Going back down on reading levels

(79 Posts)
pointsmakeprizes Tue 05-Nov-13 13:13:21

DS is in Y1, just started stage 7 books, he finds these very easy and is able to read stage 8 and 9 books from the oxford owl website fluently and when asked questions seems to understand what is going on. I did mention this to the teacher who was adamant that he would not be moved up so that he could work on his comprehension. I was ok with this though I feel he is capable of more but trust the teacher on this. He is in the top set for reading, they all read the same book at school which is then sent home and then one unseen book every week for reading at home. This week he was sent home a stage 4 fireflies book and for the next three weeks will be getting only stage 4/5 fireflies book (the books are already listed in his reading diary). It is the same for all of the top group, one of children was already a free reader when starting reception yet is still only been given these books. Should I say something again or leave it, even though he is in the top set for reading, from his descriptions of what the abilities are, the children seem to vary considerably with some struggling to read some of the words and others reading them with ease. There are about 5/6 in this set. I am not happy with this set up as I don't think it is an accurate reflection of the abilities and I do feel annoyed that he is now going backwards. I have always felt from reception that his reading books have been too easy but I have let it go because I want to trust the teacher but I don't understand how he could be moved back 3 levels when I think the level he is on is already far too easy for him.

Periwinkle007 Tue 05-Nov-13 13:42:10

are these the books for the guided reading sessions? Does he get another reading book too?

my daughter is reading chapter books confidently but is only doing level 3 in guided reading along with the rest of the group...

Jinty64 Tue 05-Nov-13 14:27:37

Ds3 has just finished stage 9 books and his group have just had a stage 8 poetry book and now a fireflies. I don't think it really matters too much what he is reading at school. Ds is reading the Biff, Chip and Kipper time chronicles at home at the moment, I'm quite enjoying them. He reads and understands them without any problem. I know he is a better reader than some of his group (top) at school but he's happy enough and we have plenty books at home or can go to the library to encourage his reading. I think you will only annoy the teacher if you keep going on about it.

I think it would be worth at least asking about the apparent discrepancy though, just from the point of view that you can help at home.

I think I am just about ready to give up on worrying about levels to be honest.

simpson Tue 05-Nov-13 15:51:45

I would not be happy with this but I would not do anything as you have already spoken to the teacher and they have said that the situation is not going to change.

What would happen if you simply didn't read the school books?

My DD is in yr1 and gets stage 11 from school (stage 12 on bug club) but does guided reading at stage 7 which she is getting bored of as she did stage 7 (guided reading) for the majority of reception. But she hates school reading scheme books and sometimes refuses to read her home one, the teacher is fine with it and just asks me to record what she has read instead.

pointsmakeprizes Tue 05-Nov-13 16:47:08

They do guided reading in their groups, so were doing stage 7 before half term, this week they did a stage 4 fireflies instead, this book will be sent home next week as well along with another stage 4 book. We do reading at home where he can read chapter books eg the simple horrid Henry books, easy roald Dahl books. I write everything we read at home in the homework diary as well which seems to go largely ignored. The pace just seems incredibly slow, only two books sent home per week, one of them is one they have read in their group with the teacher, the other unseen.

thegamesafoot Tue 05-Nov-13 17:29:37

I've been meaning to post about this for a while now and never got around to it - matching ORT book stages to book bands is somewhat more complicated than most parents realise (and schools - even reading chest just matches the stage to the book band colour).

ORT created a PDF (in 2011 according to the copy I have on my computer) which matched their individual titles to book bands. Typically they've taken it down, however I've managed to link to a cached version, which although not a pretty, still contains the relevant info.

This shows that stage 4 Fireflies actually go from blue to purple and stage 5 from green to gold. Of course your DS's teacher may or may not realise this (DDs previous school didn't, current school seems to have their scheme following the information contained in the link below). As Fireflies are nonfiction could she have chosen the books due to the topics they cover matching with topics in other lessons (imagine a hopeful emoticon)?

Newer versions of these books will have the book band colour as well as the stage, but I don't think the older versions do - certainly there seems to be some confusion as people usually equate, for example stage 9 with gold, stage 10 with white and stage 11 with lime, which is roughly how it goes, however some stage 10 books are gold, stage 11 runs from gold to lime, 12 white to lime and only at stage 13 are all the KS1 books lime and this variation is more marked in the middle stages of the scheme.

If I were you I'd be inclined to ask her firstly whether he has ever failed to answer any of her comprehension questions correctly and if so what sort of questions were they - if you are not comfortable with this line of questioning then get some detail about exactly what it is she wants him to be able to do to demonstrate this improved comprehension she is seeking from him. The result, hopefully, will be the same, either she'll provide you with the detail because there are areas he needs to work on, or she'll struggle because it's more about holding him back while the others catch up .... or possibly some other reason I haven't thought of yet grin

Here's the link.

PS sorry for epic post length!

simpson Tue 05-Nov-13 17:57:44

Also are the fire flies ones non fiction?

DD tends to get non fiction books lower than her fiction books sometimes.

soorploom Tue 05-Nov-13 20:12:20

my ds is similar- reading books at home way beyond what he does in class. at parent evening teacher explained that they are doing simple comprehension questions on their stories and have to write down answers. so although his reading and comprehension is fine, the simpler stories are giving him a chance to practice reading, understanding and answering questions with spellings that are still mainly phonetic. spellings start after next break. I have stopped worrying about reading levels as long as ds is enjoying reading

Periwinkle007 Tue 05-Nov-13 20:12:20

the gamesafoot - it is still there on their website somewhere - the link I mean, and they emailed it to me last year. I found it quite interesting - especially as our school just have stuff by the stages not by the actual level listed here.

yes Simpson - fireflies are the non fiction ones.

sadly I am still none the wiser why my Yr1 DD who is above Book Band 11 is still on Book Band 3 guided reading (am assuming top group given who is in it) which is what her younger sister is reading... I can't even be bothered to mention it now to the teacher - we have other, bigger issues to deal with before getting to that one.

soorploom Tue 05-Nov-13 20:12:30

my ds is similar- reading books at home way beyond what he does in class. at parent evening teacher explained that they are doing simple comprehension questions on their stories and have to write down answers. so although his reading and comprehension is fine, the simpler stories are giving him a chance to practice reading, understanding and answering questions with spellings that are still mainly phonetic. spellings start after next break. I have stopped worrying about reading levels as long as ds is enjoying reading

simpson Tue 05-Nov-13 21:58:51

According to DD's teacher, in order to assess her reading correctly, her writing needs to catch up a bit so possibly the same thing is happening here.

Reading easier books to work on more detail (maybe to write comprehension answers down) for the longer goal iyswim. However I understand the frustration DD is totally fed up with guided reading (it's the only thing she moans about in an otherwise fab yr1 so far).

pointsmakeprizes Wed 06-Nov-13 08:13:07

Thanks for all your suggestions, that PDF link is very useful, I see that some of the books he will get over the next couple of weeks are book band 6 even though they are fireflies stage 4 so the discrepancy is not as much as I thought. We have parents evening coming up soon so I will wait until then to mention it again. They are working on writing sentences and started spelling tests this week so it would make sense if they have gone down levels to allow their writing to catch up with their reading. However it does have a knock on effect on my son because it knocks his confidence as his immediate reaction normally when we read books from the library is that they are too difficult for him, until he starts reading and he finds he actually enjoys them!

Romily Thu 07-Nov-13 17:41:07

What is also important to remember is that a teacher will be looking to see how a child engages with a text, how well they can understand what is going on within a text and their ability to answer different styles of questions. Often a child can read to a high level orally however they need a more simplistic text to engage with successfully. Just keep him reading challenging texts at home for fun until the discussion with the teacher takes place.

terribleteethinitsterriblejaws Thu 07-Nov-13 17:50:10

Guided reading books should be one level higher than the reading books sent home. Guided reading is a focussed, planned reading session where a teacher teaches a new skill and has an assessment focus to observe. I would be concerned if my child was reading at a lower level in a guided reading session.

Periwinkle007 Thu 07-Nov-13 20:36:28

could it be that if they are just starting guided reading then they are starting easier to introduce formally the more basic skills and then the better readers will move on with their group to harder text? I am hoping this is the case.

terribleteethinitsterriblejaws Fri 08-Nov-13 15:33:58

I think it is best to talk with her teacher to see what her reasons are, but i know that in my class when i start guided reading (spring term) the children straight away start on the level one higher than their individual reading books. I know the children and have on going assessment to judge the level that they are reading at, i would not need to move them down a level if i read with them regularly and know that they are confidently working within a level. The assessment focusses being taught in a guided reading session would be from the level your child is at and their reading targets. Have you seen your dd's reading targets?

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Fri 08-Nov-13 19:28:56

Yes same here.

DC reading much more complicated books at home, George Marvellous Medicine, The Witches, and is on Book stage 3?!

She also has a very good understanding of the stories, however I can see the writing side would not have caught up, so perhaps that is why my DC is also being held back?!

columngollum Fri 08-Nov-13 19:36:44

If the school doesn't mind how much or how little attention the family pays to its reading scheme books then having books massively at odds with the child's ability (in either direction) isn't a major problem. But if the school insists on a ritual being carried out nightly with marks in the home reading diary then the parent has a right to insist that the reading book bears a reasonable link to the child's ability otherwise the whole thing is a waste of everybody's time and effort. (Sometimes that time and effort comes at a cost.)

Periwinkle007 Fri 08-Nov-13 19:56:56

reading targets? erm no - we don't get to see any targets. I have no idea what NC level her reading is - just that her individual reading is chapter books and beyond book band 11.

interesting Elf - glad we aren't alone.

My daughter's writing is very strong - I was told that at the end of last year and at parents evening in October (along with her maths and reading also being very strong but no more info than that).

pointsmakeprizes Fri 08-Nov-13 23:35:56

They have been doing guided reading since reception, DS states that they do not do 1-2-1 reading at all only in the groups. DS has good writing skills, would easily be able to write a story of 5+ interesting sentences though he would need help with spellings. The other day he wrote 2 sides of A4 a story out of his own interest. In terms of reading, I don't see how he is learning anything new at school, he would have been reading the stage 7 type books months ago with me. Again his maths is way ahead of what they are doing at school, he would be able to add and subtract triple digit numbers. I was told that he had an IEP in reception, yet they are still working on number bonds up to ten and I don't see any evidence of him doing anything different.

We haven't been made aware of any targets. He has a reading diary and we have to mark down what he reads every night and how long it takes him. The way the homework is set at the beginning of the week, it seems that he should be reading a bit of the 2 books every night, however he finds them so easy that he will read them all on the first night.

The more I'm thinking about it, the more annoyed I'm getting again! I know its good that DS goes to school and is happy because he finds everything so easy, but he also loves to learn and it just seems that he's waiting for others to catch up with him.

freetrait Fri 08-Nov-13 23:49:56

Just think of guided reading as a community activity grin. And reading is reading. And understanding and enjoying. DS is Year 2 and I can't be bothered to be bothered anymore if that makes sense. He can read and understand and will get better at both as he loves books, he reads and we read. And his spelling ain't bad either smile.

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 00:14:35

I think you are approaching this from the wrong angle. Reading is a pleasurable activity is it not? Stop focusing on levels and the teachers opinion - start focusing on your child's interest in reading - take him to the library and help him choose books, they are often more interesting than the rubbish at school, they can read the school books too but your ds's teacher has 30 other kids...draw your own conclusions on her knowledge of your child's ability on a day to day basis.

Focus on your ds's love of reading, seriously forget about levels - the child who finished the reading scheme first in my dc's class really hated reading by the time he was done with the scheme - not much depth to that achievement! Hopefully by now he has rekindled his love, just be careful what you wish for!

pointsmakeprizes Sat 09-Nov-13 00:40:23

I do take my child to the library to pick books, hence I know what he is capable of reading. I would like to see him progress at school too and I find it sad that it's down to the parent in a class of 30. Though it's true I have become far more obsessed with levels then is healthy. It's difficult not to when your child is constantly assessed by the government and what level they are at defines their school days.

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 08:48:33

There comes a time when you have to step away, allow the school to do their thing and you do yours - pick your battles, this one is in your gift, you can give your child a love of reading - help him choose interesting and exciting books. Our school just wanted the kids to read every single book in every single level - the books were awful, the battle with the school was futile - they had their approach and no matter how crap it was they were going to stick to it.
I was determined for my dcs to be happy confident readers, you'd think that sooner or later the teacher had to catch on but it wasn't till they moved classes that the next teacher expressed surprise at ds's reading skill.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 10:11:45


We were told at the meet the teacher at begining of year 1, that every year they get the " My child can read more than what they are getting". She said " We can only go by what we see in class, your child might be reading Harry Potter at home, but if we hear something different at school that is what we have to go on".

My DD reads her Books 3's in a very robotic stilted voice! Its hard I find to inject expression into " Biff caught a fish", "the fish jumped off the line" "Dad tried to catch the fish" "The fish swam away, Dad got wet" etc!

I found it an odd way round of looking at it.

IE if you only listen to them reading stage 3 then you are only going to hear stage three. what if we sent in a more advanced book and you listened to her reading that.....then you can truly decide cant you!


I can understand her being held back whilst her writing catches up though.

However if there is no ryhme or reason to them being held back, it is an annoying waste of time having to listen to her read these books.

Its parents evening soon so will see what they say then.

BTW in the front of our reading book record there is a "books I have read" lits, so there I have started to write down what we are reading at home eg, Gearge MM< parent one page, DD one page etc.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 10:17:02


Sorry points just saw this

"I write everything we read at home in the homework diary as well which seems to go largely ignored".

I agree the pace does seem slow.

This is state school. They say they match work to every childs ability but then we get this confused my friends DC in Private is on Flat Stanley books and has been move up a year due to reading and Maths.

columngollum Sat 09-Nov-13 10:20:16

Has anybody tried boycotting the reading diary until they got decent scheme books? If so, what happened?

Sounds good to me.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 10:21:07

allow the school to do their thing and you do yours

Snow, really? Allow the school to do their thing even if its woefully at odds with the childs ability?

We were told all the children would be naturally at different levels, and they would match those levels.

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 10:27:15

Don't agree with holding a child's reading back till their writing catches up. Ds is a passionate reader but his writing has always been a struggle, his fine motor skills and organisation skills are poor and they have little to do with his reading ability. And further to this - he felt successful at reading and it helped build his confidence, holding his reading back till his writing caught up would have been incredibly destructive.

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 10:33:42

All I'm saying is that after talking to the teacher, she remained convinced that ds wasn't capable of reading, she was very rigid in her opinion....it was a battle not worth fighting, even the ht refused to tackle her!

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 10:42:08

Snow that kind of attitude makes my heckless rise.

What a dreadful attitude for a teacher to have.

Even more how horrific that the head didn't feel he/she could tackle her.

pointsmakeprizes Sat 09-Nov-13 13:54:28

It seems that we are not alone in feeling this way about reading schemes. The school also seems obsessed about having to read every book at each level. In reception, he finished stage 5, instead of been given stage 6 he was then given more stage 3 and 4 books to read. All this consolidation business is getting tiring, I would rather he wasn't given any books to take home so we can just do our own thing but we are given a whole spiel At the beginning of every year of how much the parents are expected to be involved, yet it's very much a one way thing where the school dictates everything with little flexibility. Is this the way it is just because he's at a state school. In reception when I asked about DS being given more challenging work, the response was 'I have 30 children in my class, I don't have time.' This is a class that also has two teaching assistants. We were then given optional extra work for him to do at home, defeating the purpose entirely as we already do extra things of interest at home and all it would have done was widen the gap of what he is doing at school and what he is doing at home.

It's a good point that if a child is given stage 3 books, they will only give you back stage 3 reading and comprehension.

I'm trying to get all sides of the argument before parents evening, I don't want to be continually harping on about reading levels with the school as they are very fixed and I am also coming to the conclusion that I need to give this up. As I have mentioned before there is at least one other child who is reading at a higher level, yet they are also been given the same books as DS. I hope I am not coming across that I think my DS is exceptional or gifted, I am not delusional, just increasingly frustrated.

Runoutofideas Sat 09-Nov-13 14:12:31

Is your school an infant school then junior, or all through primary? I had similar issues with my dd1 who could read pretty fluently when she started reception. The infant school never seemed to push her or challenge her adequately in reading, as they could see straight away that she would tick their National curriculum level 3 target box without any effort from them.

Once she started juniors they assessed her as a 4b in yr 3, which is where they expect children to be when they leave yr 6. She is now being appropriately challenged by her class teacher - good books are being recommended to her and it is a challenge to stop her reading too late into the night! I agree with all those who say foster the love of reading without getting too bogged down by the levels. Within a year or so lots of them won't be on specific reading schemes anyway.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 21:01:53

* In reception when I asked about DS being given more challenging work, the response was 'I have 30 children in my class, I don't have time*

Yes we keep getting this rammed down our throats too.

However our teacher did say the children will be given work that meets their level.

As you say there are teaching assistants too.

If 30 is such a horrific number to deal with meaning they can't deal with so many things, not just giving appropriate books then maybe it isn't working as an education system and they need to do something about it?

Our school has expanded loads, so why to accommodate more pupil's when maybe they need to expand to accommodate smaller classes?

Also, with this massive amount of, 30, does it not make their work easier to be informed by the parent, by the way, so and so can actually read more than what you give?

To be honest, I am not really bothered if they listen to her read at all.

I have heard some mums complain that their DC can read very well and they do not get listened too much.

This wouldn't bother me, as I would be monitoring her at home.

I would rather she was on appropriate books and not listened to at all at school.

It gets confusing for the child, to be doing one thing in school then another at home, it sort of makes them think they have to dumb down as thats what is expected of them, yet they know they can do more.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 21:07:11


I know a gifted child, my DD is no where near, she is just normal, but she has clicked with her reading and is great at it smile.

I am dreading parents evening bringing this up.
I am not sure what I will say yet.

I have to say though, I had little trust in the state school system and now, am at a cross roads with it.

If they do this with reading, where its sooo easy to tell if a child can read well or not....how do they do with Maths and things confused.

Going to see how they handle it at parents evening and if its not a good result will just have to try and educate her myself, but I am crap at Maths

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 21:16:25

We moved school after infants, not surprising given how weak the HT was and ds's biggest fear was being put back on the reading scheme - that says it all - remove a child's choice of reading materials and the effect is never great. I recall now that the teacher wasn't happy that ds only enjoyed fiction and just tolerated non fiction and therefore she'd hold him at a lower level till he learned to like non fiction. Well he excelled anyway - it took till he was 10 till he really switched on to non fiction and there is no stopping him him.
I ignored his teacher, they don't always know better, they don't always know your child's ability and interests better than you do. We do have a choice, we just have to take it, reading materials at home are our responsibility.
Finally I agree that partnership with the school is the most beneficial approach for your dc but it has to be true partnership and not bullshit...propping up an old fashioned teacher who was out of her depth. Have faith in your own knowledge of your child, despite what the school say, I wish I'd have had more of that.

LastOrdersAtTheBra Sat 09-Nov-13 21:39:11

With DS1 I have often thought the school are doing what makes ofsted happy, instead of what suits him. I believe they are judged on 'value added' so the level a child enters the school is largely irrelevant, provided they go up by 1/2/3/whatever levels per year as expected, or more levels than are expected.

DS1 could read nearly fluently when he started reception, was started on a fairly low level (can't remember exactly which) and moved up all the time. We'd have a reading diary with a colour on it, we'd have a couple of books, then it would change. His reading only improved by a fairly marginal amount over the year, but according to the school he went up by 4 (5?) levels during YR, which makes it look like he's made stunning progress since he's been there hmm.

simpson Sat 09-Nov-13 21:58:56

Elf - what would happen if you refused to read stage 3 books and just wrote in the diary "DC did not want to read bloody Biff (stage 3) so we read Roald Dahl instead?"

There have been several times DD has refused to read her school books and reads something else and the teacher does not seem that bothered.

The school seem ok with her reading books although keep her on scheme type books till DD (yr1) hits the magical NC level 3 (school bloody policy).

Guided reading seems different and is only on stage 7 which DD hates and so therefore does not try and just tunes out (she has been doing stage 7 since the beginning of reception, initially 121 and then guided reading as others got to that stage). I think we have parents eve coming up so will mention/ask about it.

simpson Sat 09-Nov-13 22:02:31

Oh elf your comment on maths reminds me that on Friday in numeracy (according to DD) they were doing subtraction with numbers to 20 and DD wrote at the top of her maths book "I am bored of numbers to 20!" And then she did 276-274=2.

Now DD IMO is not amazing at maths but is obviously bored by the slow progress.

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 22:03:53

Lies, damned lies and statistics - schools play the game, they are expected to, they are judged and scored on it...it's is not their fault...it is the result of short sighted politicians. But as a parent you don't have to play those games. Levels don't interest me, I care about my dcs interest in learning, I care about the effort they put in, I care about the areas they struggle in, I care not about Sats results...I expect I am not very popular with the year 6 teachers before I refuse to instruct my dcs on how to answer Sats questions, I am the only parent who has refused to buy a revision guide for practicing Sats - I'll easily live with my decisions and I'm confident my dcs will benefit from encouragement on more centred on enjoyable life based learning at home than target driven textbook learning.

pointsmakeprizes Sat 09-Nov-13 22:16:15

Elf - we are in a similar position with the same views. We have also been told that all children are set work for their levels yet I don't see any evidence so far apart from the reading groups. I will have to ask again about this at the parents evening.

I am wondering now if this is a policy by the school to make the eventual sats results look better than they really are. There are a lot of bright children in his school, I can't believe that they are not aware that they are holding some children back.

What harm would it do to give ds a more difficult book and just see if it is suitable. They dont even want to try and are adamant that they have to go through all the levels. He could read a bit before reception yet had to go through all the wordless books as well.

As another poster has mentioned it also impacts on their confidence as ds is always asking why they are giving him easy books.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sat 09-Nov-13 22:33:24

I have to say I am totally ignorant on SATS.

Good luck at parents evening! Let us know how you get on Points.

Simspon that made me grin re does not want to read Biff, wants to read Roald Dhal.

Just remembered DD was moved to stage 4 this Friday after teacher heard her read, but there was a note to do comprehension. But again, I always ask her to explain the story to her baby sister (to get her to do it), but on the longer books we are reading at home and she does grasp the story, the nuances, and lots more besides.

So again, asking us on comprehension on the Biff makes me a little confused its as if to say dont let stage 4 comprehension leave her behind...

Oh well, I am new at this game, I suspect its not going to be the last frustrating contradiction that will occur. smile

pointsmakeprizes Sat 09-Nov-13 22:47:14

Surely comprehension is tied to interest as well. Give a child a book they enjoy, they will want to discuss it and ask questions. How much comprehension work can you get out of book that has about two sentences per page, it's like trying to get blood out of a stone. It seems to me that teachers can use comprehension as an excuse to not listen to what parents are saying as they can always move the goal posts on this.

Snowbility Sat 09-Nov-13 22:52:24

As far as I'm concerned if a child is enjoying a book there's a damned fine chance they are understanding that book. No doubt some kids read like drones but not many, I suspect.

simpson Sun 10-Nov-13 00:05:03

Pointsmakeprizes - I agree totally. DD hates reading scheme books and totally tunes out (she hates Biff etc and Project X "those stupid books where they wear silly watches that make them shrink" - guess which books she does for guided reading?!)

Ok, her situation is not as dire as some kids on here and the school know she is v bright but surely teaching a love of reading (if a child can read) is more important?

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 11:01:43

All I know is a friend whose 6 year old can read at 11 year old standards, is reading books appropriate for his level.

In a private school.

I have not asked about his writing, whether he can write to that level, shall ask her.

pointsmakeprizes Sun 10-Nov-13 17:01:29

Good idea elf, it would be interesting to see what his writing and spelling is like. No doubt if that boy was at a state school he would be reading stage 4 kipper and biff and constantly told that he needs to work on his comprehension.

mrz Sun 10-Nov-13 17:41:47

Often books appropriate for a reading age of 11 have content which isn't appropriate for 6 year olds regardless of whether they attend a state or private school.
OP state schools can and do provide suitable books for all levels of ability don't make assumptions based on your experience ... for the record we don't possess a single Biff et al book

ClayDavis Sun 10-Nov-13 19:23:24

I'll add to what mrz has said by saying that my niece was reading Biff and Chip stage 2 at school and Roald Dahl at home. In a private school that usually gets good recommendations on MN. She didn't get books anywhere near her actual reading ability until she moved to a state primary.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 19:35:22

Often books appropriate for a reading age of 11 have content which isn't appropriate for 6 year olds regardless of whether they attend a state or private school

often but not always . confused.

His parents are very aware of him growing up before his time, they play down his many talents and he is on books that are appropriate for his reading age and his actual age.

mrz Sun 10-Nov-13 19:38:38

no occassionally they do have suitable content but that is the reason why publishers considered putting a rating system on books similar to that used for films and digital games

mrz Sun 10-Nov-13 19:40:53

and why some publishers are now producing books aimed at able young children

Snowbility Sun 10-Nov-13 20:00:16

We had many inappropriate books come our way from school. Holocaust for 6 year olds anyone? I'm sure lots of schools think carefully about age appropriate material but don't take it for granted.

ClayDavis Sun 10-Nov-13 20:14:14

That can definitely be an issue in commercial schemes that go right up to age 11. Certain levels are aimed at certain year groups and if you follow the scheme blindly you can end up with inappropriate books. If you drop off it a bit earlier and use 'real' books you can tailor it a bit more to the needs of the child or develop a selection of books that have higher reading level but more appropriate content.

It works the other way to with lower ability readers in KS2 still reading low level ORT. Publishers seem to have been a quicker off the mark with low reading level high interest level books though.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 20:25:47

His parents are extremely capable and intelligent people and they and the school are very well up on all the angles and issues that may arise from his reading.

thegamesafoot Sun 10-Nov-13 21:16:16

Mrz - you mention publishers, as in more than one, however I am only aware of the ORT All Stars, yet I think that series only go to lime. Are there any other publishers that have produced books for able young readers at or beyond lime level?

freetrait Sun 10-Nov-13 22:36:01

Hmmmm, I am inclined to see it a bit as a money earning exercise by publishers. Books are books. We never had books tailored to us did we when we were young. We didn't get disturbed by reading things we shouldn't.....

I tend to think that the youngies won't engage in the unsuitable books so won't read too much of them, although parents should keep a watch out just like with the TV and computer grin. Then they will become old enough for it not to worry them. DS, now 7 is reading lots of stuff that is probably aimed at 10-12 year olds. I have chatted to him about how it is aimed at older children and to chat if anything worries him. Mostly it's Science and History stuff.

pointsmakeprizes Sun 10-Nov-13 22:38:16

Mrz, I really wish my DS attended your school and had you as a teacher. I think this thread is more for parents to let off some steam about reading levels, we know there are excellent state schools out there, in fact overall I do believe that my DS's school is good in many ways, but we are allowed to be unhappy and question whether our children are having their educational needs met at the schools they are attending. We can only go by what we know. I don't feel comfortable discussing this in real life as it may come across as a stealth boast which it certainly is not, perhaps on here we can give each other ideas on how to best approach our teachers to see if there is any merit in how we feel.

I am wondering if the children are kept at the levels they are and the progress artificially slow because the year groups only have access to those levels. Maybe there just aren't enough spare copies of higher level books to go around because they are all needed for the year above.

Snowbility Sun 10-Nov-13 23:44:06

At our old school it wasn't consistent throughout infants - painfully slow in reception, excessively fast in year one - skipping entire levels overnight - before they were properly ready and finally in year two just plod your way through the rest of the book scheme reading every single bloody boring book till it drained any sense of enjoyment from reading....it's why I say go you own way, encourage you child to read books that interest them - everything else will fall into place, once they have fallen in love with reading.

volestair Mon 11-Nov-13 00:50:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thegamesafoot Mon 11-Nov-13 08:32:24

Points - thank you for being so understanding about the inevitable venting occurring on your thread and you are right about people taking the chance to let off some steam on MN, it is after all a perennial issue!

My DD was lucky at both her current and previous school, as they both allowed her to progress up through the scheme at her own rate (comprehension was checked via PM benchmark in reception). On most occasions (though not all), I told the school each time I was aware that she needed to move up a level. If you pay attention it's obvious when a child needs to move up and I was never wrong (they would benchmark and she would successfully pass the criteria used in PM benchmark for the next level, or occasionally two).

If they had not done this, however, I would have bought scheme books and not bothered with the school books. To be fair though, DD loves scheme books. She was reading Biff, Chip etc. while 4 in reception and the stories suited her just fine, by the time she'd just turned 5 she was onto more varied stories (they had banana books in gold band, so finally a change from ORT) and now, at nearly 5 1/2 her current school has at least 3 schemes to choose from (in lime) - although there are 6 more levels after this (hence my other post to try and discover what those levels are all about).

I also like reading scheme books - funnily enough because of the variety and perhaps because our local library is very limited. For example DD recently bought home a book all about making buildings, with lots of info on scaffolding in particular. I was thinking hmm but she gave it 9 out of 10! At our library books like that tend to be large and dense and this puts her off (certainly she's never shown much interest in scaffolding before grin).

The point is that when reading for pleasure it's Rainbow Fairies all the way, so to me the reading scheme books serve a purpose, they're quite short and can extend reading in unexpected directions. Of course that's can, not that they necessarily will, depending on which schemes a school buys and whether or not they make children read every book in each stage (which smacks of engineering an easy life for teachers to me - although any teachers that do make children read every book are welcome to put me right!!).

PastSellByDate Mon 11-Nov-13 10:55:45

Hi pointsmakeprizes

Haven't read all posts but absolutely agree with snowbility on stepping away with guided reading.

I know its important to you but the reality is your DC is in top group anyway - and if the entire group has been given this book then s/he isn't being singled out in any particular way.

One thing that does occur is every now and then the entire class is given the same book and this can result in a radical drop in difficulty level for higher achieving children. Our school often failed to signal that this was happening, which resulted in lots of questions in the reading log about why such an easy book suddenly?

We also had the 'working on comprehension' thing at this point - I suspect that in some LEA's this is what happens at this stage. Again, snowbility is right - just do more at home. If you're bored with the reading - say so. Put it into the reading log (if you have one) - we used to write DD1 or DD2 is getting a bit bored with X so we read Y instead. In all cases the teachers responded positively - because in essence they just want reading to be happening.

I know it's hard but accept that the school is going with this reading scheme and is going to work their way through it in the order they chose (in reality HT or English Lead Teacher sets), so there's really no point going to battle on this.


pointsmakeprizes Mon 11-Nov-13 12:15:26

Thanks Past, I do agree with you and what snow are saying. This is the way it is and the only way I can probably change is to move my son to a different school which is not an option for us. It is frustrating that there are other schools that are more flexible and willing to adapt to the child's interest and pace but my school is not one of them. I will continue to write the extra books in the home work diary and hope that at some stage one teacher will acknowledge the discrepancy. I do want to get to the bottom of what comprehension means, I know from talking to my son and reading our own books that his level of comprehension is way above what his teacher seems to think it is so he can't be getting the most out of his time at school.

I don't want to tell my ds that we don't have to bother with the reading scheme because he is the type of boy who will do everything the school tells him to and it would actually upset him if he thought that I did not support his teacher 100%. I will just have to be content with coming on here and having a moan with like minded parents.

pointsmakeprizes Mon 11-Nov-13 12:19:31

I will report back on the parents evening anyway and if anyone else could do the same, it would be interesting to compare.

columngollum Mon 11-Nov-13 12:26:30

Rubbish scheme books and pathetic school assessment tasks don't (in the main) do any harm. They just don't do any good. But, short of taking the matter in hand oneself, there are no guarantees that moving the child, berating the teacher, or the entire education system, for that matter would get the child better books and better tests. He could have another teacher and another school and still have rotten books or good books and rotten maths instruction.

The only real downsides to rubbish scheme books I've found is children playing football with them because they weren't taken seriously as reading books or crying because they'd asked for better books and been refused them. Those two are genuine problems. But without those the real solution is to chuck the stupid book back in the book bag and fetch a Roald Dahl,

job done.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Mon 11-Nov-13 12:47:59

It has been very cathartic for me to hear your thoughts on this Points as they mirror my own.

Snow is right that this is an area where we can do our own thing with the reading.

Our teachers evening is at the end of the month.

However I do get lost when they talk, or on here there is talk of this scheme and that scheme and this and that Sats. So I will try my best to hang in there and see what is being said.

I am worried about how to broach the issue though.

column speaking from personal experience, I think for me at a primary that was beyond shite, I was confused and lost by my school. I think my DD's school is far far better than the one I went too.

I was a fantastic reader at an early age, but that never went anywhere. I was appalling at Maths and I was ignored. I became lost and school became about literally doodling every single day on a book. confused

Is there a website anywhere that we can check what they are supposed to be learning at each stage to make sure they are?

columngollum Mon 11-Nov-13 14:12:46

Elf, maybe better to start a new thread on your question, but in general I think you can find out but you need to scoot here and there and read this and that. You can read curricula and sites which make this claim or that claim. But each school is different and each child is different. Subject deserves its own thread.

pointsmakeprizes Mon 11-Nov-13 15:36:21

Elf, same here, I was a very able child both in reading and maths, to the point that my parents were told that I was gifted. Unfortunately I went to a number of very poor primary schools where I spent a lot of time unchallenged and bored. I did ok at secondary but nowhere near what my early potential suggested, it may have worked out this way even with an excellent primary education, I don't know. We just want to make sure our children fulfil their potential unlike ourselves. Perhaps if our parents had been better advocates for us we may have looked back on our primary years more fondly.

There is a site called TES which has some useful resources, I think it's for teachers only but may help make sense of it all.

mrz Mon 11-Nov-13 17:02:51

"Rubbish scheme books and pathetic school assessment tasks don't (in the main) do any harm."

I think for some children rubbish scheme books can do lots of harm.

mrz Mon 11-Nov-13 17:03:30

TES is for anyone

Justatiredmum Thu 21-Nov-13 11:26:24

Points, my daughter is in a similar situation: the books she reads at home are of a much higher level than what she gets at school. I spoke to her teacher about it (independent school) and she explained that in the first term they keep the children at a level where they are comfortable with the mechanics of reading so that they can focus on comprehension. It's a lot easier to talk about how a character feels or why he acts a certain why if you are not having to worry about decoding a new word.
This sort of made sense to me so I simply make her read the school book (seen as it's easy for her she flies through it) then read whatever else she wants.

pointsmakeprizes Thu 21-Nov-13 13:58:02

Just - good to get a perspective from independent end. We had our parents evening and it was acknowledged ds is reading at a higher standard at home. He still has to work on comprehension though he is ahead of the rest of the class on this so will be doing Y2 comprehension work now. So I am not sure what level of comprehension is needed to get out of ort stage 7? The main reason he is not going to be moved up is because his writing has to catch up with his reading which I find bizarre as I don't think even many adults can write as well as they read. Also they don't do any 1 to 1 reading at all just guided reading, which would be around 3 - 4 pages of a book per week. Another reason for not giving him harder books is that we are doing that at home anyway so there is no point. All in all most unsatisfactory but I knew this would be the case as whatever I say the response will be I have 29 other children in my class.

choccyp1g Thu 21-Nov-13 19:53:42

Not many adults can write as well as they can read. Otherwise I'd be winning the Booker prize instead of buying the books.

columngollum Thu 21-Nov-13 22:39:00

Well, if any and all literature prizes were as open to all as book shops are, maybe you would win a prize of some sort. (The book game is rather incestuous.)

Snowbility Thu 21-Nov-13 22:49:11

I think it's clear that book changing is very time consuming activity and a bit dull and questioning your dc's level suggests the teacher has failed to pay attention to your dc's progress - teachers don't like to lose face to parents, so you are going to get a bullshit response, the teacher has to defend their professional judgement, they will have a long list of excuses for parents who question their child's lack of progress in the reading scheme while reading advanced books at home. Just have faith in your dc, don't be tempted to stretch with reading, if it gets too hard it stops being a pleasure and you want it to be a pleasure....which usually means you need to forget school reading books.

simpson Fri 22-Nov-13 00:02:58

Oh dear.

I have had the same thing said about DD (yr1) although her writing is v good it's not as strong as her reading.

Her teacher basically says that a child needs to be able to do a reading SATS test independently in order to get a certain level (NC wise). Therefore her writing is bringing her reading down too.

I would question comprehension from a stage 7 book too (since this is what DD reads in guided reading).

I guess all you can do is take positives out of it (parents eve) the teacher has acknowledged he reads higher, he is now working on yr2 skills comprehension wise. It might be worth asking how they are going to bridge the gap between reading/writing. I know DD's writing is being pushed massively to do this.

lljkk Sat 23-Nov-13 18:18:02

My gut feeling about complicated OP is that if I didn't like my y1 child's reading books I would
a) go to public library for reading books
b) find fun things to read in other types of books
c) we can easily choose what books we like for DC (go in & change books ourselves). I guess this isn't possible for OP?

pointsmakeprizes Sun 24-Nov-13 09:43:07

lljkk - we are book lovers in the family, my DS prob has over 200 books at home and also regularly gets books out of the library so there is no shortage of reading material for him. I just really wanted to see why there seemed to be such a gap in what he is doing at home and what he is doing at school. I now know that it's the writing, I don't agree with it but it's something I will help him with so I'm glad I questioned it. A love of books is probably down to the parent to foster, great when the parent also loves books and has the time to really take an active interest in the child's learning. Not so great if you are a busy parent who has to leave that responsibility to the teacher. As DS spends the majority of his waking hours at school, I would like to think that he is being suitably challenged in all areas.

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