Do all schools use colour book bands in the same way?

(17 Posts)
ExpectoPatronum Fri 01-Apr-11 18:25:41

This is a question for teachers really, or for parents who have experience of moving from one primary school to another.

Disclaimer : I know that it's pointless, silly and unnecessary to compare children's attainment. I know that children mature at different rates, and that their skills in literacy form just one part of their education. I also know that reading level threads are ten a penny and everyone's sick of them grin.

So don't flame me, please.

My 7 y.o DD (Yr2) has made consistently good progress in reading since she started school. She reads fluently and with expression, her comprehension is good, and her responses to texts are usually thoughtful and quite mature.

I've long been frustrated with her school's approach to the reading scheme (mainly ORT with a bit of Rigby Star thrown in). She will be left on the same level of reading books for months at a time, and then miraculously, her entire guided reading group will be moved up on the same day. The school are completely unresponsive to any communication from parents on the subject. I've raised the issue on several occasions and to be honest, I've got to the point where I'm too tired to care. She rattles through the school books and then spends the rest of the week reading non-scheme books for pleasure.

However, I have 4 friends all with 7 year olds, all born within 3 weeks of each other. The children all go to different schools.

In casual chat this afternoon I discovered that all the others are reading higher level books than my DD (some reading lime, some reading the cerise / dark pink ones). I've known these children since they were bumps, and they're all bright little sparks with supportive parents (all boys, fwiw). I've heard all of them reading, they read similar stuff to my DD, there isn't any evidence of them engaging with the book at a noticably more profound level.

So what I'm wondering is whether different schools approach this whole colour book-band malarkey in different ways. Do some schools push their children through it more quickly, while others 'teach to the test' rather more, e.g. by the end of year 2, we need to get them all to a 2A, but we won't push them on beyond that.

What are other people's experiences? I know I sound appallingly PFB but as I said earlier, I'm really too ground down by the whole thing to care, I just think it's interesting that there is such disparity between children apparently achieving at the same level.

OP’s posts: |
JemimaMop Fri 01-Apr-11 18:33:09

In a nutshell, no they don't. In fact even different teachers in the same school can use them differently. DS1's Year 1 teacher made them read every book slowly and each in turn. The average level at the end of Year 1 was about ORT level 3. A new teacher took over when DS1 was in Year 1, she let them skip levels if they were ready, didn't stick to just one book scheme, and it wasn't uncommon to be on Level 8-10 by the end of Year 1.

Now DS1 is in Year 3 and I firmly believe that his teacher has made up his own colour system as DS1 is apparently on Orange but they have about 100 pages to each book so they aren't the same Orange level as everyone else has as that is roughly ORT level 6!

ExpectoPatronum Fri 01-Apr-11 20:24:54

Thanks for that, it's reassuring to hear!

I forgot to mention in my OP that not one single child in DD's class is reading any level higher than white, it's not just her! Demographically, her school isn't vastly different to the other children's schools, it's not as though it's in a very deprived area where children come in to reception at a much less advanced stage than in other areas.

OP’s posts: |
Lizcat Sat 02-Apr-11 16:43:59

Some schools even have their own banding system and you can find books from different ort or rigby bands in the same school band. The term free reader is used at lots of different levels one local school uses after ORT 7 other schools don't use it until the entire reading scheme has been completed.

allchildrenreading Sat 02-Apr-11 17:14:19

This is a personal bugbear but I'm not in touch with any schools now, though am deeply involved with struggling readers.
Imo, it is absolutely ridiculous that competent readers should have to read any scheme books after the middle of Year 1. On the whole, these books are narrowly focused, sterile, and formulaic or, at best, dumbed down. Once children are reading with a degree of confidence why on earth subject them to formulaic books when there is such a wealth of children's literature out there?
But for struggling readers structured phonics books are an absolute godsend.

mrz Sat 02-Apr-11 17:21:01

The whole purpose of having a book banding system is to "level" books from different reading schemes (and non scheme books) .

Fortunately allchildrenreading new reading schemes have high interest levels and cover a wide range of subjects.

Lindax Sat 02-Apr-11 20:56:25

the level of books they are reading is not the whole story.

ds is in Scottish P2 (= Yr1) and ORT level 6 and I believe could read higher levels. dn is in another P2 class at same school which is on ORT level 8, but I think her (less experienced) teacher has sped through the books and they have not learned the foundations - ds speaks about and understands (and explains to me!) what compound words are and illteration is, dn hasnt heard about these.

Even through I prefer ds's teacher approach, it's still difficult to explain to ds when dn boasts about being 2 levels ahead!

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squidgy12 Sat 02-Apr-11 21:09:07

Message withdrawn

rickymummy Sun 03-Apr-11 17:14:25

All my local schools run different systems too. I feel we are lucky, as the scool DS1 attends, has worked out it's own banding system, with a variety of schemes. Saved us no end of arguments between my competitive son and his equally competitive friends

mrz Sun 03-Apr-11 17:33:18

The book banding system has been worked out for schools and covers all reading schemes that is why it was developed. ~How schools work within that system varies as some will use one scheme, others a variety, some will expect children to read every book on a band others will move bands freely. But the actual colour bands have been worked out and schools buy a book with lists of all books matched to bands.

Sargesaweyes Sun 03-Apr-11 17:34:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ExpectoPatronum Mon 04-Apr-11 08:29:25

Thanks to all of you for your input. I'm glad that I'm not the only person who has experienced this.

Sargesaweyes, it's very interesting to get your perception as a KS1 teacher. My MIL is a newly retired literacy coordinator and KS1 teacher, and she says exactly the same as you.

My Y1 DS1 is in a similar position, he has been reading turquoise level books since November and is flying through them, and at parents' evening four weeks ago his teacher even said 'yes, he's made outstanding progress in reading this year', and yet he hasn't been moved along either. Seems like a whole school 'policy'.

I have made appointments to go in and see the head on several occasions and absolutely nothing is done about it. She makes all the right sympathetic noises, and on occasion the children (i.e. DD's whole group) have been moved up, but then the whole cycle begins again.

I am on the brink of 'opting out' of the school reading scheme altogether and just spending the time at home on supporting them reading a range of different texts, talking about language, structure, meaning and so on.

OP’s posts: |
JemimaMop Mon 04-Apr-11 10:25:17

mrz you say that "the actual colour bands have been worked out and schools buy a book with lists of all books matched to bands".

In my DC's school they don't start learning English until Year 3. DS1 is in Year 3 and is on the orange book band. Books within the orange book band include The Black Queen and Billy Bonkers Now to my mind that can't be the same orange level as ORT level 6? Which must mean that the teacher has created their own colour levels.

mrz Mon 04-Apr-11 18:29:56

JemimaMop there are set book banding colours ( I am not talking about ORT) for both KS1 and KS2 although I don't have the KS2 book at home at the moment

JemimaMop Mon 04-Apr-11 19:52:32

Are there different book banding colours for Foundation Stage and KS2 then? And would there be an orange in both?

According to the Reading Chest website (I assume that it is accurate) ORT level 6 is Book Band 6/Orange. Would that be the Foundation Phase Orange then?

mrz Mon 04-Apr-11 19:56:34

for example lime in KS1 is grey or a tan/orange in KS2

JemimaMop Mon 04-Apr-11 21:58:00

OK that makes more sense, thanks.

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