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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.

pimplypoppet Mon 11-Nov-13 11:16:47

Not sure re his actual level. To me blue band is level 4 following on from pink red and yellow. In my DDs class at the end of yr 1 there were 2 free readers a hand ful on levels 9 upwards and most on blue, green or orange. I would say blue is about average for starting yr 1. I help out in my child's class, so this is where I'm getting this info from. I would however say, listening to your child read once a week is nowhere near enough at this level. It should be a min of 10 mins a night every night (in my opinion...I'm sure others will have different opinions!).

columngollum Mon 11-Nov-13 11:19:07

I think all schools manage their reading policies differently, some vary wildly from what seems the usual relatively slow plod through the ORT scheme. My personal instinct on this subject is (if your child is doing well, and reading Dahl/Potter/Blyton at home and some unspeakable rubbish at school, then by all means ask for school to chivvy the unspeakable rubbish to become progressively less unspeakable and show the teacher finished Dahl books.

But be prepared for her to smile, nod, not listen to a word that you've said and shove another piece of mindless drivel in your child's book bag.

If, on the other hand, your child is plodding along with his reading then by all means do listen to and read all the things that the teacher says, but also take your son to the library and speak to the early years coordinator on the library staff. Go to the large central library if your local library does not have such a person, appointments permitting. Also, reading doesn't have to be done from books. A child might thrive on reading Airfix model instructions or antique railway timetables and still struggle the the bilge that school brings.

PastSellByDate Mon 11-Nov-13 11:19:15

Hi Crouchendmumoftwo

Here's a link for book bands and NC Levels:

This is from a hertfordshire school - and they have ORT (Oxford Reading Tree) blue band as Level 4 and NC Level 1b, which isn't particularly high for Year 2 (see Mumsnet info on progress through NC Levels:

Or if you go to 'Bug Club' - and click blue Parent Help button and then click underlined Book Band Levels - you'll see that they have blue book band as intermediate Y1/ Y2 level.

So I think you need to see which scheme you're school is actually using.

I've found is if you go to the book trust website - you can find out more about the reading age (in terms of chronological age) of books - link here: - if you type in the name of the book under the icon pictures where there's a search box - you'll usually get the book and if you click it you'll see a picture of the cover underneath that they have reading age (chronological age) & reading interest (again chronological age). This is a real help - especially with books off reading schemes. Book trust also has lots of good reading suggestions - so useful to know about anyway.


PastSellByDate Mon 11-Nov-13 11:20:12

sorry that should be which scheme 'your school' is using...

Periwinkle007 Mon 11-Nov-13 11:21:46

I think it is just that - an average.

Some children will pick up reading very easily, others will struggle, some will be supported a lot at home, others won't, some will be learning English etc.

PERSONALLY I think it does seem quite low for children to be expected to be red or yellow at the end of reception/start of yr1 and I think there can be a sense of surprise if children are much higher than this. I think from people I know though that pretty much all the children we know are above this level at that age, perhaps with the extra focus on phonic schemes things are improving?

The recommendation is to read to them every day and to get them to read to you every day, not for long as it is quite tiring for them but they need to practice the skills. Imagine learning to drive a car and having a lesson every 3 months. in between each lesson you would forget what you had learned in the previous one. So yes I think if you read with him more it would help him but if he is on level 6 then he is doing fine.

HoratiaDrelincourt Mon 11-Nov-13 11:45:06

I looked up the book band levels when DS1 was on blue and the reading scheme itself estimated blue as mid-Y1.

I think the range of normal is so huge at that age to be nearly meaningless.

noramum Mon 11-Nov-13 12:35:59

DD reads to us every day, we started this in Reception as soon as she got books home. If she finishes her book in one setting she reads one of her library books or own books to us.

This is what the school stressed to us parents from day one.

In addition we read to her at bedtime each day, a book normally 2-3 level above her own.

If blue is average - I don't know. DD read turquoise in Spring term of Year 1 and from what I gathered she was in the top 1/3 of her class.

But I know each school is different. Her best friend is at a higher level but I feel DD reads a lot better, more fluent and with more expression. So "average" can mean anything or nothing I fear.

For me it would be important to see regular improvements and growing confidence. But this comes only with practice, practice and practice.

AMumInScotland Mon 11-Nov-13 12:59:28

I'd say the important things are - is he progressing, both in fluency and understanding?, and does he enjoy books? If those are both true, then he will continue to improve at whatever speed.

But, when DS was in school we were encouraged to get him to read to us every schoolnight, and I do think the regular practice helps. I also read to him at bedtime so he could experience stories above what he could read himself, which I think encourages them to see the point of getting better at reading.

It's not about 'pushing him', but even 5 minutes each day will do more good than an hour once a week.

mrz Mon 11-Nov-13 18:02:00

It isn't an average band for Y2... blue would be within the range of levels for children in KS1 but so would be green, orange, turquoise, purple, gold, white, lime and brown. I would be providing additional support for a child on blue band

mrz Mon 11-Nov-13 18:11:49

In theory blue book band in ORT should be the same as blue band in Big Cat which should be the same as blue band in Bug Club which should be the same as blue band in Ginn 360 which should be the same as blue band ... (you get the picture) because that is why the book banding system was devised (although it doesn't fit well with phonic books).

4Fags Mon 11-Nov-13 18:23:42

I would question the idea that getting your son to read is about 'pushing him'. I read to my child every night and also had him read to me up until the point he was a fluent/free readers. Even now I still check-in that he is properly pronouncing words. i know that the children in the higher ability reading group all have parents who do this, or similar. But it's not really 'pushing': it's just sharing stories. It's fun... and it's left him with a real love of stories and books.

I also feel that teaching the children to read is my responsibility, not the schools. It's like learning to play the piano or speak a foreign language: it's the daily practice, and not the lessons, that makes the real difference. This is borne out in the classroom: the children who are struggling are the ones who are not doing daily practice at home (or so says their teacher...).

ClayDavis Mon 11-Nov-13 18:25:27

Are we talking about the IoE bookbands though or something else? Blue would be level 4. Level 6 would be orange and roughly where I would expect children to be at the beginning of year 2. It could be the schools own colour scheme or they might be using 1 set of books so don't need book bands.

PastSellByDate Tue 12-Nov-13 10:21:58


Crouchendmumoftwo said her DS is Y1 - but you seemed to be talking about a Y2 child - so just wanted to raise that in case you wouldn't be intervening if a Y1 child was on blue (ORT).

In terms of book schemes - some schools around here (ours included) decided to move colours about a bit so that parents wouldn't be so tuned in to reading levels. Indeed our school refuses through KS1 & KS2 to discuss reading performance against NC Levels even though they do in great detail for writing & for maths.

I remain mystified why - but presume that this is a such a source of competition in infants (YR - Y2) with some parents and a source of worry (as in my case with a very slow starter in DD1) that they try to obscure the colour coding to allow time & space for children to develop at their own speed (which I can see is a good thing).


mrz Tue 12-Nov-13 17:19:29

Pastsellbydate she said "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." which is why I said that blue - Lime and beyond is within the range for children in KS1

mrz Tue 12-Nov-13 17:21:13

and yes I would intervene if a child was on blue ORT in Y2 (I'm giving additional support to all my Y1 children who are reading below orange level if that helps)

ClayDavis Tue 12-Nov-13 21:06:40

Orange at this stage in the year or towards the end of the year? That seems quite a high level to be needing additional support at this stage in year 1.

mrz Tue 12-Nov-13 21:11:41

That's why orange aren't receiving additional support just those below

ClayDavis Tue 12-Nov-13 21:26:45

Sorry, that was badly worded on my part. blush

I meant orange as being the cut off point for not needing help at this point in the year. I would have thought blue or green would be OK at the moment. I would definitely be keeping a close eye to make sure they were making enough progress to be very secure at orange by the end of the year but might not provide intervention at this point.

mrz Tue 12-Nov-13 21:36:12

We don't use book bands ClayDavis so aren't using them as a cut off point but as it works out all the children identified as requiring support (based on standardised scores) are reading below the equivalent of that level.

ClayDavis Tue 12-Nov-13 22:17:05

That makes sense. You're using Dandelion readers aren't you?

I have to admit that when I think of the lower level bookbands these days I tend to think of them in terms of phonic phases rather than how they were originally intended so blue/green roughly equates to phase 5 in Phonics Bug and blue level would be equivalent of phase 5 in CBC.

Either way, neither of those would be 'average' or anywhere near for a child in year 2.

littlemiss06 Tue 12-Nov-13 22:25:09

What sort of support do the children get Mrz? Just curious as my year 3 child has only just moved on to orange band this last week not even sure what level she should be on just know its quite low for a almost 8 year old, although on SA she receives no extra help in reading only monitoring literacy.

mrz Wed 13-Nov-13 07:20:43

Yes we use Dandelion as our main early reading scheme but slot in other phonic schemes.
Extra phonics and daily 1-1 reading we believe in picking up possible issues early before children fall behind.

confusedabouted Wed 13-Nov-13 08:09:55

Does it really matter how quick;y they learn to read as long as they can read (and enjoy it)by the time they are older?thats the only aim here really.

columngollum Wed 13-Nov-13 10:05:18

I'd struggle with a doesn't much matter when they learn approach. I think it matters lots. It's no good sitting your driving test when you're 85 if you want become a taxi driver. If nobody around the child has any use for reading then I suppose when the child learns doesn't matter so much. (Perhaps the people live on a Polynesian island somewhere and live entirely on fish.)

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