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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

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 10:58:45

Let's agree to separate theory such as Whole Word versus SP from principles then. Yes. I'm sure common principles exist. I don't think I'm misunderstanding you. But nor do I think most parents know much about comprehension. I find it most likely that a parent who says "this book is too easy for my child probably means the language is relatively simplistic for my child and she can read it pretty effortlessly. And that's probably true. So, if it is true she probably won't struggle with decoding on the next level.

If she can't answer questions properly or gives vague and unfocussed answers, which I've read often elsewhere is a problem, then the parents probably aren't going to be able to understand unless you show them and they're willing to listen. (You say some are not.) But that doesn't mean they're wrong about the decoding.

Ideally such a parent would get her child some more complicated books from the library and leave the reading scheme to you. But I know that's hard for some parents because perhaps they see some other child being moved up when theirs isn't. I think the competitive parent element is a unintended consequence of reading schemes.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 11:04:02

I'm using the term theory to describe WW/SP rather than method because there is much ideological baggage involving supporters on both sides which has little to do with the method and is either theoretical or ideological depending on how you want to define it.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 11:39:02

I totally agree that there are parents who want to rush their kids through the levels.

I read with yr1 and2 kids and quite often in the reading diary the parent has written "X found this book too easy can we move them up" and when I have read that book with them they have struggled.

If a teacher comes out with a valid reason as to why a child is on a lower level than their parent thinks they should be ie fluency, comprehension etc etc that is fair enough. But to not have any more books/worrying about running out of books is not one of them.

DeWe - what a bonkers plan re reading levels for each year. Bet you were glad when that one went!!

No children are allowed reading books in nursery at my DC school (although her teacher did manage to sneak some out for DD) as the HT teacher thinks no child can read at nursery age.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 12:41:04

Presumably a teacher is always going to think her reason is a valid one. I have heard one or two parents call certain comprehensive complaints by teachers "bollocks." What reason the parent has for saying that I don't know.

Ideally parents shouldn't get too hung up on the colour band/level. But I know how tempting it must be if you see another child going up two levels.

The problem I have isn't with levels it's with individual books. Mostly I'm fine both with the colour/level and with the non decodable books. Some teachers on here have said it would be easier to assess my daughter for a different level than to go down into the basement looking for books from the 1970s. It just shows even teachers can get into a disagreement about what level a child should be on. And then there's the teacher generated argument that it's OK to have a child reading one or two levels below her ability but not seven or eight levels below it.

An option whatever the level is just to read the school books, close them and go to the library.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 12:49:27

The whole debate is based on a false premise really which is that schools can hold children back. As long as a parent has access to a public library the school can't hold any child back. All it can do is issue wrong reading books which can be ignored to a greater or lesser extent.

CharlotteBronteSaurus Thu 07-Feb-13 12:50:57

doesn't happen in our school
in fact, they all have "targeted teaching time" or some such phrase, where a small group of 4-5 miss assembly to do some small group teaching with the teacher. the DC who need extra support have this more often, but the DC who are performing best get their turn too. a couple of DC also go into the year above for guided reading.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 12:55:38

In DS's case he did not read the school books for the 2nd part of yr2 (because he didn't want to) but read other stuff instead.

In yr3 they have allocated time to read their books to themselves. I wonder what a child does who cannot read in their head though..

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 13:01:14

I wonder what a child does who cannot read in their head though..

That's one to ask the teachers.

On the subject of going to the library, though, I think that's why teacherwith2kids was worried for my sake. Because I think she thinks that if the school has (or thinks it has) a valid reason to keep my daughter on a lower reading level than she should be on (if she should be higher) and I keep taking her to the library, then whatever the gap between my view and the school's view is is just going to get bigger and bigger over time.

I suppose that could be a thing to be said against reading schemes (or libraries.)

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:46

I am a volunteer reader in a year 7 class. There is such a wide range of reading issues among the NT children I work with. One boy, for example, reads absolutely beautifully and with understanding, has a wide vocabulary and seemingly good comprehension, but if you ask him to tell you the important bits out of the last chapter, or to predict what might happen next, he can't begin to do it. So I would guess that if it was based on reading lists of words, he would have a reading age of about 14/15. But his understanding of how a narrative works is probably about 5 or 6. So i's not always straightforward.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 13:49:04

Doesn't the answer you get depend on how you ask the question?

If you close the book and ask what do you think happens next then the child is perfectly at liberty to say I don't know. It hasn't happened yet.

But if you ask do you think Gollum will ever get the ring back or do you think Frodo will succeed and throw it into fires of Mordor? Then you're probably much more likely to get a sensible answer.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:20

Absolutely. But if I said that to this child he would say "Yes".

I do know what sort of questions to ask!

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 13:59:13

If you offered this child a choice between two alternatives he would reply yes?

What would he reply if you asked him

Do you think your team will win the football match this afternoon or do you think the other team is better prepared?

IShallWearMidnight Thu 07-Feb-13 14:09:37

DD2 was moved off the reading scheme in Y2 because the head teacher decreed that she couldn't be allowed to move to free reading as "she'd run out of books". Class teacher quite rightly thought that was ridiculous, and let her bring in books from home for most of the year.

However Y3 teacher was't quite so enlightened, and insisted that DD carry on at the reading scheme level she'd left the previous November. She wouldn't have been allowed to become a free reader till at least Y4, which was one of the many reasons we took her out of school in Y3.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 14:17:22

Sorry, misread your post. Given two alternatives based on the book, he would choose one at random. Probably the first one offered to him.

He is quite capable of holding a normal conversation about things that might happen in the future. What he can't do is do the same from a book he is reading.

Of course schools don't hold children back. Each child has frequently reviewed individual targets which demand a minimum (actually a very high minimum) of progress. The targets are increasingly set by software and are based on the data coming from the pre-school setting. The HT, the LEA and OfSTED will all be on the case if children in a class do not make that progress.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 17:16:01

I currently read with yrs 1, 2 and 4 at my DC school so I know what type of questions to ask. Also I would not want things the other way round ie my child on too high a level which would (possibly) knock their confidence.

A miracle happened today (HT brought DD a KS2 book for her to read at the weekend).

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 17:37:23

Good for your daughter and the head teacher. As far as I can tell most people seem to be happy with the schemes. But I do think when parents get unhappy, unless they're resourceful, then things can get sticky and intractable. But I think you're right a child stuck on books that are too hard is worse than one on books too easy and access to a public library. With no available library the two situations are about equal.

simpson Thu 07-Feb-13 17:57:32

The only reason it is a miracle is because nothing like this happened for DS and he had to languish reading books beneath him for a whole year (obv. He read other stuff at home).

It was because nobody could be bothered to go and get books from another classroom.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:10:31

I'd be very surprised for a reception class not to have higher than red books in their classroom, especially at this stage in the year. Some children come into school reading very well already, at least 3 or 4 levels above this, if not more.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:14:47

I'm not sure that the room the books are stored in is a real barrier. If staff are motivated to give children the wrong books their storage location won't change that.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:15:40

Re keeping children back - this just wouldn't make sense to me. We have termly pupil progress meetings where the teacher, TA, deputy head and HT all sit together for an hour or so and discuss progress within the class. We have to show how much progress each child has made in that time. We look at some children individually and also look at each group of learners - girls, boys, EAL, SEN, HAP(high attainers), MAP (middle attainers) and LAP (lower), free school meals, pupil premium, statemented, BME pupils, Pakistani learners.... etc. The information is all entertained online and the pupils and groups are all colour coded to show their attainment bands.

If a whole class were showing as the same, regardless of entry assessments, we'd have some serious talking to do. It just wouldn't be possible to get away with it here, not in any core subject!

mrz Thu 07-Feb-13 18:19:36

We don't have any reading scheme books in the reception classroom or indeed any other classroom

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:19:47

As long as the child makes the necessary progress that's fine. But the child might be capable of making much more progress than the necessary progress.

Hulababy Thu 07-Feb-13 18:23:03

learnandsay - doesn't work that way though here as our target for every child is already above what is is supposed to be on paper anyway, plus we have to show what we do for every child in order to challenge them. Any child already flagged up as higher attaining we have different targets for them too.

Obviously a class where all children were on same books and not allowed to move independently would be flagged immediately as the data would not show any differences re the numbers - which just wouldn't happen in your normal classroom.

learnandsay Thu 07-Feb-13 18:30:51

That's interesting, hula. Ofstead are always going on and on about the most able not being challenged. I don't know if they're right or not to go on and on about it. I've seen it in pretty much every report I've read.

I've seen schools who boast about their enthusiastic pushing of the three rs. I'm very keen on that. But I guess not all schools have similar policies.

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