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Higher reading bands - already a free reader in some schools?

(22 Posts)
Notcontent Sun 19-Oct-14 21:40:31

Just wondered why schools have such different approaches to reading bands.

My eight year old dd is on ORT 14 (which is dark blue at her school). She told me that there are two more levels to go before she can be a "free reader". Also, school apparently has a policy that you can't be a free reader until year 6... This seems a bit strange to me.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Also, should the level a child is on challenge the child?

starlight1234 Sun 19-Oct-14 22:30:13

No Idea about your school but my DS was a free reader in year 2. I do know he was held back a while because of his comprehension so there is more to levels than just been able to read them. Different schools go up to different levels.

teeththief Sun 19-Oct-14 22:34:52

Can anyone shed light on what exactly? I don't understand your OP

diamondage Sun 19-Oct-14 22:39:29

I think the most common system is for free reading to start after completing lime, so band / stage 11. There is no universal system however, and I have read a number of times here that once in KS2, or just due to the school changing it's policy, children who were previously free readers are put back onto the higher stage book bands.

There are two main colour systems, the one used by ORT / Bug Club (I think), which runs brown, grey, dark blue and finally red (which covers ORT levels 15 and 16). Then Collins Big Cat, which have even more colours starting at copper and ending with pearl. DDs school uses the latter system (although stopping at the colour before pearl). Either way the final colours of both reading systems equate to NC levels 4/5/6, depending on the specific book / or level (e.g. red band is quite wide).

It is quite tiresome, although this very much depends on how the school manages it. At DD's school there are non-scheme books mixed in with scheme books, which definitely helps. If your DD's school link progress to NC levels (or if they've stopped using NC levels now, to their new system), it is unlikely a child could finish the scheme before reaching year 6 unless their comprehension is well above their chronological age (rather than just their decoding skills).

As to challenge, well it depends what sort of challenge you mean. Ideally there should be some new vocabulary to look up in a dictionary / discuss, however the level of challenge with respect to comprehension and the higher level reading skills depends more on the sort of questions you ask your DD. There used to be teacher guides available on Amazon for ORT treetops and these gave a very clear idea of the level of understanding a child should have for levels 12+ - I'm not sure if they're still available, however it might be worth searching out a second hand copy if you're interested.

Hope that helps smile

Notcontent Sun 19-Oct-14 23:41:18

Thanks diamondage! It does make sense that if the final colours/levels are tied to NC levels, then they would be slow in moving children up...

ReallyTired Mon 20-Oct-14 10:38:49

I feel that moving children too quickly through the bands can cause long term damage. As children move up the reading bands they are reading to learn rather than learning to read. Just because a child can bark at print doesn't mean that they are ready to move up levels.

I think that banding real books into bands is a good idea. Being a "free reader" does not mean a child is capable or should be allowed to read anything in the school library. Would you really want your gifted five year old to come home with the Hunger Games?

Madcats Mon 20-Oct-14 11:43:48

I think our Infants school stopped at ORT 11. After that all the reading books are still colour banded, but they are a more eclectic mix. The emphasis definitely moves from reading words, to appropriate emphasis, expression and comprehension.

I think initially the teaching assistants would help a child "select" a book they would like to read from a colour band but I think they did encourage the children to explore various authors is they could (so it wasn't just every Rainbow Magic Fairy/Bestquest). Every so often a book might be a bit too tricky, in which case we either returned it with a note or we read it together. Other times we'd race through a book.

So DD is free-reading to the extent she is selecting a book that somebody has concluded ought to be within her ability range, but will still present her with some challenges (can she infer, does she understand the idioms).

If you think DD is finding her current reading level too easy, write a comment in her reading journal/homework diary.

Taffeta Mon 20-Oct-14 16:38:12

My DD was a free reader for a year when the school changed it's policy and she is now back on banded books. They have banded "real" books as well as ORT etc so there seems to be quite a variety.

The books are probably "easier" but she seems happy enough.

Free reading seems to be some imaginary badge of honour that parents seem to attach more value to than children IME.

CalamitouslyWrong Mon 20-Oct-14 16:42:47

Tbh, I'm never really sure why this matters. Being on a scheme book (of whatever colour) at school doesn't prevent a child from reading anything they like at home.

simpson Mon 20-Oct-14 17:29:54

DD was free reading from Easter in reception, having finished stage 11 but as somebody else said, it is all a load of bollocks IMO as there are plenty of books that are still not suitable for her to read now she is in yr2.

I am lucky in that she has had great teachers who have been happy for me to provide her school books as their selection is crap limited.

ChocolateWombat Mon 20-Oct-14 18:08:09

We had a DC in a child that had ORT until Level 16 and some children were still going with it in Year 6. Goodness, you'd be sick of it by then wouldn't you. There were some other books thrown in too, but not many.

So yes, in many schools free reader means got to L11 and in others in can be a good while later at L16.

Most schools which have free readers, still have some colour coded although children at the top of infants might be free readers, their choices are probably restricted so they are not reading the same as Year 6. School libraries often have a colour coding system which might or might not be related to the reading scheme, but will allow free readers of a similar level (in terms of understanding and appropriate context mostly) to read what is right for them.

CalamitouslyWrong Mon 20-Oct-14 19:24:27

Back i the dark ages when I was at primary school, there was no such thing as 'free readers'. We all did the reading schemes (the school did two, ginn and reading2000) all the way through to the end of primary 7 regardless how good you were at reading. They also introduced novels in primary 6 and 7. However, we also all had our school library books too which we read when we'd finished our work.

Ds2 gets time to read his school library book in class sometimes too ('we were allowed to read the words to ourselves, mummy'). Unfortunately he's chosen a book far beyond both his decoding and comprehension but he's still keen to try to read about magma chambers, igneous rocks and pyroclastic flows. He's 5 but ever so keen. He's decided he wants to be a 'gem stone studier' when he's older because the gem stones bit is his favourite bit of the earth science book he's chosen.

Notcontent Mon 20-Oct-14 21:27:55

Thanks for all the comments!

ReallyTired - that's a good point. Dd is happy for me to suggest things she may enjoy reading, and so has been reading lots of great but age appropriate stuff like the Borrowers, Anne of Green Gables, and some Jacqueline Wilson. I am of the firm view that up the age of about 12 or so there needs to be an appropriate parental filter on childrens' reading matter...

Madcats Fri 07-Nov-14 17:39:25

DD yr3 (stopped reading Biff & Chip in year 1) and moved away from scheme books, but has suddenly brought home a Treetops Classic book (Oxford Reading Tree level 16 from the turn of the century).

Compared to some of the books about fairies/monsters/rescue pets it is actually quite good.

SkullytonFlowers Fri 07-Nov-14 17:43:05

ds is in yr3 and almost a free reader, he's still officially the top banding, but is also allowed free pick of the other books in the school.

mrz Fri 07-Nov-14 17:53:30

Simple explanation- some schools don't teach reading so they call children free readers which impresses parents

LePetitMarseillais Fri 07-Nov-14 18:20:08

Mine seem to have done alright not being taught to read,still seem to be online for level 6s and all have a love of reading to boot.

mrz Fri 07-Nov-14 18:21:25

Just think what they might achieve with actual teaching ��

LePetitMarseillais Fri 07-Nov-14 18:22:23

They were taught in the classroom.

mrz Fri 07-Nov-14 18:31:29

Taught what though?

LePetitMarseillais Fri 07-Nov-14 18:40:50

To read as you know not everybody has to teach exactly the same way you do to get results.

Also your only teachers are qualified to hold the steering wheel as regards all children's entire reading journey stance I find a tad worrying and slightly arrogant.

All children are free readers ie free to read anything.They need autonomy at times and certainly after a certain level are well qualified to do so.I personally don't think they need a straight jacket for a huge number of years and a balanced approach with a level of autonomy in their free time alongside formal teaching in school after a certain level is not to be sneered at.

<awaits sneery,belittling retort>

mrz Fri 07-Nov-14 19:02:01

Did I suggest they did?

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