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Are some schools a bit 'tighter' with NC levels than others?

(27 Posts)
standwellclearvehiclereversing Wed 16-Jul-14 12:57:45

This is a genuine question - not an invitation to compare NC levels or anything.

DD1 got her end of school report. She is strong at reading (not gloating - I know her maths and writing need help, but reading is her strong point).

The section of her report on reading talks about how well she reads, decodes text, brilliant comprehension etc. There are no areas mentioned that she needs to work on (unlike where they've pointed out her weaknesses in maths and writing).

She's on gold book band and has been given a 1a for reading. I know the book band isn't everything, but I can't see anything in the write up that would have brought her score to that level?

Conversely - she's been told she needs to consistently use capital letters and full stops in her writing, needs to concentrate on writing on the lines, needs to make her writing smaller but has also been given a 1a for writing.

I just don't get the big disparity between what I see as the ability in reading and writing and the scores given?

p.s if at all relevant - DD's school is a larger than average primary that just got a requires improvement ofsted grade (was previously good with outstanding feartures)

standwellclearvehiclereversing Wed 16-Jul-14 13:16:16

Sorry, I don't think this should have gone in chat reporting it to ask MN to move it to primary education.

standwellclearvehiclereversing Wed 16-Jul-14 18:42:57


Peacocklady Wed 16-Jul-14 19:11:52

Yes. Sometimes schools keep scores low to be able to show progress over the coming year.
Levels are changing anyway, I would go more on what they say she can and can't do.

standwellclearvehiclereversing Wed 16-Jul-14 22:11:48

Thanks peacocklady

ZanyMobster Thu 17-Jul-14 13:34:19

This does sound strange, I would just ask the teacher. There is no reason for the school to keep the scores low if they are doing their job properly.

My concern would be that they will not challenge her with her reading going forward. I would have said that it was her comprehension as often good readers can read words better than they understand but as her report said excellent comprehension this seems odd.

My DSs levels were deflated at infant school and he then looked like he made a whole NC level progress in the first term of Y3, absolutely ridiculous but I am guessing in the infant school he had reached the level they had required him to be so didn't bother any further.

Definitely ask them about it.

tiggytape Thu 17-Jul-14 14:02:18

Knowing that schools in some Las get together to discuss moderation and levelling, there is certainly a degree of interpretation involved. For example how often does a child have to be able to do something before you would say they can do it consistently? 8 times out of 10, 9 times out of 10 or every single time? This isn’t going to make masses of difference overall but sub levels especially are not as hard and fast as many people imagine.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 17-Jul-14 14:05:50

interesting someone else finding this too.

DD1 was reading chapter books by end of reception. got exceeding in EYFS for reading.

at end of Yr1 she has been given a 2b for reading. Obviously very good but she has read all the Worst Witch books, lots of harder chapter books now, understands inference, can use a dictionary to find things, understands grammar, predict storylines, comprehension is good, reads with expression etc so I had expected her to get higher (she finished band 11 in R). In her report it says she is beginning to read fluently and use expression but she has done for over a year, in fact her reception report states that and so does the whole of her reading diary this year. (the other excellent readers all have that in their report too so I don't actually think it is true)

I assume they are reporting it low to ensure they can show progress in yr2. Does it bother me? yes it does because it doesn't reflect her actual ability and achievement. Does it really matter? no and in some ways it will take some pressure off her. She should be able to get a level 3 at the end of yr2 because really she probably ought to be thereabouts already.

Schools shouldn't do it but I think they do (looking at the info they gave me she started year 1 as a 1c in reading which is a bit on the low side for chapter books with good comprehension IMO).

I kind of want to ask why she has a 2b but that seems ridiculous as it is a good level and she likes reading but I am a bit curious what it is they think she can't do and why.

Billybo Thu 17-Jul-14 14:18:29

I'd say the are trying to fudge their figures i.e. trying to keep the score lower than it should be. Very sad.

DC1 also is a good reader, y1. When she was on lime at the beginning of the year she was levelled as 1a. Now she is on ruby levelled at 2b. They have told me they are keeping her there so that they don't run out of books for her as they don't want her to become a free reader. hmm.

They seem to have pretty much given up in teaching her on the reading front. She is lucky if she reads to a parent helper once per half term, never to teacher or TA. All the other children have use of bug club etc but they don't subscribe to levels high enough for her and won't let her have access to the programme that children at her level higher up the school use. After much insistence, they do send her home with some reading comprehension material, that is more her level, so that I do this with her at home. I get the feeling that guided reading lessons at school are not of an appropriate level either.

Teacher at the beginning of the year was candid enough to tell me not to worry if her levels don't tally with her ability because they mark them down to show progress! Not too sure whether I should have been pleased with her honesty, or shocked that the school seem to have no interest, or faith in their ability, in trying to teach my child to a higher level!

ZanyMobster Thu 17-Jul-14 14:24:51

DS1 only progressed 1 sub level from Feb of Y1 to end of Y2 as the school said it was the limitations of KS1 and they didn't have a group to put him in so nothing really surprises me.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 17-Jul-14 14:26:37

I actually feel greatly reassured that others have the same thing. I know children who are at other schools being given NC levels the same as DD1 who definitely aren't close in terms of what they can read, what they choose to read and how they would understand and analyse it.

I did ask at parents evening mid year when they would do some comprehension work and talk about inference etc and the answer was 'as they go up the school'. ie not in yr1. fine if they aren't ready for it but children reading at that level who ARE ready for it should be given the opportunity. They never even ask her anything about it so how could she demonstrate it. I don't think they have a clue what she can do.

Having said that we have some more important things with her at the moment with an spld or two and confidence so if Yr2 can be relaxed and fun for her without a huge amount of teaching then I will try and ignore that and push for it more after SATs perhaps but I will be raising it at parents evenings but trying not to make too much fuss.

Toomanyhouseguests Thu 17-Jul-14 14:32:08

Yes, of course.

Toomanyhouseguests Thu 17-Jul-14 14:42:00

Every school is a little different.

At my dc's school the general consensus is that the teaching is good for the middle. And parents of children who are "where they are supposed to be" are generally happy and positive.

Children who are struggling or have special needs get a lot of resources, but if you chat with their parents, it seems like a lot of busy-ness and faffing around, but not the bottom-line progress the parents are hoping for or expecting.

The most able children seem to coast along. Almost never challenged and held in check so the variance within the classroom doesn't get too unwieldily.

I am sure this is not the aspiration of the school nor the vision, but it is what is actually delivered.

ZanyMobster Thu 17-Jul-14 14:44:55

This was exactly the same at my sons infant school, he is at an independent junior school now and the difference is huge but then there are small classrooms, lots of specialist teachers and lots of assistants. It is not a particularly academic school but they have the resources to differentiate properly. They do have children with SEN but they are a specialist in that too so again they have the additional resources which are paid for by parents.

I would have been happy for my DCs to stay at state schools if I felt it would suit them but it wasn't working out for us.

redskybynight Thu 17-Jul-14 15:16:37

There may be some criterion of Level 1 that she just hasn't fulfilled yet.

So in reality she is working at Level 2 standard in most aspects of her reading, but the teacher can't give her a higher level due to one weakness.

If this is the case, you'll see her "jump"suddenly in terms of levels once she "gets" the thing she is struggling with.

standwellclearvehiclereversing Thu 17-Jul-14 16:20:38

Thanks all - I'm not claiming DD is a genius at reading or anything, it's just the disparity between her writing and her reading.

There are literally no areas for development in the write up for her reading - at home she reads and understands text like the Twits (though I wouldn't say she completely comprehends the more complicated RD books).

I was reading the Gruffalo to her sister the other day and we got to the part that says "astounding, said the Gruffalo" and she asked what astounding means. I asked her what she thought it means and she replied "that he wasn't expecting that?"

By contrast, when it comes to writing although her content and vocabulary is good she doesn't consistently use full stops and capitals, struggles to stay on the lines, writes too big, is in a specialist extra help group for handwriting in fact. And yet they've scored her a 1a for that as well? I just don't see the two as comparable..

standwellclearvehiclereversing Thu 17-Jul-14 16:24:55

Actually, reading the report again - there is one area for development. She needs to build on her ability to select sentences, phrases and relevant information from the text to support her view - when I google that phrase it comes up as expected of Level 5??

I am beyond confused now.

standwellclearvehiclereversing Thu 17-Jul-14 16:25:29

She is still 5, btw, if that is at all relevant, turns 6 next month.

simpson Thu 17-Jul-14 16:28:27

DD is at the end of yr1 & in a similar position in that her reading is VERY strong, however the teacher said that her writing needs to catch up.

When levelled/assessed verbally DD is 2 sub levels higher than the level put in her school report.

standwellclearvehiclereversing Thu 17-Jul-14 16:29:32

I'm actually just going to put the write up down here:

"X has worked hard this year with her reading and reads regularly at home. Her reading shows good understanding, fluency and expression which is generally accurate.

She can express opinions about major events of ideas in stories, poems and non-fiction.

X has worked hard this year to use more than one strategy when reading unfamiliar words and in establishing their meaning; She is beginning to answer more complex questions and now needs to select sentences, phrases and relevant information directly from the text to support her answers.

She enjoys talking about the characters in a story, saying what she likes and dislikes about them. She has met the Year 1 phonics standard"

standwellclearvehiclereversing Thu 17-Jul-14 16:36:38

That's interesting simpson, can I ask how/who by was she verbally assessed/levels?

simpson Thu 17-Jul-14 16:59:09

She is/was verbally assessed by deputy head/KS1 Head (same person) once a term (as is each kid in the school although most kids are assessed by the class teacher.)

They also do written assessments (comprehension exercises) which if their writing isn't as strong as their reading may lower the score.

Also quite frankly DD is 6 & lost interest after most of her reading paper (L3 - sat in May).

standwellclearvehiclereversing Thu 17-Jul-14 18:40:25

THat's interesting Simpson, thanks.

Peacocklady Thu 17-Jul-14 19:42:17

It sounds like she's doing very well.

Can I just add that I think capital letters and full stops should come further down the line in assessment of writing development. We don't often speak in clear sentences so writing composition and grasping what a sentence is is quite a skill.

It's easy to say names have capitals but not always easy to grasp what constitutes a name. We'd write 'Saturday', for example, or 'July', but then we'd write 'summer' with a lower case initial letter.

I would also like to say that teachers would happily give a genuine level of their pupils' attainment but because ofsted don't seem to understand that children, being individuals, make different levels of progress at different times and will hold schools accountable if a specified amount of progress is not attained at data collection time, statistics are given at the most opportune moments!

redskybynight Thu 17-Jul-14 20:30:59

Ah OK, IIRC being able to find the words in a text to answer the question is a Level 2 skill - so that sounds like the element that is stopping her level being higher.

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