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What is the point of the home/school reading record?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by SayItLikeItIs, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    Dear Primary Teachers

    When I worked as a class teacher I religiously made a comment in the home/school reading record book each time I heard a child read. The reading record book was sent home along with the book for the parent to comment also. Its purpose was to have a dialogue between parent and school as to their child's reading progress. It drove me bonkers that certain parents never wrote a comment in the book, although in hind sight there may have been reasons why.

    Now that I am a parent, it drives me bonkers that the school write the name of the book in the reading record, send it home with the child's reading book, and never write a comment themselves and, crucially, never respond to our specific requests for more challenging reads. Not even a 'Yes', or 'No, because ...'

    For extra information, our child's school does RWI and gets two books from the scheme to read anyway, on which we are not expected to comment. The reading record is in relation to a third book selected from old reading schemes that the school still has. The group has eight children and it is run by a TA. I get that staff are busy, but if they are too busy to do more than write the name of the book in the reading record, then I really don't know what this is all about.

    It feels like I go into school quite a lot to question things that they do (teacher turned parent syndrome), so I don't automatically want to go in about this. I also want to maintain good relationships with the TA, who we often see on 'drop off' duty in the mornings. Can anyone enlighten me as to what, as a parent, the best thing is to do here?

    Thanks for looking, as I know you are all busy!
  2. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    What exactly are you expecting them to comment on with regards the third book? (that's a genuine question, not argument dressed up as a question) You see, I would be surprised if the adult is actually listening to them read from this third book so I am not sure what they would write. Or do you know that the child definitely reads this third book to their RWI adult?

    The challenging-ness or otherwise of this third book is a different issue in my mind. One thought about the lack of response to providing more challenging books (although one would think that the courteous thing to do in that case would be to write back and explain) is that they have been told they are not allowed to give anything that isn't from the pre-approved selection which has been matched to wherever they are in the RWI scheme. Ofsted has a real bee in its bonnet at the moment about children having reading books which they can't decode fully and I know several schools which consequently have gone through their reading schemes and are being really careful as a result about what books the children are given to take home (no books with snails in them for the reception class for example - or at least not until later in the year). Other schools operate more of a library system and the children can choose an additional book to take home with the intention - for the younger ones - being that this would be shared with/by the adult caregiver rather than the child being able to read it themselves, but these tend to be 'normal' 'real' books and you mentioned the third book is from previous reading schemes so I guess this wouldn't apply.

    Further question, is the TA who does your child's group, the class TA for your child's class, somebody who normally provides 1:1 or a TA from a different year group/class?

    From what I have seen of RWI sessions, especially in the early stages they are very heavy in terms of adult leading/participation so the adult is unlikely to have much time to spend looking at reading records during the RWI sessions themselves. So then it becomes when are they supposed to fill them in?
    SayItLikeItIs and Pomza like this.
  3. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    Thanks Oracle - this is a really helpful reply.

    My big bugbear about RWI is that they are supposed to read books with 100% accuracy, rather than the more generally accepted 90% accuracy. Hence, to have to read a third book, which is not of my child's choosing (and which they can already read with 100% accuracy) is tedious. There may be a difference of ideology, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that 90% accuracy is right rather than 100%, although RWI begs to differ.

    You are right - the TA does not read this third book with my child and I'm sure time, so it would make sense that she is not commenting, although it's fair to say I would expect her to respond to my question about the level of challenge. She is not the class TA, but a TA from a different year group. Everyone except my child in the group is in the year group that she teaches, so it is possible a letter has gone out to the rest of the group about the reading record, whereas my child was accidentally overlooked.

    Again, I really appreciate your considered response.
  4. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    You are most welcome. I don't have any particular expertise, especially with RWI but I currently work as a supply teacher including long and medium term placement so I get to see how lots of schools do things.

    Is your child perchance with a group where the other children are from a higher year group e.g. year 1 with year 2 children?

    I can see that RWI does work, especially for certain children but I don't think it always serves all children that well. For example, I have nothing but anecdotal experiences but I would imagine that children who have been read to a lot from normal books and who were already beginning to make correspondences between the appearance of words and their meaning and their sound might struggle with some of the more prescriptive elements of RWI systems.
    SayItLikeItIs likes this.
  5. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    I know one parent who complained that all this fuss with reading records/phonics schemes etc is really putting her daughter off reading-she told the class teacher-and he just said let her read and ignore all this stuff then!
  6. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    I'm completely on board with all your comments here, and have always known that my child didn't need to have RWI to be a brilliant reader (biased parent that I am!). As a dyslexia tutor with a treasure trove of resources, my child was curious about them from the off and had got to the end of the Phonic Books first set whilst in the same school's Nursery. RWI was taken on by the school when my child went into Reception.

    It's been hard to figure out who to contact about this situation - whether it be the RWI co-ordinator, who is in a different building and somewhat remote from what is going on, the class teacher, who probably has no idea what it is that this RWI group is getting up to, or the TA herself. I have put a very prominent note into the reading record asking for clarification. And when we see her at drop off I'll just briefly mention the note in a friendly way.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I've always thought the point of reading records was to keep SLT happy.
    As soon as I've worked out which parents aren't fussed about them, I've stopped writing in them at all. No one has complained and the children still read as often and as well as they would have done otherwise.
    Parents who use the reading record as a full on home school diary are soon disabused of that notion. If they want a discussion, they can speak to me.
    More conscientious teachers use the reading records as a list of books that have been read.
    OTT teachers have beautifully written comments that look utterly lovely, but actually serve little purpose.

    RWI is fab and I am a great advocate of it. (But have never heard of the 100% accuracy/90% accuracy dilemma of which you post.) Sending home two RWI books a week for decoding practice is a great idea and means children are simply practising at home and can read the books well enough to add in discussion and comprehension.
    The third book is probably an idea dictated to the classteacher from someone way above them, who has no clue about early reading and simply wants to avoid throwing away books.

    The staff might find that ignoring questions about challenge is easier than telling parents 'no' and having to deal with the resultant fuss.

    Is you child progressing as they should?
    Is your child happy to go to school?
    Yes, to both and the school is fine and leave it be.

    Other than you think your child should be on harder books, there doesn't seem to be an issue.
    1 person likes this.
  8. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    Don't you consider that these records are an important link for the child between home and school even if its only a book list and a page number initialled by parent or teacher. My grandchildren are very conscientious about wanting the record signed when they read to me. I always thought it stood for a lot but I know nothing about RWI or current trends.
  9. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Never found much mileage in in home / school anything to be honest;)o_O ( I was Secondary )
  10. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    It was always integral to teaching in Primary in my, well out of date, experience.
  11. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I'd try a quick chat with the teacher or TA. When presented with a diary in which I was supposed to log all my child's reading, I just said to the teacher "Do I really have to fill in everything she reads?", and the teacher immediately told me not to bother. (Daughter was a fluent and prolific reader, we both knew that, and the diary just wasn't necessary.)

    I suspect you don't need to write anything in the reading record, and that talking to someone may be a better route to take if you have concerns about the books being sent home. The note in the reading record presumably only reaches the TA while she is teaching that group, and it's probably not her call to make changes, so responding would involve finding the relevant person to discuss, then retrieving the reading record from the child's bookbag.
  12. rbee1

    rbee1 New commenter

    We don't write in children's home school diary to keep workload down. If we set the expectation that we will write in it, the one time we don't some parent or another will complain!
    We have a book to record any 1:1 readers and have guided reading sheets for any groups.
    We put a simple signature in home/school diaries once a week to acknowledge that we have seen/read any comments.

    On the flip side of this, we use class dojo which is much more effective than handwriting a comment.
  13. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    My TA checks our reading records daily. If a parent has written me a message or question she puts it on my desk for me to write them a reply, or I will speak to that parent at home time. Apart from that I don’t look at them. I do think if you have written a concern then some form of response (written or verbal) would be courteous.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    We have face to face for links between parent and teacher.
    We have home -school diaries for those few children who need something more detailed due to SEND or SEMH.
    We have emails for links between parents and teacher, if the child comes to school by school bus.
    We have tapestry for links between teachers and all class parents.
    We have some fancy thing that I don't understand for links between the school office and home.

    A 'reading record' should not be used for anything other than recording reading. And as recording reading is pointless, it therefore has no purpose.
    ld7675 likes this.
  15. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.

    I have to hand it to the school in that they have resolved both my queries as to the challenge of the book and also the 'dialogue' aspect. I have to hand it to them in that both the TA and the Head swung into action. The third book will now be from the next book band up, and they have said that a comment will be made by a TA every week in the Children's Reading Record.

    I think the fact that this is an independent school might also have made a difference. I hope I haven't completely blown my cover by now.
  16. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    Well we'll see whether ctb now appears bewailing being forced to write in every child's reading record as the result of parental complaints ;)

    Seriously, I'm glad you have been able to resolve it to your satisfaction.
    SayItLikeItIs likes this.
  17. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    Well we'll see whether ctb now appears bewailing being forced to write in every child's reading record as the result of parental complaints ;)

    Tee hee!
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Luckily I'm not a TA!
    But I would be supporting my TA in not doing this every week if there wasn't anything worth writing that particular week.
    But a quick 'read well' or 'lovely expressive reading' will probably satisfy parents who insist on having a comment! :rolleyes:

    I'm also in an independent school, and one of the best things compared to state is that we don't tend to do pointless paperwork.
  19. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    No, I know you are not - it was mainly intended as a joke (and in case the directive was applied to all staff not just the TA of this particular group) :)
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I took it that way too!
    TheOracleAtDelphi likes this.

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