Do any other schools read EVERY book at each level?

(56 Posts)
PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 21:12:19

This is starting to piss me off. In DD's school they have to read every single book at a certain level before they can move up. They are expected to read every night, and she does read more often than not, but it is really becoming a chore. Just checked her reading record and she has read 50 books in Stage 11. Is this really necessary? I am really keen for her to love books, and this seems to take all the fun out of it.

Jojay Wed 25-Jun-14 21:16:21

Sounds bonkers. Sometimes mine have only been on a level for a week or two, and have even skipped levels altogether.

NaiceViper Wed 25-Jun-14 21:21:27

It's not what happened for us.

The DC stayed on a level until they were reading it well, with good expression and comprehension. Sometimes they'd jump up two levels in 10 days, sometimes stick the same level for a whole term. Sometimes things just click rapidly, other times it takes time and lots of practice.

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 21:22:59

Thanks Jojay. I did bring it up with the teacher a while ago but there seemed to be no option of skipping even a few books in a level. It is tempting to read them less often and opt for other books instead, but then I know she will just stay on the level for longer!

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 21:24:21

Naiceviper, see that system makes a lot of sense!

VashtaNerada Wed 25-Jun-14 21:27:32

We have the same, it takes aaages to move up a level. Is she a good reader for her age? I think it might be something to do with keeping them with age-appropriate books for as long as possible.

Clutterbugsmum Wed 25-Jun-14 21:28:57

I have a similar issue with my middle dd, she brings home 4 books a week which she reads in 1 or 2 days. But they won't move her up level because she will then be reading yr 2 books hmm. It's got to the point where she chooses books from her bookshelf at home to read, which are far harder then the books she brings home from school.

Muskey Wed 25-Jun-14 21:29:24

Dd old school was like this with one teacher telling me she didn't want dd getting too far ahead. Ironically this teacher also told me off for teaching dd to read before she started school and wouldn't believe me when I said dd had taught herself. My advice encourage dc to read whatever takes her fancy at home and pay lip service to what the school wants you to do

Meglet Wed 25-Jun-14 21:30:42

No. Mine tend to move up every couple of months.

I'd go insane listening to school books every night! They just get one book a week thanks God and it means we get to read our books the other nights. We mix Songbirds and Peter & Jane with helping to read proper stories.

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 21:34:59

I think she's quite good, but not so that she would be way ahead of others. She reads ordinary books at home eg Dick King Smith, Worst Witch etc. Her teacher told me she can't be called a free reader until she is in Year 3 (in September), so hopefully that will be the end of ORT then.
But then I have DS starting school at the same time, so the whole process starts again... argh!

VashtaNerada Wed 25-Jun-14 21:38:17

For us it's the non-fiction ones that drive us both completely mad. I actually cheer up a bit when Biff and Chip come back round for their next set of books.

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 21:38:43

Sorry that reply was to Vashta.
I totally would just leave the ORT books at the moment, except that I know she would then be stuck in stage 11 FOREVER grin
I am annoyed that this is bugging me so much as I feel like I am being pushy, but every day I find myself thinking surely that must be the end of stage 11 now? How many books can there be in a set?

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 21:41:18

Yes, non fiction! The other night she got a dictionary of Ancient Egypt! Who would ever read that cover to cover?

Clutterbugsmum Wed 25-Jun-14 21:46:28

Both my DD's would (10.6 yrs & 6.9yrs) But they are odd grin. To be fair DD1 loves history/Eygpt anyway and dd2 loves words/reading. DD2 has taken a dictionary to bed wiht her since she was about 3.

DD1 has been a 'free reader' 3 times so far but the school keep extending the reading scheme, she just become a free reader again after she got a level 5 in her mock reading sat her year 5 were assessed on last week.

WowOoo Wed 25-Jun-14 21:48:22

It's sometimes a case of limited resources and the time it takes to change reading books for the whole class.

I would just write in the book what else she's been reading. I sometimes say that i did some comprehension stuff or challenged my ds on spelling.

Books have a lot more value than just going through the reading. If you and she are totally bored read it yourself with glaring, silly mistakes and ask her to suggest an alternative.

My son is at the end of Y3 by the way and is sick of ORT too. Our school are struggling to give him anything that is a challenge but still appropriate for his age so I have to borrow them myself from the library. Hassle, but I know it's appreciated.

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 22:05:03

I would be v happy to do that Wowoo, but I feel in our school's case it would not be appreciated. I may be wrong, but I think they like the simplicity of their scheme and don't want anyone to interfere.

What sort of books do you borrow from the library btw? I do sometimes wonder about the books other people say their children are reading and whether they are age appropriate.

Soz8 Wed 25-Jun-14 22:10:07

I am a year 5 teacher and we don't expect children to read every book within a specific colour band. If they are ready fluently and have good understanding we move them up and even sometimes jump up a couple of bands. They are not able to improve their vocabulary and experience of reading different genres etc if the books are too easy and it makes them less motivated!

We also have diet reading for children who have finished the colour bands and they can choose from a selection of harder books across different genres. Our children also choose their own books within a colour band which works really well! smile

Ferguson Wed 25-Jun-14 22:12:54

As aTA / helper in primary for twenty years; NO, there is no justification for such antiquated rules to read every book, or even go through every level. Able children should be able to jump ahead when appropriate.

It sounds like they don't have confidence in their teaching methods, so feel they are 'playing it safe' with those silly rules.

Pretty sure DD did - there were certainly a LOT of books. And argh, the non-fiction ... though I do recommend the ORT book 'The Power of Plants', replacing every instance of 'plants' with 'pants'. Had me and DD in hysterics.

Year 5 now and I don't know what's going on with reading - DD is carting four school books about with her, and reading other stuff at home.

Penvelope Wed 25-Jun-14 22:19:02


We don't even a reading scheme, just a load of random books with coloured stickers on. Some are clearly ANCIENT and some are more modern Chip and Biff type ones.

They move up when teacher thinks ready. DD has skipped whole levels before.

Nannyplumismymum Wed 25-Jun-14 22:20:30

Good lord no.

My DS in yr 1 is a free reader thankfully I have managed to say goodbye to biff and chip.

We worked with the teacher to move him through the stages and she really took on board our views.

I think DD actually skipped 2 levels because they assessed her and said there was nothing to gain holding her back.

The system needs to respond to individual need.

What a ridiculous uninspiring system for the children it sounds ... DS much prefers reading proper books ,I think they get to a certain level with ORT where they just get so bored to tears with it and lose motivation.

SixImpossible Wed 25-Jun-14 22:24:35

What a bizarre and restrictive scheme.

Take her to the library and explore the children's section together. Let her choose whatever she likes, and you choose a few for her as well. After a few visits you'll get a feel for what works for you both.

Borrow a few books of different genres for yourself at the same visit. Modelling reading is also important.

My y2 ds is at the moment enjoying - ie reading to himself - Dick King Smith, Horrid Henry, Captain Underpants, The Beano, First News, National Geographic (kids magazine), Minecraft manuals, Lego Ideas book. I've been reading him Enid Blyton at bedtime, and he often reads ahead by himself.

Dd in y2 was getting into the Rainbow Fairies series. Think carefully about whether you want to go there. They are the crack cocaine of little girls' literature.

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 22:33:30

Thanks everyone. I am getting more annoyed! (Have also had a glass of wine) It is true she is becoming bored with the reading books and has to be made to read every night. I remember at her age I was a voracious reader. Obviously we are different people, but I feel like she would enjoy it so much more if she were reading something with more in the way of plot/ character/ enjoyment.

Jellyandjam Wed 25-Jun-14 22:37:20

My children's school do this. And must read every book in the scheme before being a free reader.
As I teacher myself I always found it very strange and not what I have ever done in any school.
Thankfully they both read lots at home so I gave up worrying about it as they were not going to change their system!

PatsysPyjamas Wed 25-Jun-14 22:40:40

We do go to the library at least once a week and have loads of books to read at home. I probably implied I didn't do that with my question earlier about age appropriate books. We have also done the Rainbow Magic thing but thankfully that phase seems to have passed (I am thinking about Babysitters Club books though, as I absolutely devoured those at a similar age, and I'm sure they were crap). The problem is really that because she has to read 32 pages of ORT a night, there isn't much time for anything else.

MegBusset Wed 25-Jun-14 22:42:21

DS1 seems to be having the same issues, he is in y2 and was a "free reader" at the end of y1 but his y2 teacher put him back on the fecking book bands and he has been on the same band (copper) since Xmas. He finds the non-fiction books reasonably interesting but the fiction ones are eye-wateringly tedious.

I pretty much ignore the school reading books now. I get him to have a read through them quickly the day before they're changed. He always has his head in a book and is reading stuff like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, countless Minecraft books, poetry anthologies, Roald Dahl, Harry Potter etc.

gamescompendium Wed 25-Jun-14 22:47:02

It seems ridiculous, is everyone at the same level then? What would Ofsted think about that? It can't even be how the scheme was designed, I always assumed the vast choice of books at each level was so if someone was on the same level for a while they didn't have to reread the same stuff.

Our school definitely doesn't make them read everything and as PPs have said DD1 jumped up 2 levels over the summer holidays last year.

As far as getting age appropriate stuff From the library I think that's pretty easy if she's reading Worst Witch etc, I'm sure the librarian could point you in the right direction if you want some inspiration, or look in the fiction section on here for age appropriate stuff.

Jellyandjam Wed 25-Jun-14 22:58:24

At our school they are not all on the same level (although they all start off on book one), as some children read through them quicker and others may only read a few pages each night or need to keep a book a bit longer if they are finding it tricky.
It's still very restrictive though as many children who should just skip through some levels are held back becuase they have to go through each one.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 25-Jun-14 23:10:50

no - ours can skip levels where appropriate, spend a long time if they need to or just a few books if they don't.

both mine announced in R that the reading scheme stories were 'rubbish' but they enjoyed the non fiction and poetry.

HouseofEliot Wed 25-Jun-14 23:54:18

Yes ours do that too. My Dd got to stage 16 and then was a free reader she loved chosing her books. Then the school bought in more books and she has been made to read them. Only 3 weeks left at school now.

SixImpossible Thu 26-Jun-14 00:41:23

32 pages every night?! Surely that's a typo?

It's less than a month until the end of term. Maintains her pleasure in reading is far more important than ticking boxes. I do t think I would be bothering with the scjool's books any more. I would be encouraging her in reading what she enjoys, taking turns reading to each other, discussing it to make sure she understands what she is reading.

Mashabell Thu 26-Jun-14 07:33:28

What those boring phonics books are meant to ensure is that children meet all tricky common words (any, many, only, once, other) often enough to recognise them by sight.

The official phonics doctrine is that children have to learn to grasp the relationships between between sounds and letters, including the variable ones, like a in man - mane, many or o in on - only, other. In their phonics lessons they get introduced to them all and their reading they then supposedly practice sounding out and and blending. When stuck on a letter, perhaps the o in once, they try to remember the various sounds they were taught for o.

In practice, children try and remember the tricky words as whole words, when they get introduced to them in little groups (e.g. you, group, soup), because reading the likes of come home, some dome, one bone, is really tedious until u can recognise those words by sight instantly.

Because 69 English letters and letter strings have more than one sound (see further down), the main ingredient in becoming a fluent reader of English is lots of practice - to meet all common words, especially the ones with a tricky letter or two, often enough so recognise them by sight.

Children who happen to be born with an above average visual memory become fluent faster.

Many English graphemes/spellings have more than one pronunciation. That's why phonics is an essential but not totally sufficient way of learning to read. Children need to practise lots of word recognition as well. - Hence all those dozens of boring phonics books.
a: and – any, father, apron
a-e: gave – have
ai: wait – said, plait
al: always – algebra
-all: tall - shall
are: care - are
au: autumn - mauve
augh: daughter - laugh
ay: pays - says

cc: success - soccer
ce: centre - celtic
ch: chop –chorus, choir, chute
cqu: acquire - lacquer

e: end – English
-e: the - he
ea: mean - meant, break
ear: ear – early, heart, bear
-ee: tree - matinee
e-e: even – seven, fete
ei: veil - ceiling, eider, their, leisure
eigh: weight - height
eo: people - leopard, leotard
ere: here – there, were
-et: tablet - chalet
eau: beauty – beau
- ew: few - sew
- ey: they - monkey

ge: get - gem
-ger: anger - danger
gi: girl - ginger
gy: gym – gymkhana
ho: house - hour
i: wind – wind down, ski, hi-fi
- ine: define –engine, machine
ie: field - friend, sieve
imb: limb – climb
ign: signature - sign
mn: amnesia - mnemonic

ost: lost - post
-o: go - do
oa: road - broad
o-e: bone – done, gone
-oes: toes – does, shoes
-oll: roll - doll
omb: tombola - bomb, comb, tomb
oo: boot - foot, brooch
-ot: despot - depot
ou: sound - soup, couple
ough: bough - rough, through, trough, though
ought: bought - drought
oul: should - shoulder, mould
our: sour - four, journey
ow: how - low

qu: queen – bouquet
s: sun – sure
sc: scent - luscious, mollusc
-se: rose - dose
ss: possible - possession
th: this - thing
-ture: picture - mature
u: cup – push
ui: build – fruit, ruin
wa: was – wag
wh: what - who
wo: won - woman, women, womb
wor: word – worn
x: box - xylophone, anxious
- y-: type - typical
- -y: daddy – apply
z: zip – azure

Spottybra Thu 26-Jun-14 07:38:59

No here. There's fiction and non fiction in each level. Teachers and I thought practical science abled ds would love the non fiction when in fact he hated it. So he reads the majority, roughly 75%, of fiction a couple of non fiction then jumps to the next level.

RustyBear Thu 26-Jun-14 07:53:57

At the school where I work, the books in the various bands are a mixture of reading scheme books and 'ordinary ' books that are at the same level. They are kept in the library and every child takes out at least one book at their level every time, even the very good readers.

But they all also are allowed to take any book they like, fiction or non-fiction, from the rest of the library, which is unlevelled. This means that children on lower levels always have a book tailored to their ability, but can take a story for someone to read to them/help them with, or a non-fiction book on a subject they like. But it also makes sure that children on the higher levels are actually reading something that stretches them, or introduces a new genre, instead of them always choosing easier books that they can get through quickly. Of course, if they do happen to be a Horrid Henry fan, they can read those as well as their book-band book.

diamondage Thu 26-Jun-14 08:29:22

It is tempting to read them less often and opt for other books instead, but then I know she will just stay on the level for longer!

In your situation I'd be tempted to just write non committal phrases, such as "great reading", "superb expression, very fluent", "excellent comprehension", whilst getting DD to read 32 pages out loud from books that she actually wants to read. You're not telling any lies and it's not like you haven't tried to tackle it via the teacher already.

As long as you continue to hear her reading out loud, ask questions to check her understanding (vocabulary and inference etc.) and ensure she reads from a range of genre, fiction, non-fiction, poetry etc. then she will come to no harm. In fact she will likely benefit by not having a love of reading slowly sapped from her by the drudgery of such a system.

In my view schools that do this are being lazy by not differentiating based on ability, which is, of course, what they should be doing. The school benefits because they don't need to assess children to determine whether they need to move up a band (or two), they therefore don't have to deal with parents querying whether their DC is on the correct band, other than by stonewalling.

Whilst I can understand that it must be annoying at times for teachers to have to deal with parental queries on whether a particular DC is on the correct band, I think it is perverse that you'd remove that annoyance by refusing to provide books based on reading ability.

I would not play that game, and being one of those parents, I would challenge the Head Teacher to provide me with evidence that such a policy meets the individual needs of the pupils. It might be worth checking the school's Literacy / reading policy, I highly doubt they mention the reading scheme being run in this manner. Out of interest how many of the DC gain a level 5+ in reading in year 6?

In DDs school the book bands go up to 17 (so six more after lime / level 11, lime being where the majority of schools stop). I don't have a problem with this (excepting misbanded books) because they don't hold the DCs back. There is currently a reception girl on band 16, who comes up to year 1 for reading comprehension and spellings. Now that's meeting individual needs.

Galena Thu 26-Jun-14 11:43:26

Yeah, DD reads well and she has only moved up levels when she has read all the books at her present level. It's tedious for me, but luckily she doesn't mind reading them, so we just read them once home from school, and then she reads other things later...

MasqueradeWaltzer Thu 26-Jun-14 11:44:35

At dds' school they are listened to periodically by teacher/TA who makes judgement whether they are ready to move up or not.

Definitely prefer that - your school's approach sounds like it might hold back the more able readers.

WowOoo Thu 26-Jun-14 13:24:25

I save threads and get recommendations from here PatsysPyjamas and then order them from the library. Our library has one fantastic woman who recommended loads of books.

He alternates between non fiction one night (I choose three and then he chooses which one) and then fiction of his own choice as long as it's suitable.

I wouldn't force ds1 read 32 pages a night to me or silently unless he really wanted to and we had loads of time. shock
However many pages in 30 mins is what we do.

I read one page and he reads the next sometimes. It's still useful for him to listen. The teacher is fine with this by the way.

Only 3 weeks to go! smile

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 26-Jun-14 13:36:20

we also do it in amount of time not quantity. school say 20 mins a day for yr1. sometimes I am lucky if she will do 5 mins but other days she will happily read for an hour so it balances out. DD1 reads to herself a lot, we listen to a few pages and she sometimes comes to ask us things when reading to herself. DD2 is only 5 so she still reads to us all the time for her reading book but often reads to herself otherwise

sunsout Thu 26-Jun-14 13:39:05

Mine move up according to their progress not how many books they have read.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 26-Jun-14 14:53:34

My DD has sometimes skipped whole bands when made a jump in progress. Some levels she has read every book, others just a few. Having said that if your DD only has a few weeks of Y2 left I'd probably just leave it for now and see what happens in Sept.

SixImpossible Thu 26-Jun-14 14:55:42

Please come back and clarify, OP. 32p must be a typo - there aren't that many pages in a Y1 reading scheme book!

SixImpossible Thu 26-Jun-14 14:56:50

Sorry, Y2 reading scheme book.

kesstrel Thu 26-Jun-14 15:26:40

Fascinating report by Ofsted just out on teaching of reading in Stoke on Trent. Quote:

"Inspectors noted that less effective schools did not move pupils on quickly enough to more challenging books and there was evidence from pupils’ reading diaries that not all staff responded speedily to parents’ requests for a book to be changed. In several of the classes observed, pupils did not read enough books or have their books changed quickly enough.
Case study of less effective practice Key Stage 1
All pupils had a reading book that they took home in a bag provided by the school. Books were banded according to difficulty and colour coded. Reading diaries were completed by parents and included informative, articulate evaluations. These were not acted on by teachers and there was little communication in these diaries between home and school. Parents were not sufficiently guided by teachers in ensuring that appropriate skills were practised or extended."

And there's lots more very interesting stuff comparing good practice with poor practice, and commenting on the number of schools apparently oblivious to the required changes coming in September.... ... upils-read

kesstrel Thu 26-Jun-14 15:31:46

Sorry, mumsnet system doesn't seem able to cope with the link, though it is correct. Try cut and paste in your browser.

I will have another try with a different page

PatsysPyjamas Thu 26-Jun-14 21:06:03

Sorry, fell asleep last night. I think the stage 11 books do usually have 32 pages, and she usually reads a book a night, although not always. The children aren't all on the same level as they are assessed in Reception and start at different levels. Also, they read at a different pace and some children read every night and others just a few times a week.

Will look up the school's SATs levels...

If DD doesn't have to do reading scheme books in yr 3 I will be delighted, but I'll still have reception-age DS to do it all with.

PatsysPyjamas Thu 26-Jun-14 21:32:33

Looked up the school and it doesn't look like any children achieved a level 6 in reading in 2013. 62% achieved level 5 of above, but there is no mention of 6. Is that really bad? It is quite a deprived area.

Pooka Thu 26-Jun-14 21:37:02

No, not bad (I don't think so at least). 62% level 5 pretty good I would have thought. Given that 4b is expected level at end of ks2.

Level 6 reading comp really tricky. IMO harder to achieve than level 6 maths because it calls for a level of maturity in inference and comprehension.

Pooka Thu 26-Jun-14 21:43:52

For context, the highest achieving primary in our quite high achieving borough got 74% level 5 or above in 2013. 100% level 4 or above.

It's a one form entry faith school in a desirable area with very very low EAL/SEN.

PatsysPyjamas Thu 26-Jun-14 21:51:07

That's reassuring at least! Not sure about SEN but I know the class my son is starting has 50% EAL.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 26-Jun-14 22:24:43

ORT Biff Chip and Kipper books have 32 pages from Stage 7 onwards. Book band 11 usually includes longer books too. Rainbow Fairies count as book band 11

bigbuttons Thu 26-Jun-14 22:29:07

My school does this too, drives me bloody mad. I have had to really fight to skip a level. Dc6 is now coming to the end of it all. I just lie now, sign the book off and he reads what he wants to.
I think the ORT is really good for beginners, but it should be used with flexibility.
The school I am teaching in doesn't use it at all and it's rather r
efreshing to see children choose books that they are actually interested in. yes, sometimes they are too hard or too easy, but IMO it fosters a love of reading.

SixImpossible Thu 26-Jun-14 22:51:11

I don't remember my dc bringing home any reading scheme books with over 25ish pages. Maybe their schools don't take the schemes as far, and move the children on to other literature at that stage.

Anyway, why should she have to read the whole book every time? If she's read it at school, ask her to retell it to you. Choose a page or chapter and read just that, discuss why whatever it is might have happened, or try to predict what is going to happen. Ask her what the character is thinking or feeling. Give 5-10 minutes to the school book, then move on to whatever book she will enjoy more.

PatsysPyjamas Thu 26-Jun-14 22:58:12

She doesn't have to read the whole book every night, but the book isn't changed until she has read it all. And given that she has currently read 42 books in stage 11, over 52 nights (just checked diary), it seems even slower if she only reads a page a day. I do take your point though - she would be better off reading something else.

diamondage Thu 26-Jun-14 23:43:58

That's the problem right there - this system is turning reading into a mechanical process - to try and get through an unknown quantity of books. It's crazy!

DD generally enjoys her school reading books, they are mostly banded correctly (except the ORT books which, imo, have been misbanded). Tonight she brought home Milly Molly Mandy, but choose to read Akimbo and the Lions. I'll just write that in her reading diary because she's not got to play the numbers game and her reading will improve as long as she's reading a range of texts, not just every book in a level.

FFS the banded book publishers, like ORT, produce very comprehensive tools for assessing children so that they can be correctly placed on their finely graded bands. No where have I ever read a recommendation that DCs should read every book in a level.

Maybe you should send the school a link to that Ofsted report ... or the governors!?!

pointythings Fri 27-Jun-14 08:13:15

My DDs' primary did not make them read every book in a band by a long shot. Jumping bands was quite a normal thing, and both DDs ended up being given the Jackdaws (harder books within a band) straight away when they went up a band because that was what they were ready for.

DD2 did get put back on scheme books for a term or so in Year 5 because the school brought in books up to Pearl/Diamond, but she found them quite enjoyable. She wasn't on them long either.

The school now runs reading groups for readers at all levels, and they tend not to use scheme books from Yr4 upwards - instead they pick 'real' books which fit into the level where the group is. I believe there is a resource somewhere which maps books into scheme levels, but no idea where it lives. It lets children read enjoyable high quality books alongside the phonics-based books so not a zero sum game.

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