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Cambridge Primary English
Curriculum outline


Cambridge Primary combines a world-class curriculum with high-quality support for teachers and integrated assessment. The curriculum is dedicated to helping schools develop learners who are confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged. Cambridge Primary has curriculum frameworks for English (including English as a Second Language), Mathematics and Science which have been designed to engage learners in an active and creative learning journey.


The curriculum frameworks for each subject for Cambridge Primary are organised into six stages. They reflect the teaching target for each year group and provide comprehensive learning objectives. For Cambridge Primary English, the curriculum is presented in five content areas or ‘strands’. These are further subdivided into ‘substrands’. The framework promotes an enquiry-based approach to learning to develop thinking skills and encourage intellectual engagement. The five strands and substrands are::

Phonics, spelling and vocabulary

Grammar and punctuation

  • Reading
  • Writing


  • Fiction and poetry
  • Non-fiction


  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Presentation

Speaking and listening

The curriculum aims to enable learners to communicate confidently and effectively and to develop critical skills in order to respond to a range of information, media and texts with enjoyment and understanding.

Learners who follow this framework will develop a firstlanguage competency in English based on a curriculum designed to be successful in any culture and to promote cross-cultural understanding.

The Cambridge Primary English curriculum framework provides a solid foundation on which the later stages of education can be built.


Cambridge Primary offers an optional testing structure to assess learner performance and report progress for both learners and parents. These assessments provide an international benchmark that enables teachers to identify learner strengths and weaknesses within individuals and class groups and develop further teaching and learning support using the information from the test results.


Cambridge Primary Progression Tests are available to schools registered for Cambridge Primary for stages 3–6. These tests are marked by teachers and come with full mark schemes and marking guidance. At the end of Cambridge Primary, schools can also offer Cambridge Primary Checkpoint, a diagnostic test which offers comprehensive feedback at the end of the Cambridge Primary stage.



Stage 1

Strand: Phonics, spelling and vocabulary

  • Hear, read and write initial letter sounds
  • Know the name and most common sound associated with every letter in the English alphabet
  • Identify separate sounds (phonemes) within words, which may be represented by more than one letter, e.g. ‘th’, ‘ch’, ‘sh’
  • Use knowledge of sounds to read and write singlesyllable words with short vowels
  • Blend to read, and segment to spell, words with final and initial adjacent consonants, e.g. b-l, n-d
  • Begin to learn common spellings of long vowel phonemes, e.g. ‘ee’, ‘ai’, ‘oo’
  • Use knowledge of sounds to write simple regular words, and to attempt other words
  • Spell familiar common words accurately, drawing on sight vocabulary
  • Use rhyme and relate this to spelling patterns
  • Recognise common word endings, e.g. -s, -ed and -ing.


Stage 3

Strand: Phonics, spelling and vocabulary

  • Use effective strategies to tackle blending unfamiliar words to read, including sounding out, separating into syllables, using analogy, identifying known suffixes and prefixes, using context
  • Use and spell compound words
  • Know irregular forms of common verbs
  • Use effective strategies to tackle segmenting unfamiliar words to spell, including segmenting into individual sounds, separating into syllables, using analogy, identifying known suffixes and prefixes, applying known spelling rules, visual memory, mnemonics
  • Learn rules for adding -ing, -ed, -s to verbs
  • Extend earlier work on prefixes and suffixes
  • Explore words that have the same spelling but different meanings (homonyms), e.g. form, wave.


Stage 5

Strand: Phonics, spelling and vocabulary

  • Investigate the spelling of word-final unstressed vowels, e.g. the unstressed ‘er’ at the end of butter and unstressed ‘ee’ at the end of city
  • Recognise a range of less common letter strings in words which may be pronounced differently
  • Spell and make correct use of possessive pronouns, e.g. their, theirs, my, mine
  • Identify ‘silent’ vowels in polysyllabic words, e.g. library, interest
  • Use effective strategies for learning new spellings and misspelt words
  • Learn spelling rules for words ending in -e and -y, e.g. take/taking, try/tries
  • Know rules for doubling consonants and investigate patterns in the use of single and double consonants, e.g. -full/-ful
  • Investigate spelling patterns for pluralisation, e.g. -s/-es, -y/-ies, -f/-ves
  • Extend earlier work on prefixes and suffixes, recognising that different spelling rules apply for suffixes which begin with vowels and those that begin with consonants
  • Investigate ways of creating opposites, e.g. un-, im- and comparatives, e.g. -er, -est
  • Revise grammatical homophones, e.g. they’re, their, there
  • Use dictionaries efficiently and carry out ICT spell checks
  • Identify unfamiliar words, explore definitions and use new words in context
  • Extend understanding of the use of adverbs to qualify verbs, e.g. in dialogue






  • Use a thesaurus to extend vocabulary and choice of words
  • Collect synonyms and opposites and investigate shades of meaning
  • Use known spellings to work out the spelling of related words
  • Identify word roots and derivations to support spelling and vocabulary, e.g. sign, signal, signature
  • Investigate the origin and appropriate use of idiomatic phrases.