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!?

noisytoys Sun 17-Feb-13 16:58:18

At DDs school they give us levels and targets each term but all schools are different

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 16:58:47

I have to be honest in 2 decades not one parent has ever asked me what NC level their child is working at ...

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 16:59:34

and as a mother the only time I knew my children's levels in primary school was in Y6

lljkk Sun 17-Feb-13 17:03:22

Just ask if you wonder, but to be honest, no news is usually good news.

I only have fuzzy ideas what 3/4 of mine are doing compared to "national expectations". I'm only clued up about 1/4 because it's her KS2 SATs yr & she tells me so much how she's doing.

In primary school, if there is concern about progress, the teachers will tell you.

We started to be told what levels our children were working at once they got to about Y4/Y5, and even then we are only using that information to compare it with how they were doing a year previously.

When the children get to secondary school, they will be told what level they are working at in each subject and what they need to work on in order to progress to the next level.

Svrider Sun 17-Feb-13 17:22:30

How old are your dc
Any less than 10 I'd say the following are important
Happy to go to school
Chats happily about school
Some improvement over a term

I also have no idea about 2a etc

lljkk Sun 17-Feb-13 17:32:14

The one thing I will say is I know a few children who were so well-behaved that they kind of fell off the radar and subsequently behind. One mum (young but earnest) didn't realise because school didn't spell it out. Mum was livid when school suddenly announced the children couldn't read (they were at end of y4 & yr5). She has been more hands on with learning for her younger ones.

DS was in a private school where a lot of the kids were underachievers, often nice kids who behaved so well their underperformance academically wasn't clocked properly in state schools.

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 17:48:28

Thanks all. Mrz - that's interesting. So why is there so much talk of it?
A local school where my friends children attend have just issued the children's levels to every parent. At first I thought it was a silly idea esp if the children became aware of it. But she said it has put her mind at ease to know he is working at the 'average expected level' and on target for level 4or more when leaving primary.

I have to admit it's left me wanted to know the same about my dd esp as I don't talk about what she is doing not doing to others as it just doesn't seem right and I know there can be some conservative parents. But how do I know she is progressing as she should or if she wasn't how would I know he enough was being done to help!

My children are yr2 and reception. The reception one hates going to school sad

learnandsay Sun 17-Feb-13 17:49:21

It's good to have something precise-sounding to worry about.

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 17:53:30

educator do the parents know what it means other than that the school has assessed their children "at the average expected level"? and is that any more helpful than the teacher saying "your child is working at expected levels"? Does a number and letter make it clearer?

In reality a 2C or a 2B doesn't actually tell you what your child can or can not do

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 18:07:21

No that is true, but it says to me that if they have reached a number/official term it means they have achieved certain goals.

In an ideal world a breakdown of where they've gone from and too and he they are achieving as expected. For example I have worried whether my Dd is struggling with reading her teacher assures me she has no concerns. But I don't get anymore than that, I suppose I don't know what the norm is for a 6/7 year old so I worry.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 18:18:42

they send us the results every year at our school but I always forget them because it's the comments the teachers make that stick in your mind much more.

Also a "below national level" sticks in the mind!

but the numbers don't....

I happen to know about ds1 at the moment but only because the teachers told him and he came home and told me and it was only last week.

I think the numbers get talked about on here because it is a national forum and it's the only way we can compare....

learnandsay Sun 17-Feb-13 18:19:07

What kind of books can your six/nearly seven year old daughter read?

mrz Sun 17-Feb-13 18:20:07
Meglet Sun 17-Feb-13 18:22:25

OP, I was worrying about this too grin. I've got my head around reading levels, but all the level 1,2 etc baffles me.

I need to grill DS's teacher.

In Scotland we have the curriculum for excellence so the school give us a broad idea each year but the levels cover several years so it seems more of a relaxed system! I hear parents talking at school about how they feel their DC is ahead in reading or behind in maths and I don't really understand how they know? I trust the teachers and I think they would tell us if the DCs were not progressing.

I have to say all this talk of 2a etc just confuses me, but I guess if your school uses that system it's been explained to the parents?

kawliga Sun 17-Feb-13 20:47:51

'Happy to go to school
Chats happily about school
Some improvement over a term'

This. I try to focus on making sure dd is happy at school and enjoying her lessons. There are not many chances to ask teachers about the dc's general happiness (without turning into THAT mum) so I take any chance I can. I would feel like talking about level 2c or whatever is a lost opportunity to find out whether it's really true what dd says that she has no friends and nobody ever wants to play with her (teacher assures me she has some good friends as I thought, but whenever I ask dd 'who did you play with today' she says nobody! hmm

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 20:59:34

Kawliga - I am having a similar problem with my Dd she cries every morning, says everyday she doesn't like school or want to go! School assure me she is fine when she is there, but dd keeps telling me accounts of when she was crying in assembly etc???
Saying all that she is learning and progressing well. But I can't help feeling a little confused, is my child giving me false accounts or do the school just not get her or know when she is upset? Didn't expect to find school this worrying that is for sure!

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:02:23

Forgot to say dd is reading JP blue books apparently they equate to turquoise level!?
She has suddenly been keen to start chapter books too...but although she can read them the comprehension isn't there her writing seems quite inconsistent too...but like I say I'm not really sure what a 6yr old should be able to write!?

simpson Sun 17-Feb-13 21:15:07

Is it your DD1 or DD2 that is on crap JP books?? DD has point blank refused to read hers today <<sigh>>

I always thought it was normal to ask for NC levels blush and with google as my friend I could (but don't!!) look up what that level meant iyswim.

My concern with DD (reception) is that she makes friends , gets covered in crap glue/paint etc, learns to take turns etc and generally enjoys reception. I know her reading levels but nothing else.

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:21:33

Yep DD2 that is reading the lovely JP books hmm

I was oblivious to the NC levels until recently and i think i preferred it that way. Actually think i was so much less anxious before discovering this section which has lead me to worry about so much. A case of too much info i think...but me being me i now can't keep away!

I completely agree re reception, in fact i wish dd2 had had another year at preschool tbh, would have done her the world of good. DH and I even joke about moving to Finland where my DD1 wouldn't even be at school yet!

simpson Sun 17-Feb-13 21:25:09

The problem with DD is that she is desperate to be learning more (re literacy) and constantly asks to do it (and her teacher says she does it at school too) so in some ways she is ready for more really...

But she totally loves school (apart from sound time which she hates) which is all good...

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:35:06

How old is your DD? DD1 is desperate to, all of a sudden to do lots of reading so reading her JP most evenings but also determind to read a particular Enid Blyton chapter book this week, i'm not sure how they compare to other first chapter book? But i think she is stuggling to gasp the story, but keen to move on a bit. Im wondering if there is another first chapter book more suitable!?

I think, like i mentioned on a previous thread, the Dandelion Readers really boosted her confidence as reading could be a bit of a chore a yr ago. I want this current enthusiasm to continue so really want to find something that keeps it going before the JP puts her off again!

simpson Sun 17-Feb-13 21:39:17

DD was 5 a couple of weeks ago.

She is only into fiction so happy to read Horrid Henry etc but NOT non fiction really sad

She reads at a much higher level in fiction and can answer all the comprehension questions (mostly) but finds it hard on the "why" type of questions on non fiction for some reason confused

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

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 17:46:05

Suffixes and prefixes etc, I think...

She just now hates sound time sad as its "boring" <<sigh>>

Her spelling is pretty good except for two (she spells tow every time) and their as thier grin

She does still have spelling tests every week.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 17:55:16

She's doing really well

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 18:02:25

I don't think it's pointless to teach the decoding of words that the child can't understand. Children love to hear Beatrix Potter who uses words like master, mischief, implored and so on. In the context of the story the children get the gist of what's being read without understanding precisely what some words mean. When my daughter reads Beatrix Potter I explain what some words mean after she has decoded them. When I read Beatrix Potter, unless she stops me and asks me, I don't.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 18:10:56

That isn't what I said learnandsay!

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 18:17:48

Dr Suess is full of words that kids don't know what they mean too. But it doesn't mean they can't enjoy it.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 18:19:52

It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

Then the alien words in the phonics check are pointless because, by definition, they can't be understood.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 18:24:35

I don't agree as the first time a child encounters a word (to read) to them it's an alien word as they don't know what it means.

It's only the adult who knows the difference between a "real" word and an "alien" word.

Also the phonics checks is for phonic knowledge only not comprehension.

Feenie Mon 18-Feb-13 18:26:46

It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

Yep. That'll be why no one does it, then.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 18:30:03

I'd heard of teachers swapping lists of alien words. I think some people do do it.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:02:19

It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

Then the alien words in the phonics check are pointless because, by definition, they can't be understood.

You seem to be confusing teaching and assessing learnandsay

Phonics is taught in the context of words, sentences and texts ...children are taught the meaning of new vocabulary they meet and to understand the sentences and texts they read.

The phonics screening check uses a mixture or real and pseudo words to assess whether children have developed the skills and knowledge they need to decode any unfamiliar words they may encounter.

www.spelfabet.com.au/2012/12/nonsense-words/

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 19:08:13

Here is a resource for teachers to train their children to read meaningless words using flashcards. You can try to persuade me that nobody uses it if you like.

www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/primary-40069/ks1-english-40456/test-60002/

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:09:41

and yes there were teachers swapping lists last year because they were worried (apparently with good reason) that their pupils hadn't been taught phonics effectively enough to decode any word they met.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:21:51

community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/561925.aspx?PageIndex=1

I do wonder if those teachers who were swapping lists were the ones complaining that their good readers failed hmm

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 19:31:13

educator - about your dd crying in the morning and reporting that she was crying at school. I find that by asking the teachers consistently about her day, her friends, whether she played, whether she cried, they eventually get that I'm more interested in her emotional wellbeing than the academic stuff and they fill me in on what was going on so I can understand dd's reports of crying. I don't think children deliberately give false reports, it's just they see the world through 5 year old eyes. I try to piece together dd's report plus the teacher's 2 cents and come up with a fuller picture of what's going on at school. Sometimes you'll never get the full picture but at least you get a good sense of the context and can judge when it's serious and when it's not.

This is just what I chose to focus on when dd started school. There isn't that much time to talk properly with teachers without becoming a nuisance so I spend it on discussing dd's general wellbeing. Obviously this will change when she's older but at age 5 I honestly don't use the time to ask what she is being taught. Having said that, I do read with her so I notice in a general way that she is learning how to read. Great. How she compares to the average child, I really don't worry about. Even if I discovered that she was far behind the average I still wouldn't worry (that's one thing I've learned from lurking on mumsnet!)

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 19:35:15

I can't quite see why it's a good idea not to worry if you somehow discover that your daughter's reading is far behind the average.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:39:52

Very sensible post kawliga your daughter is lucky to have such a caring mum

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 19:46:13

Because LandS - I would hate my child to realise reading was an issue (that they were behind).

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 19:49:16

Thanks mrz!

learnandsay, this is about 5 year olds. Like the poster upthread said, this is when they are little, maybe until age 10? In some countries they don't even start school until 6 or 7. Also there are so many stories on mumsnet about dc who were hopelessly behind who then pulled far ahead, and others whose proud parents boasted about how far ahead they were who then fall behind.

I do think you would notice a serious problem e.g. child not making any progress at school. In that case I would approach the teacher to ask about what I had noticed (not to ask about what reading level they are on, but to just say that she seems not to be making progress and had they noticed the same thing?)

poodletip Mon 18-Feb-13 19:55:55

My children's school didn't give out the levels when she first started there. Then when a new head teacher started she started giving the levels every term. That was when I learnt that DD who was "ahead of expectations" at the end of Y3 might well have been ahead but was actually at the very same level at the end of Y3 than she was at the start. I knew she wasn't very happy (long story) but the teacher had throughout the year assured me that she was very bright and working hard, and hadn't given any indication that she wasn't making good progress. If it weren't for the levels being given to the parents I would never have known. Fortunately in Y4 she made good progress and so far in Y5 she's making even better progress. If I was getting given this information and I could see that she was continuing to fail to progress I would be able to do something about it. If you don't know then you can't do anything.

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 20:06:52

Poodletip surely if your dd was at the very same level at the end of Y3 as she was at the start you would have noticed that? She made no progress for a whole year and if the teacher hadn't told you then you would never have known? I don't get how that's possible if you live in the same house. I can guess it's very possible with teenagers they are experts at keeping parents in the dark, but not younger children?

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 20:16:33

I think it's all down to how "progress" is measured. A child can be making progress without moving levels .progress isn't a nice upward line on a graph

poodletip Mon 18-Feb-13 20:17:05

No, I had no idea until I got those numbers. How would I know? I don't sit at home doing maths with her. They don't send home maths homework so I had no real idea what she was doing at school.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 22:08:14

I'm not sure. being worried doesn't necessarily mean getting shouty, trying to force her to read all the dictionaries in the house or (giving her friends spelling tests disguised as birthday parties, as we once saw.) It might mean nothing more complicated than writing poo and wee on bits of paper and sticking them to the fridge with magnets. Everything doesn't have to be bad.

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 22:16:25

poodletip, great that your dd is now making progress, but I don't think it's safe to rely 100% on teachers for this information. I would never trust any teacher or school that much, no matter how fantastic they were. They have other pupils to look after, plus other classroom management issues, plus mountains of paperwork, plus families and lives of their own...as a parent you're the only person who is absolutely focused on your own child's progress. The teacher can't do it better than you.

To be in a situation where you don't know what your dc are doing at school (except for what the teachers say) sounds very risky to me, even though for now all seems to be going well. If the school doesn't send the children with homework then there are other ways to try and find out for yourself what they're doing and see if they're enjoying it and getting better at it as time goes by. That's all. Levels and averages, OFSTED, national targets, percentages and what other children are doing don't matter one whit.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 22:17:12

shock at spelling tests at a kids party!!

Although nothing should shock me as I found out recently that one mother of a child in DD's class has a spread sheet on who gets the WOW/Golden Book award each week!!

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 22:23:57

as a parent you're the only person who is absolutely focused on your own child's progress. The teacher can't do it better than you.

Now that's a golden sentence.

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 22:38:50

I'm also shock and grin at the spelling tests disguised as kids parties! That's pathetic and hilarious at the same time.

But love the idea of writing poo and wee and sticking them on the fridge - way to make learning fun!

Ruprekt Mon 18-Feb-13 23:10:47

Levels are strange though.

For example, for national average at the end of y2, DS should have been a level 2B. However, he went into Y3 as a level 3C so he made more progress than expected.

Now per school year he is expected to make 2 sub levels so should be a level 3A by the end of Y3 but I am fully aware that he may not make the full progress. His report may say 'not made the progress expected.'

I only get this because I am a TA at school but I know lots of people won't get it.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 23:20:27

That's a very systematic approach. Parents are, in so many ways, outside of the system. It's so much easier I think (many may disagree) to teach your school children yourself. That way you know what they've learned.

The only reason to send them to school is because the law says you have to.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 23:24:09

Ruprekt - DS is exactly the same. Now in yr3 and finished yr2 on 3C.

However his school have targetted him a 3B for the end of the year (but his teacher is pushing towards a 3A in his stronger areas).

Ruprekt Mon 18-Feb-13 23:34:46

L&S - school is not all about levels though. It is about social skills and sharing and experiencing new things with peers. I would never HE but each to their own.

Some children will never reach the levels of others but will make some progress which is good for them.

I was trying to explain how levels are ridiculous to a teacher the other day.

When we are pregnant all we want is to see 10 fingers and toes on the scan.

Then we hope the birth goes well and we have a healthy baby.

Then we hope they reach the milestones they need to reach.

They start school and we hope they will make friends and learn to read.

We really just want them to be well rounded individuals who have friends and are happy. The rest is a bonus...........smile

learnandsay Tue 19-Feb-13 07:55:46

Ruprekt, I think part of the problem is that in general, the levels are part of the teaching system. And since the parents don't understand the teaching system they don't understand the levels either. Even if the levels are explained nicely and slowly parents can understand which ones are higher and which are lower. They might even find a webpage explaining the requirements for certain levels in certain subjects, but unless they research teaching methods and spend all day in their child's classroom they won't understand exactly what's going into each piece of each level. (And nor do they need to.) But if they get fixated on the levels per-se then it's a pity. It's a bit like receiving a damaged letter in the post and getting fixated on the half of it that you did receive. I wasn't referring to HE. What I meant is that if you teach your child to read, write and do maths yourself, (and send her to school) then you don't have to worry about levels because you know perfectly well what she can do and what she can't. Of course the school can and does teach her everything else.

PolkadotCircus Tue 19-Feb-13 09:08:31

It's progress that counts and what parents are often left in the dark about.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 09:59:40

I wonder why I spent 4 years training to be a teacher if someone with no training can do it better hmm

educator123 Tue 19-Feb-13 10:19:48

As another poster said, ultimately I want my DDs to be happy at school, esp the one in reception. To be fair the school have been great give me a daily rundown every pick up on how she has been, what times she has been upset, going out with her at playtimes to intiate some play with some other children and have been sending home her learning journey at regular intervals so i can see what she has been up to and look at photos etc. This is mainly to reassure me as they say she is mostly happy during school and they can't seem to pinpoint something which is causing her to not want to go.

It is very hard as she is literally peeled off me hysterical every drop off sad and i am starting to worry that something maybe going unmissed although, i think/hope deep down that it is purely that she would rather be at homke with me! As open ended questions to her just follow with, she doesnt like any of school and just misses me!

She is, imo, progressing well. She couldn't read at all or write her name when she started now she can write very neatly, is keen to write, can spell simple words some containing diagraphs, and seems to be enjoying reading and progressing with it. I really hope that ultimately she is happy, but i also know she is hard to read so if you don't know her well you may not notice she is upset.

It is hard as a parent to know if your child is progressing well as i personally do not know what they should/shouldn't be able to do. I suppose the level part gives a part and idea of progression if it is given on a regular basis. But i would rather know what they are teaching and how so i can support in the best way i can at home. I am more than happy to do things with my dds at home but what i don't want to do is push them, do things that aren't at their level or contrict the way something has been taught to them. It is all miles away from the way i was taught esp maths.

But tbh i had never even owrried about the childrens school or even knew about levels etc until i looked at another school then started to compare things and basically i have driven myself mad with worry!! I just want to know they are happy, the school is supporting them enough and that the will have progressed enough that by yr6 they will be ready to move onto the next level of education.

So many thing are puzzling, like the dd1's reports have a effort level next to each subject graded 1-4! I find that a bit strange to be noting a 4/5/6 yr olds effort level as i would like my children to be inspired so they are keen to learn and enjoy if not given a grade of how much effort they put in as in my eyes if they aren't putting the effort in it is probably because they are bored or have switched off!? Is this a 'normal' system.

educator123 Tue 19-Feb-13 10:25:13

To me if I child is engaged then the will be putting the 'effort' in therefore a low 'effort grade for a young child is a reflection on the teacher/lessons not the child!?
This is where I start to worry and hence why I started to look elsewhere despite the school being lovely and having a good reputation for success. Maybe I read too much into it all...

simpson Tue 19-Feb-13 10:26:57

But LandS what do you do when your child can read?

Once they have learnt to read obviously they build on their comprehension and start to analyse the text in more detail. Why were certain words were chosen over others etc, which I would not have known if I hadn't spoken to DD's teacher.

Yes they are taught to read, write and add etc but it's the methods used (by the teacher) that are crucial IMO.

learnandsay Tue 19-Feb-13 10:41:27

I don't think a person with no training could teach a whole class. But parents can and do teach their own children even if it's how to steal hub caps.

I haven't too many worries about what I'll do when my daughter can read extremely well. But my focus is on the three rs and not just one of them.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 11:30:06

Unfortunately even the best intentions can result in confused children

Twiceover Tue 19-Feb-13 11:38:05

"What I meant is that if you teach your child to read, write and do maths yourself, (and send her to school) then you don't have to worry about levels because you know perfectly well what she can do and what she can't."

^^Learnandsay, what is the logical conclusion of that? Do you continue to parallel teach your DD all the way through school? Will you be teaching her chemistry A-level (just for example) alongside the teachers so that you know what she can do??

And also, you know what she can do in terms of reading, writing and maths but how do you put it into context? Am not a teacher, just interested.

poodletip Tue 19-Feb-13 18:44:30

I think it was reasonably easy in KS1 to keep on top of what she was learning and what progress she was making. DS1 is in Y1 and I can see him progressing nicely. By the time she was in KS2 though she could already read (she could read, carefully selected, books written for adults before she was 7 though she rarely chose to since they weren't usually of interest), and the maths she was doing was using methods that I know nothing about (being completely different to the way I was taught at school). At that point it did become difficult for me to monitor progress without a clear indication from school of where she was.

Clearly, as I experienced, a teacher saying she was doing well meant nothing. Being told "ahead of expectations" meant nothing. Clear information about what level she is at and how that compares to her previous levels gives me an indication that she is (or not) making progress. I realise it is an imperfect measure but it's better than nothing. I should add that I'm more concerned to see that she she is making progress than what level she is at per se. If she isn't making progress what it the point of her going to school?

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 18:59:07

The government plan to scrap the current levelling system but haven't said what it will be replaced with

kawliga Tue 19-Feb-13 18:59:30

I agree with LandS that teaching children to read, write and do maths at least to a level where they can stand on their own feet in modern society is fundamentally the job of the parents. It is not 'parallel teaching', it is making sure your dc are able to be functional and participate fully in life. Because school is compulsory we support the teachers in the methods they are using, definitely, but to wash your hands of the matter and think it's the teacher's role to teach them and just report back to you on progress would be unwise.

Mrz not sure what you mean by training. A certain kind of 'teaching' is part of the role of parenting, and parents don't need to be trained to do the kind of teaching which is rolled up with being a parent and bringing up the children. Like LandS said it's not the same kind of formal teaching that goes on at school that needs training and professional expertise. No one needs training to be a parent and bring up the dc to be able to read and write and add, subtract, multiply and divide at least by the time they're old enough to go out and about on their own.

It is just utterly tragic when parents feel as if they have no way of knowing whether the dc are making progress with basic learning unless the teacher tells them! Then the teacher says 'great progress to level 2c sub-level 2.4 above national average' or whatever and the parents are happy but still in the dark, still no idea how well their dc can read.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 19:05:50

"training" as in knowing when to teach each step and not jump ahead so that a child has missed sometimes vitally important stages that will be required later. As parents we eagerly anticipate each new milestone and I for one have been guilty of impatience.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 19:10:36

Do you really need a number and letter (that's the sub level bit level 2 sub level C) to tell you how well your child is reading?

christinarossetti Tue 19-Feb-13 19:18:04

Well, tbh the numbers and letters do help me a bit. I feel reassured as to where she is in relation to national expectations. I don't particularly like the current system but, given that it's what's there, I'd like to know where my children are in it iyswim.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 19:28:47

Can I ask if the numbers and letters are more reassuring than the teachers saying where she is in relation to national expectations

kawliga Tue 19-Feb-13 19:51:54

The OP on this thread did not find the numbers and letters reassuring. On the contrary, not knowing what '2c' means made her feel like she knows nothing. No mother should ever feel like they don't know how their dc are getting on because they can't interpret the experts' numbers and letters. Certainly not when the dc are this young. Might be different when they're older.

Probably starts from birth when some midwives make mothers feel as if they know nothing, they need the midwife to plot graphs and charts and percentiles, weigh and measure the baby and compare him/her to the national average size of baby otherwise how will they know whether the baby is thriving or not? But that's another thread.

mrz Tue 19-Feb-13 19:59:37

I agree with the OP the numbers and letters alone mean nothing

poodletip Tue 19-Feb-13 20:20:50

No the numbers in isolation don't mean anything. Our school send them home with a letter that clearly explains where a child would be expected to be at the end of each year, what would be behind and what would be ahead. I also look at them in the context of where the children were previously so that I can see if progress is being made or not.

I'm astonished that anyone would send their children to school at all if they have so little faith that they would learn to read, write and do maths to a level that enabled them to function as an adult! If I had that little faith in school I would be home educating. As it is my children spend over 30 hours a week at school learning. They then have homework to do at home. The last thing I'm going to do is give the poor sods more work to do with me. I can't think of a better way of turning them off learning. It's bad enough getting them to do their homework from school. Their time with me is for relaxing, enjoying time together as a family and doing other non academic activities and hobbies.

learnandsay Tue 19-Feb-13 20:54:28

Well, no sign of confusion here yet, and my daughter can read, write (to some extent) add up and take away. I think having a fear of teaching your children basic skills is plain silly. If anyone feels that they can but chooses not to that's their own affair.

poodletip Tue 19-Feb-13 21:25:04

I'm guessing form that comment learnandsay that your DD is still very young. Wait until she's in KS2 and then see if you could still be teaching her maths without causing confusion. My DD was learning about Paradoxes in maths the other day. Any ideas how I should go about teaching her more about that?

learnandsay Tue 19-Feb-13 21:41:58

Quite right, poodle, quite right. When I said basic I only meant basic. I see no harm in taking an interest in their education at any stage. But not necessarily teaching.

simpson Tue 19-Feb-13 22:19:48

DS is in KS2 (yr3) and I sometimes don't have a clue what he is doing numeracy wise blush but I can still help him learn times tables etc but that's about it.

Poodle - my DD is still very young (reception) but is very self motivated to do more "work" at home whether it be reading (to me or herself) constantly asking what punctuation is etc etc. I do think it depends on the child tbh.

I do agree with you though that it is important that they relax at home and have hobbies etc but for my DD reading is her obsession hobby grin and I am sure some people (parents at her school) think I keep her chained to the desk reading/writing etc but obv. That is not the case!!

catinhat Wed 20-Feb-13 10:14:14

At parents evenings we have been told at what level are children are working at. (from year 1 at least).

I think the first reception parents evening was really about how well the children had settled etc.

As a parent governor, I know all the children are monitored for achievement and progress each year, so the information is all there is a parent wants to know.

Just ask!

poodletip Wed 20-Feb-13 13:23:09

simpson my DD reads and reads and reads and reads smile it's a great love to have, the love of reading. They learn so much without even trying. Again it means they quickly progress beyond a level where you can really effectively monitor progress at home. She now needs to be looking at a more in depth understanding of what the book is trying to convey. It's much easier when you are helping them with the mechanics of reading what a word says. Obviously I wouldn't and don't discourage my children from doing any reading writing or maths they want to do. I just don't see sitting them down to more lessons at home as necessary. Judging by how well they are doing, partly from seeing them progress through the levels, I'm not doing too much wrong wink.

poodletip Wed 20-Feb-13 13:23:55

My DD is better at punctuating than I am too hmm.

simpson Wed 20-Feb-13 13:32:49

Poodle - I agree totally. DD now needs to look at why certain words are chosen, look at what the illustrator has drawn and how it fits in with what the author has written and descriptive words used etc (according to her teacher) which is not quite so easy as the mechanics of reading!! grin

christinarossetti Wed 20-Feb-13 17:10:40

mrz, my children's school give half-termly reports with NC levels on them and in this instance I would rather they were just numbers and letters printed off the database than the teachers having to write about each child in addition to compiling the info for the database.

I agree that it only makes sense if you have some sort of 'key' ie 2a means your child can do x,y,z and their target is ...... , but tbh terms like 'number bonds', 'partitioning' and 'decoding' were all new to me when my oldest started school as well.

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 17:19:36

But exactly what does a 2c or 2b mean in terms of being able to do x,y and z?

As the sub levels don't actually exist in the National Curriculum all they really mean is that your child can do some of the things required in level 2 or your child can do most of the things in level 2 but not which of those things ...

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 17:22:12

so two or more children could have exactly the same letters and numbers but be able to do different aspects required of the level

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 17:30:52

I would also add that you only have to look at the threads requesting levels for writing to see that it is an inexact science

christinarossetti Wed 20-Feb-13 21:39:41

Yes, I know that mrz but in the context of my children's school giving out reports every half term, I'm glad that the teachers don't have to write something on each child.

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 21:44:39

Do the letters and numbers actually change over half a term?

If a child is expected to make roughly 6 sub levels progress over 24 half terms in theory the progress in half a term won't be measurable in NC figures

simpson Wed 20-Feb-13 21:49:38

Reports every half term!! shock

That must be a nightmare and possibly a bit pointless....

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 21:53:08

totally pointless

christinarossetti Wed 20-Feb-13 22:25:31

Of course they don't change every half term, or they'd finish primary in about year 3! Though children make progress within a sub-level of course.

Whether I agree with the reports or not is by the by as I have no say in whether they happen or not, but given that they do I'd rather a computer print out than teachers having to write on individual children.

And given that my children's school has a history of some children not making enough progress and not being spotted when they fall behind, this does seem to be an attempt to ensure that problems ie failure to progress are identified promptly. Whether this is the best system for this is irrelevant as it's the one that there is.

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 07:46:57

but the computer print out isn't going to change every half term either ...it seems the school is try and appease parents fears by providing useless information.

my own school has a policy of identifying those children whose progress is a concern and inviting parents into school immediately to discuss how the school plans to respond and ways parents and staff can support the child. No reports or printouts for these consultations just honest face to face discussion.

christinarossetti Thu 21-Feb-13 09:20:59

I completely agree that that's a better system mrz, but I have no influence over school policy and procedures.

In the meantime, I disagree that giving out levels and sublevels is completely useless - it will show up on the school data etc if children haven't made progress. I agree that they don't need to share the letters and numbers with the parents/carers but given that they have decided to give out a report each half term I'd rather a. that they don't create additional work for the teachers and b. that proper monitoring is actually being done in the school now.

Why it wasn't in the past is of course a whole other thread.

christinarossetti Thu 21-Feb-13 09:21:58

Parents weren't involved in the decision to give half-termly reports btw - change of management.

I find them useful Fwiw, though appreciate that not all parents or carers do.

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 09:23:03

It will show up on the school data whether or not the parents are given the letters and numbers every half term

christinarossetti Thu 21-Feb-13 11:19:07

Yes, I know. My point is that I find them useful but appreciate that not all parents or carers do. I would also be more than happy not to receive them, but I do feel reassured that the school is now properly monitoring progress (this has been a weakness in the past.)

poodletip Thu 21-Feb-13 13:00:34

christinarossetti sounds just like our school. I find it useful too. Of course it doesn't tell me precisely what the children have been learning but it does show me that they have (or have not) made measurable progress which is, after all, the important thing surely. We get printouts with the NC level and sublevel and an associated points score. It's been explained that each sublevel equates to two points on this score and they expect them to make 4 points of progress in a year so you don't necessarily expect to see a change in that each half term, and you certainly don't expect to see a change in NC sublevel each half term.

cloutiedumpling Thu 21-Feb-13 14:20:38

We don't have the same system in Scotland that exists in England. We are not given any information about the levels that our kids are at. We have no Sats testing either. As a parent it can feel as though school is a bit of a black hole. You send your kids there and speak to the teacher twice a year for 10 minutes but never really feel as though you know how they are doing. I'd love to get the information that English parents get.

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 14:21:38

It's all changing next year

Ruprekt Thu 21-Feb-13 15:28:29

How many children are in your class mrz? And how many in the school?

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 15:30:00

I have 26 in my present class and approx 250+ in school

Ruprekt Thu 21-Feb-13 15:38:33

Your school seem to be on the ball with so many things i suddenly thought maybe you only had 12 children in your class! smile

I work in a class of 30 in a year group of 90 in a school of 650!

Teachers i work with are worried about the children who are not making progress and how to tell the parents. I might suggest just inviting them in and saying it is as it is.

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 11:54:14

Mrz - just of interest, aside from levels. What is your opinion on class sizes and learning?

I ask as I am in turmoil about school choice atm my first two dc are at school dd1 in a class of thirteen (mixed yr2&3)
Dd2 class of 17 (mixed r&1)

It all seems to work well the children all seem to progress well, move onto secondary well and the small classes seem a bonus.

I've been considering a School move for other reasons but they would go into an average class of 25 but 30 in years 5&6 I can't help but think a smaller class must be better but dc is due to start in 2014 and one of four going in and the only boy although their will be 3 other boys in his classroom (year1s)

Don't know what to do for best all round!?

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 12:00:47

I think it depends on the individual schools more than numbers. Too small can be as bad as too large IMHO

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 12:21:28

Thanks, well the one they are at gas under 45 atm but within the village we live in, walking distance. Just had Ofsted - Good with outstanding features.
Really lovely family feel everyone looks out for everyone and nothing goes unnoticed. It is lovely BUT although they all play across the years the intakes can be small PAN 8 but in dc1 went in with 5 other made a 'best friend' who has now left, she is quite sad about it.

Dc2 went in as one of 8, 4girls and 4boys.

Dc3 due to start 2014 one of 4. He will be the only boy and then I have number4.

The other school has an extremely good reputation and constantly been outstanding for a long time although last inspection was 2010 (I know the framework has changed since then) but I would imagine they will do well again. There is 170 in total but large classrooms so worry it could get bigger although head says he doesn't want classes of more than 25 but council insisted they take 30 for year 5&6.

It's a ten minute drive, really don't know what the 'all round' 'best' option is, they are both good for different reasons.

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 12:29:28

The school my children attended had a PAN of 10 but was always over subscribed so mixed classes of 20 and 25. The school where I teach has a PAN of 30 (reduced from 45 to avoid mixed age classes) but has classes of 30+ in KS2.
both schools offer advantages and disadvantages so really it's down to individual preference.

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 12:32:32

From a teaching perspective (if the teachers are good) which is mostly likely to attain success and happiness for the child, in your opinion?

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 12:33:05

Do you think being the only boy going in in that intake would matter?

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 12:48:42

Being the only boy would be my concern ... how accepting do you think the older boys will be at break times and friendship outside school.

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 12:55:57

They play together across the schools older ones look after younger etc but having said that my daughters very good friend at preschool joined the year after and there friendship didn't respark.

So there is 3 boys going this sept one of which he talks about but i'm not sure if the would instantly re connect after a year of being at school. Then his other good friend goes up the year after ds,
which is a real shame.

I need something to push me one way or another as I've secured rare places at the other school until Easter but I've been in turmoil about whether to move the dds or not since before Christmas sad

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 13:02:10

So tough as the school they are currently at has a member of staff assigned full time to reception for phonics etc so that would be a teacher between 4 children for all of their EYFS but I obviously want an all round balance.

I should add he has 3 sisters so quite used to girls but that would mean quite girl heavy at home and at school!

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 13:03:37

I went through primary in a year group of 3 (2 girls and 1 boy) and the boy is still my best friend

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 13:53:35

That's good to know, and was experience of a small school a positive one? Hope you don't mind me asking!

Its a very tough decision with my dd struggling with losing a close friend and with the knowledge of my Ds's intake to know what is best the other school is very good, with lots in the way of friendship etc.
But we live in a community in a village so would feel a bit wierd not using the school.

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 13:55:27

I found it very difficult moving to grammar school where there were more pupils in one class than had been in the whole primary school

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 14:06:59

Yes that is something that has been mentioned, although of the children I've known move up to secondary surprisingly seem to do so with ease and in recent year have moved up alone or as one of two due to being in small year groups and able to choose between a couple of secondary schools.

I always thought it must be a really difficult transition but maybe the small size and nurture gives them the confidence to move on with ease!?

mrz Fri 22-Feb-13 14:15:38

I think schools are much more clued up than they were when I was 11

educator123 Fri 22-Feb-13 15:05:01

Overall I love the small school but i'm starting to see how friendships can become an issue with dd1s best friend leaving (to the other school) and Ds year having no other boys didn't really inside these things before.

Also the head is good which helps and she is nearing retirement so overall I'm starting to worry with two more to go through primary how it will be in the future

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