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Why does everyone want writing levels?

(25 Posts)
goingmadinthecountry Sat 22-Feb-14 21:44:33

Just wondering and being nosey. Why the sudden obsession on here? I teach yet am not remotely bothered by dd3's levels. Are other parents hugely more interested than I am?

If you've asked for levels on here is it because you are unhappy with what school is saying, or are you just interested generally?


likeneverbefore Sat 22-Feb-14 21:46:25

I don't even know what writing levels are. Should I? (I have a yr 1 DD).

Bloodywornoutnow Sat 22-Feb-14 21:52:09

I have asked as I have been given 2 vastly different opinions and levels regarding dd's writing (from different schools) and wanted an independent view from a teacher or someone in the know, not that anyone has levelled it for me unfortunately.

mrz Sat 22-Feb-14 21:55:35

Writing levels are very subjective and without a range of the child's independent work in front of you it's not possible to give an accurate idea

spudmasher Sat 22-Feb-14 21:56:44

It's going to be interesting next year when levels disappear for all but years 2 and 6. Schools will be free to choose how writing is assessed. And everything else. I think some schools will hold on to the levelling system for a while but many will use something else. Hopefully it will make more sense to parents. Schools have not been given time or money to formulate these systems though.....

Bunnyjo Sat 22-Feb-14 21:58:36

I think that some people want reassurance that their DC are doing well.

However, as many teachers will say (and I am not a teacher), it is completely impossible to level one piece of work. The teacher will assess the children throughout the year and use a variety of work and assessments to make a measured and appropriate judgment on the NC level of the child.

likeneverbefore, I don't actually think that knowing your DC's NC level is of that much use, to be honest. Knowing your DC is a 1a, 2b or even 3a means nothing if their strengths and weaknesses are not put into context with the corresponding NC levels. I was given DD's NC levels at the end of Year 1, but it was only when speaking to the teacher at her parents' evening did I find out where her strengths and weaknesses lie.

Judyandherdreamofhorses Sat 22-Feb-14 22:00:21

Totally bizarre and either requested as a weapon for teacher bashing or an accessory for school gate competition, surely?

Do we constantly hold any other workers to account in this way? Out of a child or teacher's day/ week/ term/ whatever, this one tiny element of what they do. Completely unnecessary to nit-pick to this extent.

columngollum Sat 22-Feb-14 22:12:20

Children don't come with progress in English, Maths & Science gages embedded in some kind of prepubescent dashboard. If mum (or dad) wants to know where he or she or Little Jenny is at she has to ask.

(Luckily digital children of the future will be designed with progress displays.)

DeWe Sat 22-Feb-14 22:14:51

weapon for teacher bashing surely no one really believes that they can go into school and say "hey teacher, I put one of dc's writings on a message board and the people on there said it was a whole level over your marking" and really think the teacher will say "oh, of course those strangers know much better than me, I'll move her to the G&T group." Do they?

columngollum Sat 22-Feb-14 22:28:26

I put one of DC's writings on a noticeboard and people said, heh? What's a level?

I said, don't worry about it.

simpson Sat 22-Feb-14 22:54:27

Some of what DD writes (mainly at school tbh) is IMO really very good (got to see her literacy book recently ) and some of what she writes isn't so good.

If she was levelled on a single piece of writing then goodness knows what that would be grin

writingblues Sat 22-Feb-14 23:09:26

Putting to one side that a smattering of requests is neither everyone, nor an obsession, I think the main reason people make the request is reassurance.

Often I think writing isn't something much practised at home, therefore when a DC suddenly decides to put pen or pencil to paper and writes more than the parent has ever seen before then they might feel both relief & curiosity. Many schools or particular teachers are reluctant to share levels or parents feel they don't want to bother the teacher.

Surely that's one of the benefits of MN? And whilst people often preface their request by acknowledging the limitations of this type of levelling it at least provides a level for their DCs best piece of writing done so far.

Another reason is where a parent wants confirmation that a school is levelling too high (for their sake of their stats). To be honest I've yet to read a levelling request that seems unreasonable and I think parents are very appreciative of the feedback given by the little group of teachers that do so.

My question would be, why do some people get slightly prickly about level requests for writing (not aimed at you OP). However I'm not so curious as to open a thread about it grin

writingblues Sat 22-Feb-14 23:20:19

And the current level this writing thread has just demonstrated my point i.e. previous school over levelling and parent wants confirmation of the accuracy of the new level provided by new school. There is nothing like a drop of a whole level to make a parent want some second opinions.

mrz Sun 23-Feb-14 06:38:58

In the same class, with the same teacher marking, there can be a genuine whole level (or more) difference between one piece of writing and the next, which is why levelling a single piece is not an accurate way to work.

Retropear Sun 23-Feb-14 08:26:50

Because often schools give out very little real information(not easy in a 5 minute parents evening)and by the end of the year it's too late. With something as important as writing keeping an eye on it can be hugely beneficial.

I speak as an ex teacher with two out if three who hugely under performed in writing until I stepped in and asked questions.Getting targets,levels and clarification re spelling/punctuation gaps is very helpful particularly in a school where levels aren't that great.I made the mistake with one of not asking enough last year,the gap between reading and writing levels was huge.Far bigger than you would expect (yes I'm aware a small gap is normal) and finding out at the end of the year was a bit pointless really.

If my kids were in an Outstanding school with amazing writing levels I would perhaps relax a bit but seeing how they're not(their levels are in the bottom quintile)and how important writing is across all areas of the curriculum I ask.Thankfully the member of staff I now ask is fab,only too happy to help and gives a very thorough explanation.Pointing out gaps between one level and the next,areas to focus on etc.I'm sure things are on the up and parental information is part of this as far as I'm concerned.We as parents have such a big impact on reading,we could with writing too if we had more info.

Whatever the school at the end of the day they are our children and if you don't ask in many cases you don't get.Wanting and getting information in many areas of your child's education can be hugely beneficial for the child.Don't get this strange MN anti attitude towards parents wanting info and the best for their own child.

And yes we will be screwed when levels go.

Retropear Sun 23-Feb-14 08:30:04

That said I would never bother with asking on here.Go straight to the horses's mouth.Don't get this fear of asking teachers things.They are there to advise and inform parents as well as to teach your child.

LittleMissGreen Sun 23-Feb-14 14:14:12

I wouldn't ever post about it, but I would be genuinely interested to see how some of the work the DSs do would compare levels wise to English levels. We are always told that our Welsh foundation phase outcome 6 is the same as level 3a in England and I'm genuinely intrigued as to whether the boys would really perform as well in England as they appear to be in Wales. As Wales always seems to do worse in GCSEs, pisa tests etc. so not convinced our levels are really the same.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 23-Feb-14 14:20:12

My problem is that I believe that single, exceptional pieces of writing, produced in particular circumstances (eg in the library) are not an accurate representation and so 'should' not be levelled. Unfortunately DS2's teachers don't agree.

He did 2 pieces of writing in year 2 - KS1 short writing and long writing tests and both were levelled for official KS1 stats. So he was scored at 2c for writing despite only working for 5 mins on a good day in the classroom. Abandonment of levelled pieces of writing (rather than levels being a commonly understood language) in this instance is good because the present system is open to corruption.

mrz Sun 23-Feb-14 14:24:11

The KS1 writing test pieces should not be used as the reported level the tests are there to support on going assessment

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 23-Feb-14 14:32:53

I agree that they should not be used but they can be. According to the head, children should be able to demonstrate their 'best' - surely as a parent I am in agreement?

mrz Sun 23-Feb-14 14:38:01

The head needs to read the ARA (which is the legal requirements)

"The statutory national curriculum tasks and tests must be administered to all eligible children who are working at level 1 or above in reading, writing and mathematics to help inform the final teacher assessment judgement reported for each child at the end of key stage 1. The tasks and tests are introduced in detail in section 6.
If teacher assessment and the task and test results differ, the teacher assessment results should be reported, provided the judgement is based on an appropriate range of evidence from work completed in class.

Schools are not obliged to report task or test results separately. However, parents must be allowed access to their child’s results on request."

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 23-Feb-14 14:49:43

I requested DS2's school files which document that at the end of year 1 he was working at around P4-6 but the report for the end of the year records level 1b.

Where does a parent go to complain?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 23-Feb-14 15:01:20

In the other direction, Ds2 passed the level 3 maths paper (despite being predicted 2b) but was scored at 2a - this is neither a reflection of his ability or how he works in class.

mrz Sun 23-Feb-14 15:33:00


cloutiedumpling Sun 23-Feb-14 15:46:58

We don't have levels in Scotland and sometimes I wish we did. In my experience, teachers are not able to provide much information to parents within a ten minute slot at parents night. If there are any areas where my DCs are weak then I would like to know about it asap so I could try to do something to remedy it. Levels would make it easier to keep tabs on how your DCs were doing compared to national averages.

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