proceed, principal/principle, profit/prophet, stationary/stationery, steal/steel, wary/weary, who’s/whose

    • to talk about word families, for example, sign, design, signature, significant
    • to use a thesaurus to find new words
    • to use a dictionary to check their spelling
    • to spell the words in the Spelling word list for Year 5 and Year 6
Spelling books for age 10-11:

Writing in Year 6 (age 10–11)

In Year 6, your child will learn to:
    • decide who they are writing for and what this means for their writing
    • plan their writing before they start
    • choose the right style and structure to match the type of text they are writing
    • choose the right vocabulary and grammar for their writing
    • write a story with interesting vocabulary and dialogue
    • write non-fiction with features such as headings, captions, bullet points, subheadings, diagrams
    • use a consistent tense throughout their piece
    • check their own writing and the writing of their classmates, making useful comments.

More information and writing activity ideas for Year 6

Handwriting in Year 6 (age 10–11)

In Year 6, your child will build on their Year 5 handwriting skills and continue to develop fluent, joined-up writing. This includes:
    • writing neatly and clearly
    • deciding whether or not to join specific letters
    • choosing whether to use a pencil or a pen.
Handwriting practise activities:

For more information on skills taught throughout Primary School, check out our vocabulary page.