should I be worried to not know any details of my children levels or what is expected progress for their ages?

(143 Posts)
educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 16:52:43

I recently came over to this section and ever since all I've done is worry

With all the talk of levels and book bands etc.

Is it unusual for a parent to not know their child's level...keep seeing this 2a etc popping up.

The teachers assure me that the children are doing well at parent evening, but how would I know. I've always liked the school and assumed I would know if something was wrong.

Now I feel like I know nothing, and would struggle to know what is the norm, and he things are ok!?

jrrtolkien Sun 17-Feb-13 21:56:33

well I know what levels my DC are on, how to interpret that info against national expected levels and what their teachers general views are.
If I hadn't read up on all this then I wouldn't have been able ti make head nor tail of the school reports or the teachers remarks at parents nights.
Teachers are human beings with their own private opinions and expectations so what one might say is adequate progress, another might consider very ambitious.
The NC levels are far from a perfect description of academic attainment but at least they are objective measures rather than subjective opinions.

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 22:15:48

Well put that is how I feel - that a teachers opinion that my child is fine is all well and good but I would like something that demonstrates that she is progressing ok.

survivingwinter Sun 17-Feb-13 22:23:44

A few years ago I would have agreed levels etc were not important further down the school but after being told until yr 3 all was well with DS we suddenly find out he's 2 NC levels behind and on an IEP!! Since then I've asked about levels at every parents eve for both my kids. I don't want to get hit with anything else I wasn't aware of.

Not sure how 'normal' that situation was though OP so not trying to concern you. Just think there is no harm in asking!

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 00:04:21

If your daughter is reading turquoise level books or their equivalent then her reading is pretty good. What kinds of things does she like? Would she like the Rainbow Fairies books? She could doubtless read Beatrix Potter but would she enjoy it? She could read Enid Blyton. The Rainbow Fairies books differ in length and font size. I'm not sure about the complexity of the language. (I've only skimmed through them.) Winnie the Pooh series books would be good too. If you haven't read them all to her Judith Kerr books would go down well I'm sure. If you can find a series which uses reasonably complex language and is of interest to children then I think you've a good chance of extending her reading without tears and with enjoyment.

PastSellByDate Mon 18-Feb-13 06:44:36

educator123:

The Mumsnet Learning pages will explain NC Levels and the progress through these levels. National Curriculum Levels (NC Levels) only apply from Year 1 onwards. link here: www.mumsnet.com/learning/assessment/progress-through-national-curriculum-levels but have a look through all articles under Assessment on the Mumsnet Learning pages.

So your DD in Year R will be working to the Early Years Foundation Satge (EYFS) curriculum - which is marked on a different scale.

At the end of Y2 by law schools are required to report to parents the SATs results, which are primarily teacher assessments of the level your child is working at.

In 2014 the government is going to be rolling out a new curriculum for both primary and secondary (senior) schools. Info here: https://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/a00210036/sosletter. This is still in 'draft' and the government is asking for feedback. There also is a long feed about this here on MN: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/1680506-primary-education

This whole issue of whether parents should or shouldn't be told about how their children are doing in terms of national curriculum levels is quite vexed. Teachers don't want to upset parents or want parents bragging, so they try to avoid saying too much (or are instructed not to say much - can be school policy) and parents are very naturally curious to know how their child is doing.

Beign foreign, I'm used to report cards (educated in another country) so I find it bizarre that data held on our children isn't reported to the legal guardian. If the school refuses you are well within your right to take out an Freedom of Information request and any expenses would have to be ultimately covered by the school, because legally they cannot without the information from a legal guardian (like medical information).

So if you're personally unhappy about the information you are given regarding your child's progress - then just ask for the information. I found e-mailing the school and outright saying at Parents evening this week, I'd like to be informed about how my child is progressing against NC Levels. Most schools realise refusing that request would be unreasonable.

Now in terms of what your child should be learning the draft national curriculum documents have specific proposed plans for each year in some subject areas like maths and english (see link above). Alternatively you can visit Campaign for real education which has a summary of what should notionally be covered in an ideal world: www.cre.org.uk/primary_contents.html

I realise it can be intimidating to ask a teacher or the Head for this information, but I tend to look at it as teachers are public servants and the data they are generating on our children (and there's tons - see discussion on stressed teachers for example) is paid for with taxpayers' money and each parent/ carer has a legal right to full access to any data held on their child. So there's no point being worried about your right to the data.

HTH

Ruprekt Mon 18-Feb-13 08:56:08

DS1 (Y6) has been aware of his own levels since Y3 when the teachers started telling them.

I think the children should know which level they are on as it gives them something to work towards and they know where they need to work harder.

I realise not everyone will agree with that esp if their child struggles with aspects of learning.

DS2 is Y3 and is starting to understand what the levels mean.

educator123 Mon 18-Feb-13 09:51:04

Thanks all, lots to be getting on with smile

Although I did enjoy not worrying before!

Learnandsay - thank you for the book suggestion as the school only provide the prehistoric JP which can be a bit dull.

She is reading a Enid Blyton book atm and desperate to read it every night, but although she can read it I think it's maybe a little to advanced as I don't think she is getting it comprehension wise.

So definitely on a search for something that clicks that she would enjoy and also be able to read without me, if she wanted to.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 10:49:29

Educator - my DD is finding Rainbow Fairies a bit too hard just yet but she is very into Mercy Watson chapter books ATM and will give Roald Dahl a go soon (The Twits).

Also check out Frog and Toad (they are fab).

Ruprekt Mon 18-Feb-13 12:39:03

Try flat Stanley too. Both my boys loved these books.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 14:41:48

I've got a copy of The Twits. I was thinking of leaving it till next year. Educator's daughter is 6/7 mine is 4 1/2. Comprehension wise and length wise I think Ladybird classic fairy tales are about right. My daughter is approaching the stage where she can decode pretty much anything but she doesn't comprehend much of the vocabulary that she's decoding. Storywise we've only stuck to things which are pretty self explanatory.

There are so many stages to learning to read. If schools are going to "do phonics" I can't see why they don't get decoding off pat straight away and go into vocab, comprehension and punctuation afterwards or all at the same time. Why carry on decoding simple books for ages?

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 15:05:00

learnandsay they do do vocabulary, comprehension and punctuation at the same time. It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 15:17:26

DD had a lesson the last day of last half term on story structure (beginning, middle and ending of stories). Which the whole class did, not just her obviously!!

I guess a lot of kids don't get the practise at home (phonics wise) or find it tougher than others (kids would be very boring if they were all the same!!

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 15:23:04

simpson that is a very normal story writing activity

Rollergirl1 Mon 18-Feb-13 15:32:12

My DD is 6 and in Yr2. She is on Gold level for reading. The books she reads herself are Rainbow Magic (although she does find these very sandy), Horrid Henry and Roald Dahl. She also really enjoyed reading Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree collection. The stories in those are probably slightly less complex in terms of comprehension so might suit a slightly younger reader.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 15:38:02

Mrz - exactly that is my point, that everything is not just about decoding iyswim. Writing stories is all about comprehension too. They were read a story and talked about how it was structured.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 15:40:47

Exactly simpson yet so many people have the false belief that phonics is taught in a vacuum, when literacy teaching is so much more.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 15:45:02

DD has already been taught what the blurb, front cover, back cover, spine, how to find the illustrator's name and the author's name on a book.

The kids were also taught how to hold a book the right way up shock

educator123 Mon 18-Feb-13 16:20:47

Well Dd2 is in reception and is already talking to me about adjectives and can't wait to read her reading books (despite claiming to hate school)

Dd1 seemed to struggle with the reading, I think somewhere her confidence was knocked and it put her right off. She is really into it atm so I want to make sure she got some books she really enjoys and wants to read to boost the confidence.

Mrz - do you think she is doing ok reading wise for her age (6.5) JP blue books are now fluent and she is just coming to the end and like I say has been reading an Enid Blyton book last week, but comprehension is lacking. She just found it on our shelf and is determined to read it!!

Learnandsay your daughter sounds quite advanced I honestly could have never even considered The Twits as 4.5years or 5.5!

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 16:31:30

Yes educator from what you write it sounds as if your daughter is doing well with her reading. I would read the Enid Blyton with her and then you can help with the understanding. Much more sensible than rushing to more difficult books just because she can decode the words and much more fun to be got from sharing.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 16:37:12

I'm not sure if she's advanced or not. She understands about the same amount as any other four year old. She can just decode well because she's been doing it for ages. I'm concentrating on polishing her decoding skills so that (within reason) she can decode pretty much anything that you put in front of her. But when she can sound out/read "polythene," "penicillin," and "Vegemite" she still doesn't know what they mean. My reasoning is: If you're going to teach them to decode you might as well teach them all of it.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 16:45:14

and if the school is teaching phonics correctly she will be taught it all ...however it may be a bigger/longer job than you seem to think.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 17:11:04

DD read a book today and consistently got the characters name wrong throughout the whole book. She read Alice as Al ice every time!!

Considering they are learning phonics until yr2 (and then on recapping) it must take a good while!!grin

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 17:21:18

If she hasn't been taught that <ce> is a spelling for the sound "s" (probably taught in Y1 - my class met "Alice" last week) then she may well try to use the word "ice" it's why onset and rime is no longer taught in most UK schools

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 17:33:45

She was doing yr1 phonics with a TA and was about to start phase 6 after Easter. But that has all stopped sad

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 17:42:34

Phase 6 doesn't teach any new ways to spell the sounds so I wouldn't worry ... perhaps check which spellings she needs to go over

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