Advanced search

National Reading Average - is it very low?

(128 Posts)
Crouchendmumoftwo Mon 11-Nov-13 10:43:26

My son is in the top reading group in his year one class - he is on level 6 blue book band. I looked this up and it says its is a level for year 2. I'm not sure if this is the case. To be honest he is aged 6 and he isn't a free reader and his reading is quite slow and laboured. We think it should be a lot better for his age and he should be reading more confidently . We are thinking the national average must be very low, the school must have very low expectations or not be pushing the kids much. He is at a good state school but I guess the question I'm asking if the state school national average is very low as well as their expectations.

We get him to read with us just once a week and wonder if we should be doing more - pushing him harder. I know there is no rush. We have parents evening this week so I can find out more.

KuppiKahvia Wed 13-Nov-13 10:46:18

He may well be in the top group in his class, however in many Yr1 classes he would be middling, at my dd's school he wouldn't even be in the 2nd reading group, although this year's yr1's are particularly good readers. Reading ability varies wildly in this age.

I am truly shocked that you are only reading with your child once a week!!
I feel guilty that I only manage 5 days a week official school book reading with my children. Listening to your child read every day is the best support you can give, it isn't pushing it is supporting them.

Out of interest what does your child's school ask you to do regarding reading?

confusedabouted Wed 13-Nov-13 10:53:11

It doesnt matter if a child learns to read at 5 or ten though,i think its more important to enjoy reading rather than to push them to reach any kind of level. They will reach the level they need to naturally if you keep the enjoyment there.

KuppiKahvia Wed 13-Nov-13 10:53:22

Pastsellbydate - the school can obscure book bands to their hearts content - the children will still know where they are in relation to their peers and an involved parent will be able to judge their child's ability.

I don't get the competitive parent book level thing, I have a good reader and have been subtly questioned several times. I've found that saying that I think she is doing well but feigning ignorance of actual level works.

However if it makes them involved and supportive of their child's reading then it isn't all bad.

KuppiKahvia Wed 13-Nov-13 10:58:37

Confused - children need to be able to read to access the rest of the curriculum independently.
How can they understand a maths question or research a historical figure without being able to read? Those who can't read fluently are going to need a whole lot more support.

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 13-Nov-13 11:08:14

I definitely think you need to read with your Ds more. Blue band is level 4 I thought but even level six it's still quite low for year two. If he's top then I think that there's a problem with the teaching in general as that's a low top level to have and considering some kids leave reception free reading it's hard to believe that there's no one any higher of that makes sense.

Yes they all learn at their own pace but you can't have that attitude really in yr 2. The curriculum and homework get pretty heavy so they need to be able to access it.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 11:09:37

My DD is in the equivalent of Y5 in a French-English bilingual school in Paris. 75% of the DC in my DD's school are plurilingual and many of them have French as an additional language. Reading is taught initially in French.

In DD's school there are five parallel classes. In the equivalent of Y2 (the first year of primary in France and the official year in which DC are taught to read) there was one class reserved for DC who could already read. You would have honestly thought that admittance to that class was going to guarantee admittance to Oxbridge or Harvard, there was so much wrangling to get a place and so much smugness was generated among the parents if those DC who did.

Three years later it is apparent that there is no correlation whatsoever between those "early readers" and top performing pupils. So I think it is probably best to take a reasonably relaxed approach to learning to read and to support literacy at home in many and varied ways, but gently.

wonkylegs Wed 13-Nov-13 11:11:52

I would focus on getting your child to enjoy reading.
I think it's worth remembering that children can develop at very different rates and as long as they are progressing and enjoying it then that's half the battle at this age.
I only started school the term I was 5 and couldn't read until sometime after that but by the time I was 8, I was a prolific reader and at 12 I ran out of children's books in the library and moved on to adult books. I progressed because I loved reading.
This is what I want my child to do, so we read every night, not always loads every night but always something.
My sons school has a wide range of readers and many kids from backgrounds that mean they get little support from family, these are the kids that struggle with reading.
If you have a reluctant reader try incentives such as books on subjects they like (lego, star wars, angry birds - the literary contents not great but it'll get them reading), bribery - if they read a certain number of books then they get a prize, charts so they can see themselves how they are doing, online reading screens - reading on the computer sometimes is more attractive for this generation.

PastSellByDate Wed 13-Nov-13 13:22:45

Hi KuppiKuhvia:

Yes, I agree children will twig (although it can depend on age/ verbal ability) where they are in relation to other children. To be honest my girls weren't hugely aware until they started KS2.

I didn't have to worry too much about being competitive about reading ability because DD1 was the slowest in her class to 'get' reading - so everyone could say they were doing better than her. DD1 wasn't that bothered and we just quietly kept plugging away. DD2 just got rolled into the extra work with DD1 and they kind of learned together.

I think one of the underlying issues CrouchendMumoftwo raises is that it is incredibly difficult as a parent to understand where 'notionally' your child should be at a given age. This is the information that parents desperately search for and need. Certainly in England schools have been going for at least a century now in most communities - and frankly you'd think by now basics like when roughly should your child be a free reader? really ought to be generally understood.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 13:25:04

"Certainly in England schools have been going for at least a century now in most communities - and frankly you'd think by now basics like when roughly should your child be a free reader? really ought to be generally understood."

I wholeheartedly agree. Why is there still so much uncertainty, and lack of readily available information, surrounding the process of learning to read?

mrz Wed 13-Nov-13 17:54:42

confusedabouted if a child doesn't learn to read until they are 10 they aren't able to access any of the curriculum and they are going to be playing catch up so unfortunately it does matter

mrz Wed 13-Nov-13 17:56:27

"free reading" is a concept for schools to impress parents and for parents to boast about ...completely meaningless!

sheeplikessleep Wed 13-Nov-13 18:06:26

One on one reading is the key really. I see school as teaching the theory and the individual reding at home is where the child learns how to read.

Plus it's lovely hearing them read!

columngollum Wed 13-Nov-13 18:13:02

I see school as teaching the theory

occasionally the words Grandma and eggs come to mind.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 18:23:23

I don't think "free reading" is a meaningless concept.

mrz Wed 13-Nov-13 19:37:02

So what is your definition of "free reading" Bonsoir? Personally I don't believe there are many primary school children who are capable of reading any book they may encounter.

mrz Wed 13-Nov-13 19:39:38

in general it seems to mean "we have no books at your child's level so they can pick what they like until they move into the next class" or "we don't have many books so just pick one"

LittleMissGreen Wed 13-Nov-13 21:03:20

Surely free reading is a meaningless term for general comparison as schools use it in so many different ways.
I'm sure in some schools DS2 (yr2) would be a 'free reader' as he has moved past lime level books, but our school have reading books higher up the reading scheme that he studies with year 3/4.
In other schools he would be a 'free reader' as he is free to choose which books he wants to from the boxes of reading books. But our school let them do that from very early on - he was certainly choosing books at some point in reception.
In DS1s first school I never even heard the term free reader (he left in year 1) but from the end of reception he was taken to the neighbouring junior school for reading books (above lime level).

DS1 was still reading reading scheme books in school (along with other books - Treasure Island etc) in year 6, he came out with top marks in the Welsh reading level tests but technically wasn't a 'free reader'. Now in year 7 they are still reading set texts, so still not technically a 'free reader' but he is perfectly capable of reading most things put in front of him. But there are still words he comes across when we are reading together that he doesn't understand.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 21:06:36

My DD, who is just 9, can read a page of anything in English I put under her nose - as I do every night, as I make all my family read a page of something after dinner and then correct their pronunciation and expression and we have a talk about content (which often is a follow-on from a previous night). Her reading skills are good but not exceptional - she is, after all, at school in France and does most of her education in French, not English. I am not putting a page of Shakespeare under her nose - it's more likely to be an article from The Economist or a scientific journal, if not a page of modern English literature. I would call that free reading and that doesn't seem to me very controversial.

mrz Wed 13-Nov-13 21:13:20

Does she understand the page from the scientific journal or the Economist article, could she understand author's purpose if you did give her a Shakespeare sonnet to read?

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 21:35:35

She can definitely understand the scientific journal (I don't choose topics that are not of general interest and/or relevant to the DC) and The Economist but we do discuss the underlying ideas. I wouldn't expect her to analyse them on her own!

I don't give my family anything that is not contemporary language because the purpose of the exercise is to improve their general use of English. She loves poetry though - maybe I could try Shakespeare?

LittleMissGreen Wed 13-Nov-13 22:19:50

Impressed a 9 year old can understand scientific journals. I'm a scientist and some of the involved techy language from areas slightly outside my field goes over my head grin.

mrz Thu 14-Nov-13 07:00:32

"(I don't choose topics that are not of general interest and/or relevant to the DC)" so it isn't "free reading" it is selected by you the adult.

Bonsoir Thu 14-Nov-13 07:41:44

I don't understand the "free" qualification as meaning "freely chosen by the reader" and I would suggest that that is not its meaning. I think that is why you don't like the term!

PastSellByDate Thu 14-Nov-13 11:04:37


I do get your point - but have to query are you willfully missing mine?

By free reading I mean that a child is capable of reading and generally comprehending vocabulary for their age.

So has a reading age of a ten year old and can cope with books intended for a ten year old.

Of course I do not mean that a ten year old can read Shakespeare in the way a PhD candidate might at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

It seems to me bizarre in the extreme that an open goal of getting all Y6 pupils to read at their chronological age is entirely absent. I'm sure teachers have their reasons (as in that might involve a lot of work especially for children from less well supported homes) but...

and I'm not trying to go to war with you mrz but I believe you have claimed that you get all your Y2 pupils to read the Hobbit ....

if the end goal was that by age 8 your child should be able to read x, y, z books and clearly explained to parents year by year - don't you think we could then all be working together to achieve it.

It's the fact that some parents clearly understand where their child should be and others have no clue that is the problem here I feel.

I genuinely think most parents would help if their child was struggling - what annoys me is that I have had children struggling, been in no doubt there were problems, and the school has fobbed me off with 'they'll develop at their own speed' and 'it's more important they develop a life-long love of reading/ maths/ etc...' - they have even chosen not to inform me about interventions (even though parent volunteers were doing extra work with DD1 to help her & the parent volunteers told me about what they were doing).

I don't hold you responsible for this in any way mrz. And I think it's brilliant that all Y2 pupils with you can read the Hobbit by the end of Y2 - I'd be first in the queue to have my DDs join your class if I could have the time back again - but my reality is a school that claims great things and endlessly starts initiatives and then time after time fails to deliver. These are some of the highest paid teachers in this LEA - and I can assure you for us parents (and we all work) having to work and then come home and teach grates. Seriously grates.

PastSellByDate Thu 14-Nov-13 14:00:01

Hi all

found the famous mrz quote about how all her Y2 pupils are reading The Hobbit etc...

mrz Sat 16-Apr-11 12:20:28
Mine are reading Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, the Hobit and Shakespeare in Y2 - link here:

Maybe it's true maybe it isn't but I think it's this kind of thing that depresses parents and deeply confuses them. It is that old postcode lottery thing. In principle it shouldn't matter where you live - teachers are meant to be professional and you should be able as a parent to send them along to primary school with the confidence that your child will be taught well, as well as any other school.

Unfortunately, that's kind of where things go wrong...

There are brilliant schools & teachers out there - don't get me wrong. But unfortunately it isn't universal.

Just for the record DD1 is in Y6 and is now up to reading the Hobbit. (but again context is everything - did mrz just mean read the words out loud and not understand a lot of meaning? - again are we all just speaking at cross-purposes?) I don't doubt mrz is fabulous and great teacher - I just wish I could sincerely say the same for teachers at our school.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now