Do some schools hold some dc's back so others catch up?

(112 Posts)
Whitecup Wed 06-Feb-13 21:12:15

Evening

My reception age dd is reading at red level. She wasn't a great reader when she started school. However she's really clicked with it, got the bug and went from red to pink in a month (oct). She's now a cracking little reader and I'm thinking she's probably ready to go yellow (she reads level 3/4 ORT books at home). So today I went in to school to change her books (she's read 4 red books this week changed by school) and have a nosey at a yellow book to see what they involved so I could put my case forward to the CT. I was shocked to see only red and pink books available. I noticed in her reading diary that she's not read a book with the CT or a TA, but to volunteer mums, this calendar year which also disappoints me as surely the TA/CT need to hear a child read to establish the level.

Do some schools play the catch up game to get all children to a certain level? Is there any benefit to this? Thanks

RustyBear Wed 06-Feb-13 21:16:47

The school may not have space or funds to keep a wide enough variety of books at every level in every classroom - the higher level books may be kept elsewhere and children on these levels visit the relevant classroom to change their book.

CoffeeandDunkingBiscuits Wed 06-Feb-13 21:18:27

What rusty said. My son visits another classroom to get his.

toomuchicecream Wed 06-Feb-13 21:19:09

Never heard of it happening. Why would you? What difference does it make? If she's reading that far ahead of the rest of the class then she could be put with year 1 for guided reading if it was really a problem. Are you sure the yellow books weren't round the corner in the next section? Or outside year 1? Or the basket had been taken into the classroom to sort out? At my last school, not only did the reception teacher venture out to the "main" reading book library for one of her pupils, she also was quite careful about which ones she selected so they were age/content appropriate.

GingerbreadGretel Wed 06-Feb-13 21:20:02

I work in a school. The higher level readers get taken (by me) to another class to change their books.

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 06-Feb-13 21:21:29

There must be higher level books somewhere in the classroom!

Why not just ask the teacher to assess her reading and see if she is ready for higher level books?

Whitecup Wed 06-Feb-13 21:24:30

Never really thought about that I just (wrongly) assumed pink- yellow were reception age books so they'd all be in the same place. I'll have a word with the teacher and ask her to listen to her read when she gets chance. Thanks everyone x

socharlottet Wed 06-Feb-13 21:24:36

They will go to another classroom to get them.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 21:25:02

I've only read one comment, I think on mumsnet, where a teacher is reported to have said, "the children all need to move up the book bands together." But there is a reasonable suspicion that this was in fact a fob off and the teacher didn't really mean it.

My daughter could already read Dr Seuss, Little Bear, and some poetry books in nursery. But she doesn't seem to have progressed at all in school. In fact, in some respects she seems to have gone backwards. Some of the yellow books that she's being sent home with are easier than things that she was reading when she was three. But she was a whole word reader when she was three. And she only started sounding out a few months before school started. It would appear that some schools may not build on what children already know and just start again from scratch.

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 21:48:01

DD goes to another year group to get her books (she is in reception).

Her class have ORT (and other books) up to level 4 in the classroom but the year 1 classroom is opposite so can easily get higher books.

The majority of the kids are on red ATM (which is good considering in yr1 there is no one over blue level) so I suspect they will ask for higher level books to be put into the classroom when they are needed.

Do I believe that some teachers try and keep the class together in terms of reading levels? Unfortunately yes I do (I went through it with DS in KS1 - but things improve massively in KS2).

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 21:56:02

simpson. my dear, are you really saying that you think some teachers hold children back on purpose? I can understand children getting overlooked because the way they read is "just not the way we do things", or some kind of procedural mistake. But to hold a child back that you know is capable of going forward?!

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 22:02:04

If a teacher did this she would be in big trouble if OFSTED came.

Whitecup Wed 06-Feb-13 22:03:54

I think I'd be less worried if I was looking in her class for say a Blue book but surely at reception age there would be several yellow readers- wouldn't there??

ceebeegeebies Wed 06-Feb-13 22:07:54

I know it is a different subject but my DS1 and a few of his classmates are more advanced in maths than the rest of the class - they get taken out of the class once a week to have different maths lessons. It started as a small group of 5 of them but is now about 10 I think as others are catching up.

My understanding is that the teacher needs to teach at the pupil's level in whatever way they can.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 22:10:56

I think it must depend on the school. Some schools seem to start off with wordless books. They may take longer to get a whole class reading. Some schools have nurseries where children have already read and progress through Reception. Those children are doubtless further on than wordless books anyway! And I'm sure there are some schools who take work parents have done prior to school into account. So, it's probably a mixed picture. But wordless books are probably a surprise to a lot of parents.

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 22:18:59

I do believe that DS was kept back yes, for whatever reason I do not know.

It could be because they were lazy refused to get books from KS2 (separate building but part of the same school) for him and had him on ORT7 when he was reading The Secret 7 at home.

His yr1 teacher (who was very nice) said that he did not want to rush DS through the books as he would run out in yr2. hmm

This has already been voiced by DD's reception teacher (that they are worried about running out of books). It did not go down well with me,but luckily I do get on with her teacher so felt able to talk about it and say I would rather provide books for her if that is the case.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 22:25:56

I have to say this because it has cropped up in a few threads, some teachers do seem to have said to parents "the books will run out."

This is wrong-headed. It may be a genuine concern for the teacher. But if he or she is really worried that the correct books are going to run out then

(i) use a local library card
(ii) get the parent to use a library card
(iii) borrow books or ask the parent to borrow books
(iv) buy second hand books
(v) write the words on A4 paper and staple them together

But please don't hold a child's reading back because you think you're going to run out of books. Your fear may be well-founded. But this world is bursting with books.

pigleychez Wed 06-Feb-13 22:27:09

Not sure about levels as such as they dont really follow them in reception but at home DD is confidently reading ORT level 6.

There are only about 4 books at that kinda level in the classroom book trolley so will be in a similar postion to you in asking for harder ones. I guess as others have said she will either choose books from the next class up's book or from the library.

I understand your worries though as they only tend to do group reading with the CT and these books are very basic for DD and she has said they are boring and from the CT's comments in her reading record she too knows this. We've told DD that next time she needs to ask for a harder book.
Its something I plan to bring up at the parents evening coming up soon if shes doesn't progress to more appropriate books. I can also see it benefits the other children reading in a group with a more confident reader but a balance would be good.

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 22:27:20

It's one of those things that I find myself thinking just must be a misunderstanding.

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 22:36:20

I have sooo many books at home (I currently provide DS's reading books for school) so I have loads of books for DD if need be.

DS IMO had such a pants reception year it makes me really appreciate DD's teacher really.

Pigley/OP - I would be pretty peed off if my child was only being heard by a parent helper (and I am one, a helper I mean. Obviously I am a parent too grin) or a guided reading session. DD is listened to up to 3times a week 121. However I clearly remember DS going months without being listened to at school (and he was a child that struggled when he was in reception).

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 22:37:17

Learnandsay - DD would not read anything I have written stapled together as its not a "real book" <<sigh>>

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 22:38:01

Learnandsay - DD would not read anything I have written stapled together as its not a "real book" <<sigh>>

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 22:41:17

Don't tell my daughter that. She's been brought up on things stapled together. I don't let her use staples but she's started making her own books and writing almost legible stories in them and then she sellotapes them together. They look horrible but they give me so much joy it's incredible.

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 22:51:32

Now she loves writing books herself, she wrote one about how much she loves our cats and how to look after them etc and tapes them together and sticks on pics of cats (or whatever) from magazines etc.

She took one into school to show her teacher last week. But my efforts don't match her high judgement on what a book is!!blush grin

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 23:09:01

(Off topicsmile Do you think there's anything special about books? And do you think it's a boy/girl thing? I've heard so much about boys not wanting to read and girls taking to it like ducks to water. My one year old picks up books and reads them by saying loudly "da, da, da" on each page of type. It has the whole family in hysterics whenever she does it. But I swear she thinks she's reading.

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 23:21:52

DS is a very good reader for his age (yr3 aged 7) but would not actively choose to read (fiction anyway) and he certainly did not learn as quickly as DD who has gone through 7 levels in just over 6 mths.

She has always been very into books and kicks off massively if I say no reading tonight. DS is the opposite and thinks yay a night off!!

However, he is into non fiction and will read about the Egyptians, space and football etc which DD is not so into.

I definately think there is something in it tbh. DD is very average (at this stage in numeracy) which is DS's major strength.

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 23:23:07

Also DS really struggled to initially learn to read but DD taught herself the basics (before nursery) and DS could not read till the end of reception (although he is an Aug birthday).

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 23:25:51

Also (sorry for multiple posts MN playing up) DD is very self motivated and wants to push herself (to catch up with her brother) she had a total hissy fit last week because she could not read "How to Train a Dragon" (full on screaming on the floor etc) and she is soooo close to reading in her head and I have noticed her doing it sometimes but DS took a lot longer to do it. Whereas she just "does it" herself iyswim.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 23:28:35

I suppose we need to see if anyone knows why it is like that. (If the clichés are actually correct.) With boys it could be a dads teaching them maths thing. But my friend is teaching his daughter maths and she's 6 and has no trouble so far with algebra.

I wonder how hard it would be for someone to turn it on its head and have the girls doing maths and the boys reading. Is it just cultural?

simpson Wed 06-Feb-13 23:36:15

I don't think so tbh (I wonder if it's genetic) I am an LP and pants at maths/numeracy so no teaching from me.

But his dad was a maths wizard (mental maths mainly) which is what DS is good at. DS loves algebra and has been reading books himself about it and his teacher has twigged and is extending him too which is good.

And I taught myself to read before I was 3 and was good at literacy which DD is very strong in.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 23:45:24

I can go so far with genetic explanations, but with the cliché "boys so far ahead in science" I start to wonder. Surely learning science is not genetic. As a society do we genuinely question these gender ability differences or do we accept them and build them into our view of the world.

That's a genuine question. I don't have a view on it. But I do wonder about it.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 23:48:38

Maybe I should sleep on it for tonight. Because the more I think about gender discriminated results the more I wonder if any of them are really true. It's a spiral that's perhaps better left alone.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Feb-13 00:15:04

Everyone's an individual and, of course, you can't extrapolate from one or two examples. But, for what it's worth, my ds spent almost his entire pre-school life looking at books and being read to. At 12, if he could choose he would spend his entire time reading. Or doing maths. Or drawing. But certainly not doing sport. Or, in fact, going outside at all. Unless to the bookshop.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Feb-13 00:16:55

Hmm, that wasn't meant to imply cause and effect (me insisting on him reading as a wee one), rather a natural inclination/continued interest.

BooksandaCuppa Thu 07-Feb-13 00:19:08

Oh, and my year 7 book club (in a selective school) has been 75% boys for the last three years. But that's anecdotal, again.

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 07:02:20

A school would be very stupid and short sighted to hold back pupils. Whitecup I would expect there to be readers at all levels in most reception classes. In mine there would normally be children reading pink to turquoise band and even the occasional gold and white readers.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 08:02:33

Holding children back might not mean that any harm to their reading progress was intended. I read one story about a mum who switched schools in Y1 recently to find that her son's entire class is currently reading chapter books and her son cannot. His new teacher has commented that he is "behind." The problem is that in his old school he was regarded as one of the best readers in his class. Obviously his original teachers would not have intended for this to happen. It could not have been forseen. And neither would they intentionally have held him back. They simply had their way of doing things.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 08:19:41

My friend recently moved house and her DD was in yr1 at my DC school ( last yr) and she was the best reader in the class. She has moved to a school where she is on the lower end of ability for reading.

My DS spent all of yr2 on lime (finished yr1 on lime too) and because that is the highest reading level (that my DC school have and they don't let anyone "free read" till yr3 he had to stay on it).

So IMO he was held back (for whatever reason) and how did the teacher know the harder books he could read if he wasn't allowed.

At the beginning of this year (yr3) his teacher has raved about the progress he has made in reading....er no, he is now finally reading the correct type of book in school.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Thu 07-Feb-13 08:49:36

I am a Primary School Teacher and I have found this thread fascinating!

You are all absolutely right in saying a child should NEVER be forced to stay on a particular reading stage if they are ready to move on. I cannot believe there are so many schools/teachers who seem to be doing that.
It doesn't matter what level the other children in the class are reading at, this is irrelevant. Your child's class teacher should be able to tell you where your child is in relation to the National Average expectations, NOT in comparison to other children in the class. This way moving schools would not alter a child's progress.
Different book bands are probably stored in another area, in most schools classes do share books because of the wide range of abilities in most classes.

Sadly, the government expectations of what a class teacher has to do does take away the one to one reading time with the class teacher. But the way you have to think of this is that if a teacher reads for 5 mins with a class of 30, that is 5 minutes gained for your child, but 145 minutes lost each week (the equivalent of at least 2 whole lessons).
Also, reading is not just about sitting with a book. It is a combination of a range of skills that makes up the reading level.
Teachers read with groups during guided reading sessions so they can hear a child's fluency, identify any sounds that are unknown, identify which sounds they have consolidated, pick out strategies the child is using to decode words, asses children's ability to discuss a book (much easier for the child in a group with peers), assess comprehension skills and much much more.
Your child will do phonics lessons which helps them learn phonemes and graphemes needed for reading, literacy lessons where they will have a class text to read and do lessons which link to this, a school library where your child can choose a book to take home, and a reading corner in the classroom where they can read books freely.

All in all, it is not as important for a child to read to a teacher one to one as you might think.
Teachers might want to keep a child on a particular book band because they have assessed them at that level even though it sounds to you like they can read it perfectly.

If you are concerned that the teacher cannot explain to you why your child is not being moved up, then I suggest you go to the Head and put your case forward. Ask them to explain how your child is doing in relation to National expectations and, if above, how your child is being challenged.

A massive target for schools is to nurture the G&T (gifted and talented) NOT just the SEN (special educational needs) children.
Children do not "all move up together". Never have and never will.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 08:59:00

Do you think sometimes there is women"looking through parent goggles" going on?
<ducks><hides>

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 08:59:37

Women? That should read "some" of course!

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Thu 07-Feb-13 09:22:42

parent goggles are very common.

I can understand why though, naturally mums are proud of EVERYTHING their children do (rightly so).

Personally, I sometimes wish certain parents would listen to my professional opinion when they have asked me about their child and trust my judgement.

I am a parent and would never dream of asking a doctor to look at my DS and then question the professional judgement given. I have had no medical training so wouldn't dream of it.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 09:28:58

Well then just be glad your child wasn't treated at Mid Staff's hospital or one of the other four trusts currently being investigated. Perhaps if your child had a dangerous doctor you should have questioned him or her.

DeWe Thu 07-Feb-13 10:03:56

When dd1 was at infant school the rule was maximum of ORT level 3 in year R, 6 in year 1 and 9 in year 2. But when they'd finished the levels they went onto free reading in each class, they weren't held back on a level.
Thankfully the head left and that rule disappeared overnight for dd2 who was above level 9 before she entered.

I've 2 girls and 1 boy and they've all been early readers, but very different in their approach.
Dd1 loved learning to read and write, she did a lot of teaching herself through playing with stuff. She didn't like to do anything she wasn't sure she could do, so didn't like reading to herself in case she couldn't do a word. Then I read her a chapter of Rainbow fairies just after her 5th birthday, and she read the rest of that, and continued reading to herself and didn't want me to read to her. She (even now at 12yo) reads a book once and very rarely goes back to it, and doesn't find reading books that are easy for her at all interesting (for example she discovered Famous Five after Rainbow fairies and I don't think read another Rainbow fairy, then started on Harry Potter, and hasn't read FF since...)

Dd2 wanted to do what big sister did. She was very quick at learning to read, she'd read through a book at 2yo and if she didn't know a word at the start, she did at the end. She read happily things like Topsy and Tim by 3yo, but still liked me to read to her. She still (age 9)likes me to occasionally read to her, but is always with a nose in a book. Doesn't matter what, she still reads Rainbow fairies, picture books, but also things like Black Beauty, The Hobbit. She'll get to the end of a book and restart it if she's enjoyed it. She rereads her favourite ones frequently.

Ds learnt to read similarly to dd1. But what he wanted (and still does) to read is generally fact. He'll (age 5) get totally ingrossed in a book designed for adults, if it's about his interests. He does enjoy fiction on a lower level, but he'd rather I read to him. He would choose me reading to him if it's fiction every time. He's recently discovered Beast Quest and loves them, he'll read them to himself if I'm not available. But what he would choose to read is a technical manual on a WWII aircraft. Anything he doesn't understand he goes and looks up on google. Probably the only child who could spell Concorde and Sonic Boom before their own name. confused
He has hearing issues, so tends to watch anything with subtitles on, which i think helped his reading.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Thu 07-Feb-13 10:08:08

But how would you know when to question?!
If you ask a professional for advice and you're given it, why would you question it unless you had a specific concern about what was said?
It is not down to the public to ensure medical staff are doing their jobs correctly.
I want to make it absolutely clear though that if there are concerns then parents should raise them, in education or medicine. I'm just saying that if you are given a reasonable explanation by a professional you shouldn't start arguing without reason.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 10:12:34

If my child had read Dr Seuss, Marinarik, Rosen, and a host of other authors in nursery and came back from Reception with a book with no words in it, or Sam's Pot (as has happened to my daughter, when I had explained on entry to Reception to her teacher what she could read,) then I'd tell the teacher that I was unhappy.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Thu 07-Feb-13 10:21:25

No arguments with that, as I said, concerns should be raised. But IF that teacher had given you a reasonable explanation it would have been fine. IF not, you have every right to question it.

I'll say it again, I have no objections to people asking for explanations or reasons. My problem is when I do provide a reasonable explanation, SOME parents will argue without listening/understanding the theory behind learning to read.

e.g. "I have not moved your child up a reading level because they seem to be struggling with some aspects of comprehension."

parent: "but he/she read it to me and didn't struggle on a single word so i want him/her moved up".

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 10:27:40

It won't be the theory of learning to read it will be your version of a theory of learning to read. (There are lots of different theories.)

I've heard the comprehension yes she can, no she can't push me pull you disagreement lots of times. It's a bit of a how long is a piece of string argument though. What the parent is probably talking about is decoding outstripping the teacher's view of comprehension. You could still put the child up and ask similar questions about a different colour book.

Wafflenose Thu 07-Feb-13 10:27:59

My DD1 was reading on school entry, but had to start from the beginning, which I didn't mind too much. By the end of Reception, she was reading shorter Roald Dahl (Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits) and poetry books, and school had her on green level. By Christmas of Year 1, she'd read the whole of her 400-page children's Bible, the complete Roald Dahl, 80 fairy books, The Faraway Tree etc, but finished Year 1 on white level. Now in Year 2, she reads several thick books a week, has read most of the Harry Potters etc and gets lime as a 'challenge' and white 'to build confidence' at home. I have spoken to her teachers many times, and there's a paper trail going back 2.5 years documenting everything she's read in the holidays, but the teachers are all backing each other in saying her levels have always been correct.

DD2 in Reception is on yellow, which is exactly right for her. Heaven knows why things should be so different for two children from the same family, in the same school.

So yes, children are deliberately held back sometimes.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Thu 07-Feb-13 10:45:10

It isn't my theory of learning to read as I did not create the theory. Teachers do not go off one theory of learning to read. There are many methods, however there are basic principles of learning to read which apply to every method.

I think you have misunderstood my meaning. I am sure you had every right to question your daughters teacher and obviously there are a lot of schools imposing restrictions on children which they shouldn't do.

I can only speak from personal experience. I will always sit with parents to discuss any concerns they have. I will offer my advice and explain any reasoning behind the decisions I have made. Most parents are happy to listen and offer their insights to their child's ability that can help further learning.

But I have sadly dealt with parents who are not like you. They do not understand and just want to speed through the levels because they think their child is fluent when reading that particular book. (often children cannot be moved up and "asked similar questions about a different colour book". It doesn't work that way as the content becomes harder and does not help understanding, it also means the child is struggling with decoding and comprehension which can damage confidence in some children).

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 10:58:45

Let's agree to separate theory such as Whole Word versus SP from principles then. Yes. I'm sure common principles exist. I don't think I'm misunderstanding you. But nor do I think most parents know much about comprehension. I find it most likely that a parent who says "this book is too easy for my child probably means the language is relatively simplistic for my child and she can read it pretty effortlessly. And that's probably true. So, if it is true she probably won't struggle with decoding on the next level.

If she can't answer questions properly or gives vague and unfocussed answers, which I've read often elsewhere is a problem, then the parents probably aren't going to be able to understand unless you show them and they're willing to listen. (You say some are not.) But that doesn't mean they're wrong about the decoding.

Ideally such a parent would get her child some more complicated books from the library and leave the reading scheme to you. But I know that's hard for some parents because perhaps they see some other child being moved up when theirs isn't. I think the competitive parent element is a unintended consequence of reading schemes.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 11:04:02

I'm using the term theory to describe WW/SP rather than method because there is much ideological baggage involving supporters on both sides which has little to do with the method and is either theoretical or ideological depending on how you want to define it.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 11:39:02

I totally agree that there are parents who want to rush their kids through the levels.

I read with yr1 and2 kids and quite often in the reading diary the parent has written "X found this book too easy can we move them up" and when I have read that book with them they have struggled.

If a teacher comes out with a valid reason as to why a child is on a lower level than their parent thinks they should be ie fluency, comprehension etc etc that is fair enough. But to not have any more books/worrying about running out of books is not one of them.

DeWe - what a bonkers plan re reading levels for each year. Bet you were glad when that one went!!

No children are allowed reading books in nursery at my DC school (although her teacher did manage to sneak some out for DD) as the HT teacher thinks no child can read at nursery age.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 12:41:04

Presumably a teacher is always going to think her reason is a valid one. I have heard one or two parents call certain comprehensive complaints by teachers "bollocks." What reason the parent has for saying that I don't know.

Ideally parents shouldn't get too hung up on the colour band/level. But I know how tempting it must be if you see another child going up two levels.

The problem I have isn't with levels it's with individual books. Mostly I'm fine both with the colour/level and with the non decodable books. Some teachers on here have said it would be easier to assess my daughter for a different level than to go down into the basement looking for books from the 1970s. It just shows even teachers can get into a disagreement about what level a child should be on. And then there's the teacher generated argument that it's OK to have a child reading one or two levels below her ability but not seven or eight levels below it.

An option whatever the level is just to read the school books, close them and go to the library.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 12:49:27

The whole debate is based on a false premise really which is that schools can hold children back. As long as a parent has access to a public library the school can't hold any child back. All it can do is issue wrong reading books which can be ignored to a greater or lesser extent.

CharlotteBronteSaurus Thu 07-Feb-13 12:50:57

doesn't happen in our school
in fact, they all have "targeted teaching time" or some such phrase, where a small group of 4-5 miss assembly to do some small group teaching with the teacher. the DC who need extra support have this more often, but the DC who are performing best get their turn too. a couple of DC also go into the year above for guided reading.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 12:55:38

In DS's case he did not read the school books for the 2nd part of yr2 (because he didn't want to) but read other stuff instead.

In yr3 they have allocated time to read their books to themselves. I wonder what a child does who cannot read in their head though..

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 13:01:14

I wonder what a child does who cannot read in their head though..

That's one to ask the teachers.

On the subject of going to the library, though, I think that's why teacherwith2kids was worried for my sake. Because I think she thinks that if the school has (or thinks it has) a valid reason to keep my daughter on a lower reading level than she should be on (if she should be higher) and I keep taking her to the library, then whatever the gap between my view and the school's view is is just going to get bigger and bigger over time.

I suppose that could be a thing to be said against reading schemes (or libraries.)

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:46

I am a volunteer reader in a year 7 class. There is such a wide range of reading issues among the NT children I work with. One boy, for example, reads absolutely beautifully and with understanding, has a wide vocabulary and seemingly good comprehension, but if you ask him to tell you the important bits out of the last chapter, or to predict what might happen next, he can't begin to do it. So I would guess that if it was based on reading lists of words, he would have a reading age of about 14/15. But his understanding of how a narrative works is probably about 5 or 6. So i's not always straightforward.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 13:49:04

Doesn't the answer you get depend on how you ask the question?

If you close the book and ask what do you think happens next then the child is perfectly at liberty to say I don't know. It hasn't happened yet.

But if you ask do you think Gollum will ever get the ring back or do you think Frodo will succeed and throw it into fires of Mordor? Then you're probably much more likely to get a sensible answer.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:20

Absolutely. But if I said that to this child he would say "Yes".

I do know what sort of questions to ask!

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 13:59:13

If you offered this child a choice between two alternatives he would reply yes?

What would he reply if you asked him

Do you think your team will win the football match this afternoon or do you think the other team is better prepared?

DD2 was moved off the reading scheme in Y2 because the head teacher decreed that she couldn't be allowed to move to free reading as "she'd run out of books". Class teacher quite rightly thought that was ridiculous, and let her bring in books from home for most of the year.

However Y3 teacher was't quite so enlightened, and insisted that DD carry on at the reading scheme level she'd left the previous November. She wouldn't have been allowed to become a free reader till at least Y4, which was one of the many reasons we took her out of school in Y3.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 14:17:22

Sorry, misread your post. Given two alternatives based on the book, he would choose one at random. Probably the first one offered to him.

He is quite capable of holding a normal conversation about things that might happen in the future. What he can't do is do the same from a book he is reading.

Of course schools don't hold children back. Each child has frequently reviewed individual targets which demand a minimum (actually a very high minimum) of progress. The targets are increasingly set by software and are based on the data coming from the pre-school setting. The HT, the LEA and OfSTED will all be on the case if children in a class do not make that progress.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 17:16:01

I currently read with yrs 1, 2 and 4 at my DC school so I know what type of questions to ask. Also I would not want things the other way round ie my child on too high a level which would (possibly) knock their confidence.

A miracle happened today (HT brought DD a KS2 book for her to read at the weekend).

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 17:37:23

Good for your daughter and the head teacher. As far as I can tell most people seem to be happy with the schemes. But I do think when parents get unhappy, unless they're resourceful, then things can get sticky and intractable. But I think you're right a child stuck on books that are too hard is worse than one on books too easy and access to a public library. With no available library the two situations are about equal.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 17:57:32

The only reason it is a miracle is because nothing like this happened for DS and he had to languish reading books beneath him for a whole year (obv. He read other stuff at home).

It was because nobody could be bothered to go and get books from another classroom.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:10:31

I'd be very surprised for a reception class not to have higher than red books in their classroom, especially at this stage in the year. Some children come into school reading very well already, at least 3 or 4 levels above this, if not more.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:14:47

I'm not sure that the room the books are stored in is a real barrier. If staff are motivated to give children the wrong books their storage location won't change that.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:15:40

Re keeping children back - this just wouldn't make sense to me. We have termly pupil progress meetings where the teacher, TA, deputy head and HT all sit together for an hour or so and discuss progress within the class. We have to show how much progress each child has made in that time. We look at some children individually and also look at each group of learners - girls, boys, EAL, SEN, HAP(high attainers), MAP (middle attainers) and LAP (lower), free school meals, pupil premium, statemented, BME pupils, Pakistani learners.... etc. The information is all entertained online and the pupils and groups are all colour coded to show their attainment bands.

If a whole class were showing as the same, regardless of entry assessments, we'd have some serious talking to do. It just wouldn't be possible to get away with it here, not in any core subject!

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 18:19:36

We don't have any reading scheme books in the reception classroom or indeed any other classroom

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:19:47

As long as the child makes the necessary progress that's fine. But the child might be capable of making much more progress than the necessary progress.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:23:03

learnandsay - doesn't work that way though here as our target for every child is already above what is is supposed to be on paper anyway, plus we have to show what we do for every child in order to challenge them. Any child already flagged up as higher attaining we have different targets for them too.

Obviously a class where all children were on same books and not allowed to move independently would be flagged immediately as the data would not show any differences re the numbers - which just wouldn't happen in your normal classroom.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:30:51

That's interesting, hula. Ofstead are always going on and on about the most able not being challenged. I don't know if they're right or not to go on and on about it. I've seen it in pretty much every report I've read.

I've seen schools who boast about their enthusiastic pushing of the three rs. I'm very keen on that. But I guess not all schools have similar policies.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:32:25

High attainers are just another one of the groups that are highlighted by schools, along with several others.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:49:47

It's illuminating that you explained how rigorous your system is. Because simply having labels for children doesn't mean that the right children, or any children, are within each category. It would seem from the postings of unhappy parents in this thread that not all systems are as good as yours.

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 18:51:49

Part of the current Ofsted inspection process is to listen to readers from each level in each class (chosen by the inspector not the school) ...now can you imagine that an inspector isn't going to notice every child has the same book band when selecting the children or failing to notice the difference in reading ability?

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 19:07:48

Having the same book band is one way of failing to differentiate, clearly. But, regardless of the method of failing to do so, Ofstead routinely complain that the most able are not being challenged.

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 19:14:47

Which just goes to prove that schools would not get away with a situation such as described by the OP

exoticfruits Thu 07-Feb-13 19:23:30

Schools couldn't possibly get away with it-however I fail to understand why they would want to.

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 19:49:18

Precisely they have nothing to gain and lots to lose.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 19:52:54

I think it's one of those widespread myths- possibly based on some child at some stage not progressing as fast as his mother thought he should "oh, he would be miles ahead, but the school like them all to go at the same speed" that sort of myth is incredibly "sticky"- surviving hard evidence tothe contrary, the knowledge that a school would get a crap OFStED and the teacher be classed as unsatisfactory if it happened.....

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 20:18:22

Presumably if the impression that this is happening is widespread then it comes from the experience of more than one mother. But, no matter how annoyed a teacher may be with a mother she shouldn't say something silly like "we need all the children to move up together."

I don't know how teachers can get disgruntled reading scheme mothers more on side. But I think avoiding the push-me-pull you surrounding comprehension is a good start. If the mum is utterly convinced the child should move up and the teacher has doubts about his ability to answer questions then some compromise should be reached. I'm sure the teacher just flatly refusing to move the child is a recipe for disgruntled mums to start typing "the lying bastards just want all the kids on the same level books."

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 20:31:23

simpson said something about parents being desperate to get their children moved up and writing that the child found a book easy when in fact they were struggling to read it. If that's true in any particular case then it should be simple enough to demonstrate to the parent by having the parent watch the child read the book to the teacher. I'm sure failure to answer a comprehension question could be demonstrated in the same way.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 20:38:23

"Presumably if the impression that this is happening is widespread then it comes from the experience of more than one mother. But, no matter how annoyed a teacher may be with a mother she shouldn't say something silly like "we need all the children to move up together." "

And if a teacher did say that, then they should be immediately reported to the head and the governors. Because apart from anything else, that attitude will get the school a crap OfSTED

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 20:40:23

Someone in a recent thread said she had been told that, yes.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 20:44:56

I'm really sorry, but I just don't believe it. The is no way a teacher in a state school would say that. Even a crap teacher would know not to say something like that publicly.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 20:50:18
mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 20:52:32

It's a good excuse for some mothers ..wink

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 21:01:15

The thing is 2 different teachers (yr1 and yr2) both said they were concerned that DS would run out of school books by the end of the year.

Now he is a very good reader but not exceptionally so.

I am under no illusions that this means his teacher has got him on the wrong NC level as he would read loads of other stuff in the classroom.

But just that they didn't then have an idea of the harder books he was able to tackle.

socharlottet Thu 07-Feb-13 22:11:04

It's just easier to say that to pushy concerned mothers, than try to tell them that their precious little bunny isn't ready to move up yet

Fillyjonk75 Thu 07-Feb-13 22:22:13

DD1 was on the old ORT Level 5 towards the end of reception but as 6+ were in the Y1 and up classrooms only then, she stayed on L5 for a bit longer than she would have done otherwise. But it didn't bother me, she could try other things at home then anyway. When she got to Y1 and had whizzed through the rest of ORT she was allowed to go to the library for her main reading book and choose from a banded selection. I think they are quite flexible like that, there is one girl this year who was on L5/6 when she started and she has progressed through a few levels.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 22:25:46

But if he reads and understands car maintenance manuals at home and is bad at reading pink books at school there's obviously a problem. The difficulty for the parent is she and her husband can't set up a garage in the classroom. But the teacher can demonstrate her lack of success with the pink book. Maybe in the end they should decide to have Precious Little Jonny reading car manuals instead of pink books because he's actually good at reading them.

pointythings Thu 07-Feb-13 22:37:45

-I certainly haven't experienced this, and I have two complete pains very able readers. The school has always bent over backwards to accommodate them. DD2 is in Yr5 now, was put back on scheme books (diamond band) because they wanted proof of where she was (she was not impressed) but that didn't last long. I told her to read through them, some of them were OK stories and quite enjoyable, and we just kept her reading at home. She was assessed a 5c at the end of Yr4.

Much the same for DD1, we did a mix of sending books in with her and teachers finding her books from the local middle school -very good provision.

The only gripe I have is that the school gave her Inkheart and then neglected to get the other two books in the trilogy, so I've had to make some serious library reservations...

pointythings Thu 07-Feb-13 22:38:59

Oh, and both my DDs still use the phonics they have learned to deal with words they have not yet come across. You do need the phonic knowledge, alongside monster vocab it really helps them deal with new and unfamiliar words.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 22:51:18

LandS - if a child is fab at reading car manuals (your example) then they may not be fab at comprehension in a story setting iyswim and prefer non fiction books which would keep that child back.

I am bracing myself to ask for a chat with DD's teacher tomorrow about her literacy.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 22:55:39

That's right. But then we can't have employers coming on telly complaining that children can't read well enough to get a job. Because I would say but Little Jonny was reading How to Fix Your Peugeot 306 when he was four. But his teacher took it away.

Haberdashery Thu 07-Feb-13 23:19:29

lands, you seem to have some kind of fixed idea that teachers can actually remove skills and knowledge from children's heads. Why?

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 23:31:05

No, I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that some children will come to school with certain skills and abilities already. And to judge those as being outside the norm, disregard them and make the child start again, with picture books, if you like, is not to advance the child but is rather to regress the child.

seeker Fri 08-Feb-13 00:32:41

If a child actually hasn't reqd story books, though,they might need to be taken back to the beginning for that particular skill. Thinking about it, the year 7 boy I talked about who is a fantastic reader, but has no idea about narrative arc, or how story telling works might have started out like that. Maybe if he'd been given the wordless books when he was 5 he wouldn't have the difficulty he has now.

Can't understand the incredibly anti feeling towards wordless books, by the way. I remember having huge fun with them with mine!

BooksandaCuppa Fri 08-Feb-13 07:19:16

I think in most cases, seeker, antagonism towards wordless books by a parent is indicative of what will progress to a broader belief of 'I'm right, teacher is wrong'. Most people I know who've felt so strongly about wordless books have ended up moving their children around umpteen schools...

mrz Fri 08-Feb-13 07:44:15

As a teacher I am antagonistic towards wordless reading scheme books ...they were originally produced as part of the look & say method to encourage children to use picture clues.
Having said that I love high quality wordless children's books for storytelling.

exoticfruits Fri 08-Feb-13 07:53:01

'The move up together' comment is particularly silly- that would be an immediate cause for concern for the place they moved to.
I am always saddened by the fact that many DCs don't have a library ticket and a weekly visit - it all seems to hinge on the school reading book.

Cat98 Fri 08-Feb-13 07:57:36

My ds Is in reception, is still only 4 but is apparently working 2 years ahead in numeracy. I am glad they really don't seem to be holding him back at all. He frequently comes home telling me things he has been doing and I am amazed. His reading is also above average I think and again, they are not holding him back - quite the opposite; they have him on green band and only now is he confident with them, initially I had the problem that the school books were a little hard.
I have read posts on mumsnet that make me thankful for ds's reception teacher. I just hope they are as good further up the school!

Cat98 Fri 08-Feb-13 08:01:24

Agree with making full use of the library - I get books for ds for him to read me so I can assess the level and I usually go for slightly easier ones than he gets from school tbh. I also get longer books for me to read him (current faves include jill Tomlinson, 'my naughty little sister', the gaskitt books and bloody batman!)
So it doesn't really matter to me what level his reading book from school is (within reason, I'd be concerned if the level was wildly incorrect obviously) as its just another of the many books to read.

projectsrus Fri 08-Feb-13 10:03:48

Well I have many years experience through one ofsted outstanding school and would say that differentiation has been very patchy, going from brilliant to virtually non-existant.

The book thing is a red herring, tbh it's easy for a teacher to give the right level book to a child. What is harder and more time consuming, is for example in Y3 making sure that the L4 children are being stretched and taught further, alongside the L2s, and L3s nd even some L1s..and anything in between, including all the huge range of needs and classes of 30+ - I don't envy those teachers at all, it is a nearly impossible job for a lay person like me and I am in awe of those who manage it.

So.........we have had teachers that have managed it brilliantly, especially with better cohorts, others that have done virtually no differentiation for the higher groups for things like maths especially. I don't know how they've got away with it with Ofsted. Equally one teacher especially was amazing and able to differentiate and motivate all children in her class, and I say this having had a number of children go through at different level of ability, so not the case of someone who things their pfb is a genius.

I still think if class numbers were much lower and there as more support in the classroom, even the weaker teachers would have a good chance, whilst in the current scenario they are set up to fail. Only my obervation though.

BooksandaCuppa Fri 08-Feb-13 13:00:30

Mine wasn't a comment on whether wordless books are or are not a good thing, mrz (although I liked them - and they can be used at secondary, with high-ability cohorts, to extend comprehension); more on the idea that a teacher must be holding someone's pfb back and that there couldn't possibly be a good reason for the teacher doing something that they see a value in, even if the parent doesn't.

As with most things in life, it's good to take a balance view: sometimes differentiation isn't what it should be, and sometimes your child's teacher knows what's the right level for them. It's knowing when to query it that I'm sure is the most difficult thing.

mrz Fri 08-Feb-13 16:32:39

I didn't send home wordless books when I taught reception BooksandaCuppa unless a child had language delay and them we used them to develop speech as a reading tool they aren't useful because there isn't anything to read.

mrz Fri 08-Feb-13 16:32:56

then not them

simpson Fri 08-Feb-13 16:38:21

Mrz - can I PM you?

DD had an assessment today and I want to ask you something if that's ok smile

mrz Fri 08-Feb-13 17:52:48

of course smile

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