Not "setting" in GCSE class

(76 Posts)
Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 14:35:20

My son has just gone into year 10. He is in ability set classes for a few subjects but not for history (hasn't had all his lessons yet so maybe more)

To me there is a huge difference between a potential A* child and one that may work really hard for an E, it feels like the ones in the middle may get lost a little.

I appreciate that it may be down to logistics but is this usual? State school if that makes any difference

Takver Fri 06-Sep-13 15:07:13

I suspect it will depend on the size of the school and the number of pupils choosing a subject? Presumably if only say 25 are doing X subject then they won't be able to set . . .

HmmAnOxfordComma Fri 06-Sep-13 15:37:15

Yep, pretty usual for a normal sized comp - 6 form entry, say - to only have one class worth of pupils taking history etc, so impossible to set.

However, I would say it is reasonably unlikely for anyone aiming for lower than a C to be 'allowed' to take History, iyswim.

I took one really, really unacademic choice for GCSE and the standard of behaviour in those lessons was shocking after all my other lessons in 'top' sets.

BackforGood Fri 06-Sep-13 15:39:39

As others have said. The school will only support dc who are likely to be able to achieve a GCSE, to actually enter a subject like history (an option, rather than core subject), so it's not such a big problem, plus, of course there won't always be that many taking that as an option.

Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 16:06:51

I think it is two or three classes of 27 or so, the school has about 240 children per year.

Thanks for all your comments it's been so long since I took any exams!!!!

cricketballs Fri 06-Sep-13 16:09:50

Every school I have worked in have never stopped a child choosing an option because they are not likely to achieve higher than a C. (It's usually the other way round, i.e. high ability students 'talked out' of a subject/qualification).

I have groups every yearwith targets ranging from A* - E......it's hard work to ensure that work is differentiated but that's what we have been trained to do grin

creamteas Fri 06-Sep-13 16:31:34

My DCs school (state comp) only has one GCSE history class for the last couple of year despite a 200 entry. They have no barrier to entry, but in practice the kids choosing it were a pretty selective group grin.

Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:11:59

Thanks cricketball don't doubt the teachers ability but it seemed really odd, thought he might have the wrong end of the stick....just me grin

creamteas from what he said it doesn't sound that selective but he has no patience!!

coco27 Fri 06-Sep-13 19:09:10

I am not sure, it is mainly learning facts isn't it? I am not sure how you would differentiate teaching

Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 19:24:00

I know it's a different subject but for English in year 9 the top set read a gothic novel and wrote a review and the 3rd set (I think it was) watched a gothic film and wrote about it.

Just not sure how an approach like that would work with history. Plus I have just found out that in science they are split into a boys class and a girls class, again not by ability.

Waferthinmint Fri 06-Sep-13 19:32:02

Quite usual for a history class to be like this. Option choices often mean there is only one group having a lesson at a particular time. I have regularly taught classes from a*-e and it can and does work. Takes a lot of planning on the part of the teacher.

Nothing stopping you emailing the teacher to ask further

Phineyj Fri 06-Sep-13 19:32:08

You may want to consider a tutor later if he gets bored and hacked off? I taught some wide ability humanities classes during my training and it is hard not to teach to the middle. I am in awe of teachers who can do what cricketballs can do but I think it takes a lot of experience and a school that cares about students who can do more than get a C or who will never reach a C. Hopefully that is true of your son's school.

Phineyj Fri 06-Sep-13 19:35:05

wafer and cricket how do you manage to plan for a class ranging from A* to E in detail? Am genuinely interested. I was given little guidance on this. Sorry OP, it is an interesting question!

Maisycat Fri 06-Sep-13 19:57:28

Phineyj, a huge amount of planning and tweaking resources! I am a head of history, we have between 65 and 80 students per year taking GCSE history but due to timetable restrictions we cannot set, so all classes are mixed ability. Luckily I have a great team an we manage to get most students a C or above. But, we use a lot of after school and lunchtimes and near exams Saturday mornings running differentiated groups; so A and A star pupils get work and help to get them a very high grade and lower grade students get appropriate help too, usually they achieve higher then their predicted grades. Enthusiasm helps a lot in history, which is not about learning facts but researching, analysing and forming opinions.

Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:03:14

No problemphineyj the more information I have the better

waferthinmint I will definately email in a few weeks and see how the land lies. I have asked ds1 to ask as well. If its the way it's done then fair enough

Phineyj Fri 06-Sep-13 21:32:34

That is interesting - so in essence you are setting the students but doing it in addition to the mixed lessons. That makes sense (they are lucky you give up your evenings and weekends) -- I just never understood how we were supposed to teach several levels of lessons simultaneously.

Sorry OP, will stop derailing now!

mumslife Fri 06-Sep-13 21:49:46

My dd took gcse history two mixed ability sets but most taking it were fairly academic quite an academic subject most but not all were in topset english if you take a non academic subject then you do have lower ability students in these subjects and there is more messing about

Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 22:27:30

Think you're right mumslife most of his subjects are academic, the only two I'm unsure of is citizenship and business studies as they are both new this year

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 06-Sep-13 22:37:56

I think, logistically, it can be very hard for schools to set optional GCSEs. Even if there are 2-3 classes, they can be split across different option blocks, so that as many students as possible get their subject choices. This means not all history classes happen at the same time.

Does your son actually know all the targets of the children in his class?

Sammy3 Sat 07-Sep-13 01:23:05

Similar situation to DS' school. He's in top set for other subjects but has been told throughout his schooling that he's especially good at history. However at his high school, there are 2 GCSE history classes & we were told they're not set. He's found the last year extremely boring, even though we raised concerns early in the year when he noticed that he & another student were miles ahead of the others, half of whom he said weren't actually interested in history. The school does the EBacc so I think that means some kids take history or geography because they have to, so no self-selecting group there. Even though we spoke to the teacher about his interest in history, he doesn't try to push DS.

Sammy3 Sat 07-Sep-13 01:29:15

They're not set for geography either so DS is experiencing the same thing there, but that's just served to extinguish his interest in doing geography at A level. He still wants to do history at A level since he wants to study it at uni, though he's getting fed up there too, so I'm having to find ways of keeping his interest going in that by buying some books on Ancient Greece.

frogspoon Sat 07-Sep-13 08:29:42

I think your situation is pretty common.

It's not an ideal situation, as you have said teaching a lesson which will stretch the most able A* students whilst supporting the weakest E students is extremely difficult.

It's probably just a timetabling issue. Most students will choose 3-5 options depending on what the school offers and their ability, and the school then has to try and organise a timetable that meets as many of the students choices as possible. It is hard enough to do this without creating a few sets/ bands as well.

The splitting science by gender but not set is a bit unusual. However statistically girls who are taught in a single sex environment are more likely to continue studying science, especially physics, beyond GCSE, so maybe this is what the school is aiming for.

Rufus43 Sat 07-Sep-13 09:41:46

slower he doesn't know the targets of the other children, I just assumed that it would be set like his other subjects and how it was in the dark ages when I took history. People are quite right on this thread, children who picked history probably have an interest in it.

frogspoon I understand what you are saying, but in his case he would be much better off in a girls class! May consider changing his appearance and smuggling him in!

Thanks for all your help, I will probably still query it but at least I have more of an understanding of why it might be the case

JenaiMorris Sat 07-Sep-13 09:52:47

I would have thought History was one subject that doesn't need setting, although it must be a lot easier to teach if it is. You could set a Y6, a Y9, a Y12, an undergrad and Eric Hobsbawm the same question about the same topic quite easily, assuming they'd all learnt about it.

I'm not a teacher though. And I think Eric Hobsbawm might be dead.

At ds's school history, geography and RE are set in Y8 and Y9, but not at GCSE (nor in Y7).

Rufus43 Sat 07-Sep-13 10:37:00

jenai you are probably right, I just spoke to him about maths and we agreed that you couldn't put a non academic child into top set maths so it wouldn't happen

As you said history is probably an easier subject to teach to a variety of interested students

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