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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you think sometimes there is women"looking through parent goggles" going on?

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

Women? That should read "some" of course!

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

parent goggles are very common.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So yes, children are deliberately held back sometimes.

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

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

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

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

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

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