Mathematics in Year 5

During the years of upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5 and Year 6), children use their knowledge of number bonds and multiplication tables to tackle more complex problems, including larger multiplication and division, and meeting new material. In Year 5, this includes more work on calculations with fractions and decimals, and using considerably larger numbers than previously.

Number and Place Value

  • Recognise and use the place value of digits in numbers up to 1 million (1,000,000)
  • Use negative numbers, including in contexts such as temperature
  • Round any number to the nearest 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000
  • Read Roman numerals, including years


  • Carry out addition and subtraction with numbers larger than four digits
  • Use rounding to estimate calculations and check answers are of a reasonable size
  • Find factors of multiples of numbers, including finding common factors of two numbers
  • Know the prime numbers up to 19 by heart, and find primes up to 100
  • Use the standard methods of long multiplication and short division
  • Multiply and divide numbers mentally by 10, 100 or 1,000
  • Recognise and use square numbers and cube numbers
Factors are numbers which multiply to make a product, for example 2 and 9 are factors of 18. Common factors are numbers which are factors of two other numbers, for example 3 is a factor of both 6 and 18.

Fractions and Decimals

  • Put fractions with the same denominator into size order, for example recognising that 3/5 is larger than 2/5
  • Find equivalents of common fractions
  • Convert between improper fractions and mixed numbers, for example recognising that 5/4 is equal to 11/4
  • Add and subtract simple fractions with related denominators, for example 2/3 + 1/6 = 5/6
  • Convert decimals to fractions, for example converting 0.71 to 71/100
  • Round decimals to the nearest tenth
  • Put decimals with up to three decimal places into size order
  • Begin to use the % symbol to relate to the ‘number of parts per hundred’
In a fraction, the numerator is the number on top; the denominator is the number on the bottom.


  • Convert between metric units, such as centimetres to metres or grams to kilograms
  • Use common approximate equivalences for imperial measures, such as 2.5cm = 1 inch
  • Calculate the area of rectangles using square centimetres or square metres
  • Calculate the area of shapes made up of rectangles
  • Estimate volume (in cm3) and capacity (in ml)

Shape and Position

  • Estimate and compare angles, and measure them to the nearest degree
  • Know that angles on a straight line add up to 180°, and angles around a point add up to 360°
  • Use reflection and translation to change the position of a shape

Graphs and Data

  • Read and understand information presented in tables, including timetables
  • Solve problems by finding information from a line graph

Parent Tip

Much of the knowledge in Year 5 relies on number facts being easily recalled. For example, to find common factors or to make simple conversions, knowledge of multiplication tables is essential. Any practice at home to keep these skills sharp will certainly be appreciated by your child’s class teacher!

English in Year 5 and Year 6

In upper Key Stage 2, your child will increasingly meet a wider range of texts and types of writing, and will be encouraged to use their skills in a broader range of contexts. Their knowledge of grammar will also increase as they prepare for the National Curriculum Tests to be taken in the summer term of Year 6.

Year 6 children will take a reading test of about one hour, a grammar and punctuation test of about forty-five minutes, and a spelling test of twenty words. These will be sent away for marking, with the results coming back before the end of the year. Your child’s teacher will also make an assessment of whether or not your child has reached the expected standard by the end of the Key Stage.

Speaking and Listening

The Spoken Language objectives are set out for the whole of primary school, and teachers will cover many of them every year as children’s spoken language skills develop. In Years 5 and 6, some focuses may include:

  • Speak clearly in a range of contexts, using Standard English where appropriate
  • Monitor the reactions of listeners and react accordingly
  • Consider different viewpoints, listening to others and responding with relevant views
  • Use appropriate language, tone and vocabulary for different purposes

Reading Skills

  • Read a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays and reference books
  • Learn a range of poetry by heart
  • Perform plays and poems using tone, volume and intonation to convey meaning
  • Use knowledge of spelling patterns and related words to read aloud and understand new words
  • Make comparisons between different books, or parts of the same book
  • Read a range of modern fiction, classic fiction and books from other cultures and traditions
  • Identify and discuss themes and conventions across a wide range of writing
  • Discuss understanding of texts, including exploring the meaning of words in context
  • Ask questions to improve understanding of texts
  • Summarise ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details
  • Predict future events from details either written in a text or by ‘reading between the lines’
  • Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
  • Discuss how authors use language, including figurative language, to affect the reader
  • Make book recommendations, giving reasons for choices
  • Participate in discussions about books, building on and challenging ideas
  • Explain and discuss understanding of reading
  • Participate in formal presentations and debates about reading
  • Provide reasoned justifications for views
Figurative language includes metaphorical phrases such as ‘raining cats and dogs’ or ‘an iron fist’, as well as using language to convey meaning, for example by describing the Sun as ‘gazing down’ upon a scene.

Themes & Conventions

As children’s experience of a range of texts broadens, they may begin to notice conventions, such as the use of first person for diary-writing, or themes such as heroism or quests.

Writing Skills

  • Write with increasing speed, maintaining legibility and style
  • Spell some words with silent letters, such as knight and solemn
  • Recognise and use spellings for homophones and other often-confused words from the Y5/6 list
  • Use a dictionary to check spelling and meaning
  • Identify the audience and purpose before writing, and adapt accordingly
  • Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary to change or enhance meaning
  • Develop setting, atmosphere and character, including through dialogue
  • Write a summary of longer passages of writing
  • Use a range of cohesive devices
  • Use advanced organisational and presentational devices, such as bullet points
  • Use the correct tense consistently throughout a piece of writing
  • Ensure correct subject and verb agreement
  • Perform compositions using appropriate intonation, volume and movement
  • Use a thesaurus
  • Use expanded noun phrases to convey complicated information concisely
  • Use modal verbs or adverbs to indicate degrees of possibility
  • Use relative clauses
  • Recognise vocabulary and structures that are appropriate for formal use
  • Use passive verbs to affect the presentation of information
  • Use the perfect form of verbs to mark relationships of time and cause
  • Recognise the difference in informal and formal language
  • Use grammatical connections and adverbials for cohesion
  • Use ellipses, commas, brackets and dashes in writing
  • Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity
  • Use semi-colons, colons and dashes between independent clauses
  • Use a colon to introduce a list
  • Punctuate bullet points consistently
Cohesive devices are words or phrases used to link different parts of writing together. These may be pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘it’ to avoid repeating a name, or phrases such as ‘After that...’ or ‘Meanwhile’ to guide the reader through the text.

Grammar Help

For many parents, the grammatical terminology used in schools may not be familiar. Here are some useful reminders of some of the terms used:

  • Noun phrase: a group of words which takes the place of a single noun. Example: The big brown dog with the fluffy ears.
  • Modal verb: a verb that indicates possibility. These are often used alongside other verbs. Example: will, may, should, can.
  • Relative clause: a clause which adds extra information or detail. Example: The boy who was holding the golden ticket won the prize.
  • Passive verb: a form of verb that implies an action being done to, rather than by, the subject. Example: The boy was bitten by the dog.
  • Perfect form: a form of verb that implies that an action is completed. Example: The boy has walked home.

Parent Tip

As children get older, they will increasingly take responsibility for their own work and homework tasks. That’s not to say that parents can’t help though. Encourage your child to work independently on their homework, but also take the opportunity to discuss it with them and to have them explain their understanding to you.

Science in Year 5

As children get older, they begin to meet more abstract concepts in science – things which are not so easily tested in the classroom, such as the bodies of the solar system, or changes of state. They will continue to carry out experiments but may also use more secondary resources for research or investigation.

Scientific Investigation

Investigation work should form part of the broader science curriculum. During Year 5, some of the skills your child might focus on include:

  • Plan different types of scientific investigation, including controlling variables
  • Take measurements with increasing accuracy and precision
  • Record data and results using diagrams, labels, keys, tables and graphs
  • Use test results to make predictions and to set up more testing
  • Identify the evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas

Living Things and their Habitats

  • Describe the differences in the life cycles of a mammal, an amphibian, an insect and a bird
  • Describe the life processes of reproduction in some plants and animals
Life cycles include different stages for the main vertebrate groups, such as eggs, larvae and pupae. These can be seen in tadpoles and frogs, caterpillars and butterflies, and of course the chicken and the egg.

Animals including Humans

  • Describe the changes as humans develop to old age, including puberty

Properties and Changes of Materials

  • Compare the various properties of materials such as hardness, solubility and conductivity
  • Use knowledge of solids, liquids and gases to separate mixtures and solutions through filtering or evaporation
  • Know that dissolving, mixing and changes of state are reversible changes
  • Know that some changes cannot be reversed, such as burning, rusting or chemical reactions

Earth and Space

  • Describe the movement of the planets, including Earth, around the Sun
  • Describe the movement of the Moon around the Earth
  • Use these ideas to explain how day and night occur, and why the Sun appears to move across the sky
Since 2006, scientists have defined Pluto as only a dwarf planet. Consequently, children are now taught that there are only eight planets orbiting the Sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), although many will also explain the history of Pluto’s past.


  • Explain that gravity is a force which acts on objects pulling them towards the Earth
  • Identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction
  • Recognise that some mechanisms, such as levers, pulleys and gears, can be used to increase the work of a force

Parent Tip

Plenty of exciting experiments can take place at home looking at reversible and irreversible changes. Try searching online for the ‘vinegar bomb’ experiment, or the now-famous ‘Coke and Mentos’ experiment.

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