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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.

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 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 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's is not their 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.

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