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Telling children their levels

Discussion in 'Primary' started by *Daisie*, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. *Daisie*

    *Daisie* New commenter


    I teach year 4. This year, I have decided to give children writing targets on bookmarks, rather than stuck in books, so that they can be used if they are doing writing in a different book or in a different subject. The children have decorated their own bookmarks and they are really enthusiastic about using them.
    Our new head commented that the targets we are giving children aren't levelled targets. I argued that they are, as I generally pick up on one or two things off the Ros Wilson criteria. However, I really don't believe in telling children in Year 3 and 4 that they are a particular level. Our head says that I may not agree with it but when ofsted come in they will ask children what their levels are.
    I want them to love writing and to know how they can make their writing better. I really think they're too young to have to worry about levels.
    I've been looking on the internet for some research on when and if it's right to be telling children their NC levels so that I have something to back up my argument, but I can't find anything.
    Does anyone know of anything that might be of use? Do you think it's right to tell children levels in LKS2?
    Thanks for your help
  2. Are you saying you want to do something right rather than what Ofsted want? You deserve a medal.
  3. Yes, this is very much how it works in my classroom too. The children have ownership of their learning and know what to do to progress. I think it's really unfair to keep this knowledge from them. It shouldn't be something we try and keep from them, but something that is fully open and shared.
    I don't believe a love of learning, and knowledge of levelling are mutually exclusive. My class are extremely enthusiastic and enjoy their learning. They do though, particularly 'pull out the stops' for a piece of work they know will be levelled.
  4. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    I give levels to year 5 and 6. They love to know and this encourages most of them to move onto the next stage. When I had year 3, I gave them their levels too. How would you know how to progress if you didn't know where you were starting from?
  5. What a load of TWADDLE! I think that you need to be LABELLED. You've been sucked in, well and truly. I'm sick and tired of labelling and levels and sub levels. YES, kids do need to know the next step, but to be told that you are making fantastic progress yet still below the National Average is SICK. We are killing education and what it should be about.
    It is all about the LOVE of maths, the LOVE of reading, the LOVE of writing, the pleasure and discovery of the Arts.
    Hope you've been labelled recently. SATISFACTORY?
  6. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Oh dear! Had a bad day?
    I don't mind being labelled. And by the way, always better than satisfactory, in part due to children knowing their levels!
  7. Not really, just 38 years of superb results and not a level in sight! It's called enthusing kids and the levels take care of themselves. Sheer hard work and motivating kids to achieve their potential. Listen to Michael Rosen and what he thinks about being levelled! It might do you the power of good.
  8. But again, you're assuming you can't have both! I love Michael Rosen, but he's not God!
    Children haven't been measured according to levelling for the 38 years of your teaching. It is unfair to 'keep secret' from them, the criteria against which they are being measured. It's like teaching children to pass a GCSE, but not telling them the criteria they need to meet for each grade.
    Whether we like levelling or not is irrelevant. That is how primary children's progress and attainment is measured at the moment.
  9. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Think back to your days in Uni. if you can remember. Would you find it easy to write an essay if you didn't know what you had to do to get a good mark.
    Life is about being judged, levelled and meeting targets and deadlines.
    Do you not have performance management Willow? Do you not get 'levelled' on your performance?
  10. Greta what a terrible life! Whose life is about that? Performance management? What on earth are you on? You have been conned and taken in by the language. Perhaps you do well at the moment- as you say like the latest brand of trainers levelling and targets are the brand of the moment.
    Some are not followers of fashion they follow their own truth. Nobody ever gave me success criteria but we still got results, no essays were explained in the way you descrinbed becasue holistic writing tasks were encouraged throughout primary ie write a story, as long as you like over days if you like. No targets, criteria, persuasive writing or adjective or green written comments to consider.
    As far as I am concerned 'levelling' means flattening, taking off the top, reducing all to a flat expanse of sameness and that is what it means in terms of teaching. You might play the game well Greta, hence you don't complain, but it is nonsense it really is.

  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I went to a school like that. There were 'suggested activities' written up on the board throughout junior school. The same ones stayed all week and no-one cared if you did any or all of them or not. It was ****, I spent most of the time, as did everyone else, twitting about and generally not achieving anything at all.
    'Teaching' children is so much better. Having an expectation that children come to school to work, learn and achieve. That work can be good and bad and that the very best is expected of children is better than just leaving them to it. 'Good Try' was a common marking comment. I knew I'd not tried hard, it was a nonsense. And anyway what was wrong with the work? Why wasn't it 'good'? Or even 'very good'? I didn't have a clue and so never really got any better. Some idea of SC would definitely have been a good thing.
  12. Minnie....it can't have been that'****' here you as a teacher writing to a 'good' [​IMG] standard on a forum where nobody asks you to write- and in your spare time -and about a subject that empowers and impassions you! What was the preparation if it wasn't the '****' school you describe. ...
    An expectation that children come to school to 'work', to 'learn and 'achieve'. Well the 'work'..... where does that arbitrary term suddenly appear in children's lives, the work/play dichotomy? At what age do we need children to'work'.... aren't these still victorian values?
    Can be 'good' or 'bad' and the 'very best is expected of children'? Why? Who decides it is good or bad - the government advisors, the SIPS, the moderators, the SMT, the HT, the advisors?
    Can't you just decide, you the teacher, the professional charged with that responsibility (the ability to respond). Can't you, searching to mediate between you and that child, decide and be left to get on with it, through this wonderful vocation that allows you to search for understanding and meaning alongside others. Can't you be left to do what you do?
    What is your basis for judging an effort as really good or bad- are you not saying to children 'it is your performance, the external about you that we value, your questions, your processes, your doubts, your fears, your struggles, the sense you are making of your life - don't really enter into this- from five years old you must , 'work, learn, achieve......'
    Where is the process, where is the activity that is self-motivated-self intiated- un'rewarded' effort? That generates a love of learning, an interest in perhaps obscure but very personalised realtionships with the world? Where is the integrtity of self valued, rather than the approabation of a system which, you must recognised Minnie, is increasingly stressful and flawed for both teachers and children.
    It teaches you 'if you do this- the world will be revealed to you later in all its golden glory' - fools gold maybe- yes you need to write in sentences at five because this will help you later? How? Why? - don't worry about that? What ?- well don't worry about that we'll tell you? Don't know how ? well we'll show you in progressive learning objectives and share those with you. Why or not interested right now- you want to play/ not 'work', follow up something that is far more interesting -sorry that is not allowed; there's no time left anyway.
    Sorry Minni it smacks too much of a government brochure -'work. learn, achieve' yes of course that is almost like breathing, teachers do that without really thinking, - you wouldn't be ateacher if not so of course you want that....but it is not the life blood of teaching. The life blood is interaction. Not stereotyped, preformatted, government approved interactions, but real engagement with who the kids are you are relating to as an adult in that role of teacher. 'Work', 'learn' achieve'. So we muddle along as teacher - too dangerous to really inspire us when we begin, then allow us to learn the trade, the nuts and bolts, and then let us get on with it and see what a diverse and rich fruit we reap. No too dangerous. Can't be controlled. Better that we serve like oxen at the plough, trudge along lowing quietly 'work, learn, achieve'. And tomorrow never comes, we just plough the same furrow, others decide where we go.
    NOw you can use three adjectives in a sentence- well done- you don't know why, or when you might need to- the truth is you probably never will as neither you nor most of the world are destined to relate to the world through descriptive writing. However giving you the tools to make sense of your life, words which can describe your expereinces, help you get a handle on them to understand them, that takes time, it is very personal - perhaps the best way is to give you unlimited time, a few days to write, help you work with this material of language for you own satisfaction... ahh but no that happened in the sixties and seventies and look wher that got us- terrible times weren't they.
    SUrely for many it isn't being given the secret of why 'good' or 'very good' but how to find satisfaction and meaning in what you do in life.
    'Work', yes like we do - constantly monitored, assesed, graded and levelled and stressed - 'learn' what we tell you-changes every year, we want to put more in your backsack walking straight looks suspicious to us ( we'll even insist you keep on filling it at home (we want that control too);
    'achieve' what we choose to give you as incentives - those stickers, those prizes, those green comments oh yes and to be 'very good' live up to the name we are baptising you '2c, 3d, 4a'..
    Sorry Minnie - I liked my primary school, I like the imagination it gave me, I liked being able to write for days, I love being a teacher, I've got so many rich expereinces and memories to draw on. I don't care about the slapped legs, the strap, the slipper, the lack of objectives - where else could I have hoped to be in life? There can only be so many doctors, lawyers, bankers. If they are all as happy as I am, then perhaps their education allowed them to feel a sense of wonder at being alive, grateful for the community wine we drink from this great big cup of learning. Cheers Minnie, but 'work, learn, achive' just don't do it for me.

  13. Maybe they don't for you, but who are you to assume that's the same for everyone else?
    The children I teach have 'bought into' the system they exist within. They are savvy enough to know that unless they meet the criteria they are set, they won't achieve within the confines of that system. They, by and large, want to achieve within those parameters; their parents want them to achieve within those parameters.
    Does any of that mean they don't love learning? I would say all of them love learning something. They may not all love to write, but they might love science instead, they might not all love to read, but the may love football instead.
    I have many, many children who develop their writing within the parameters described, but also adore writing for its own sake. They recognise the purpose of writing and choose to do it - to express; to argue; for pleasure. There is nothing inherent in teaching children about writing criteria that prevents any of that.
  14. Nobody millie bear, you are right. Whos am I to assume? But can't a nobody have an opinion? Without being an approved advisor SIP or whatever? Don't know about you but I get a little bit lonely amongst of all the opinions that are sent down from above to tell me how to do my job. Of course it might only be my point of view but why not say it.
    At least I may not be alone- as I often feel when I read about the learning-objectives-on-the-board, success-criteria, performance-management, mark-in-a-set-colour, observation, your-turn-for-our-learning-walk, moderation and levelling orthodoxies. They isolate a lot of people.
    It is as if we can't do a good job any other way, can't define what we do in terms which might be the original fruits of our individual experience. I understand what you are saying, we have all bought into the system, or have been born into that system. However does that mean we accept as it is or can't participate in questioning and renewing it on a dialy basis without havgin to have offical approval to think laterally a bit. Parents and children look to us for guidance and wisdom, we are uniquely privileged to be in that postion. I just think we have to have wider view than only the system we are in.
    I don't want to assume that it isn't so for others. What I don't want is it to be assumed that I think that that is all there is, that we all think the same, that we are all stamped in the same mold. So many teachers post on here about their difficulties in the current OFSTED driven regime that I don't want to be complacent and say 'I'm okay' 'I love what I do'
    I want to understand whay i think and feel, why so much of what I hear seems alien to me. I wouldn't assess, evaluate and quantify children in the way that is being done to so many teachers. I am trying to get at the underlying causes of this. If I can understand it maybe I will be aware of its assumptions in my own daily work. Why I have 'bought' into a system which seems to make many conscientious, striving, caring and inspirational adults feel, worthless, useless and 'unsatisfactory'.
    I may be going about it the wrong way and may be in danger of being so far a devil's advocate that I fall into the hellfire and brinstone of ranting without purpose. To be skilled is the very essence of surviving and making a living society which betters our own, the elder and the younger generations.
    Yet the ones who are importing all this stuff into school, the performance management stuff, the league tables and the level-progress, are the generation of politicians and administrators who have dropped us in trouble anyway. Who went to Eton, who sent our pensions funds to Iceland, who pay million pound bonuses to bankers but cut the lollipop ladya and the nursery nurse.
    They are not sufficiently able to inspire us with vision. Instead they seek to keep us to failed model that too them to the top of the slippery pole. Not that there is any room there for those who fall for the con and try too struggle upwards. I just think we need to trust teachers more and share inpsirational ideas for the future, for what our job is really about. I just don't see it in academies, uniform, bibles, teacher standards, higher and higher inspection hoops that by jumping distract people from reflecting on the ground we are standing on.

  15. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Home and a decent infant school before we moved house! Juniors was a total waste of time. And I don't write to a good standard. I cannot use more advanced punctuation accurately, have to recheck spellings and often retype as grammar is terrible. The reason I know the grammar and spelling are wrong is because I read so many, many books as a child. Nothing to do with school.

    Your posts are rather too much about letting children do whatever they wish whenever they wish and those who learn do so and those who don't, oh well never mind they had fun anyway and enjoyed their time.

    Whereas I hated my junior school, that sounds rather like yours and very much wish it had been much more like those of today. I would have loved to have a teacher actually teach me something. SHOW me what I needed to do. Draw out my vague interests into something greater. Not let me spend hours and hours bored out of my brain supposedly writing a story for several days. Only to then give me no clue as to whether it was actually any good or not or how I could make it better.

    However it matters not a lot. I love being a teacher in my classroom today and the children enjoy being there. They learn and achieve and enjoy the satisfaction they get from it. Works for them and for me.

    They don't know their levels this year, but did last year and the one before when I had year 5 and 6. Year 2 might get to know theirs soon...depends how I feel and what I think will work for them.
  16. emilystrange

    emilystrange Star commenter

    @ yohanalicante - i'm really sorry, but i find your posts and your style of writing really hard to follow. if they were more concise and less rambling, i might read more than the first couple of lines. i have tried...
  17. I'd BLOSSOM in yohanalicante's school. I'd DIE in the minniemix style of teaching. I know where I go wrong each day, I don't need to be judged. Ah well, back to planning. Now then, how to interest and move the kid at 1b and motivate the one at 3b... Hmm. Any ideas for a maths lesson?
  18. emilystrange

    emilystrange Star commenter

    we can't say that for every child though. we can only really say it with any accuracy for ourselves, with the benefit of hindsight and an education. some kids in a class will thrive on it, some won't, but they all need to have a distinct teaching input.
  19. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Why can lessons where children know what to do to improve not be exciting? My class would say the lessons are fun (and regularly do so!). They play in class more than some staff think they ought. They have lots of time to follow their own lines of interest and show their ideas. But the intrinsic joy and satisfaction of knowing one has done better than previously is not something I'd want to deny my class.

    And this isn't my 'style' of teaching at all. It is what a great many teachers do on a great many days in a great many schools. Read the posts here. Lots of people tell children their levels and teach them how to improve. My HT would rather I did it more often than I do. Read lots of my other posts, especially those about teaching and the fun and joy to be had there...
  20. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    You are so much more sensible and level headed than me...

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