Is it really more important to set for PE than other subjects? And how do they do it?

(43 Posts)
SomeRainbow Sat 23-Feb-13 09:30:42

Not an imminent issue otherwise I'd ask the school, but just wondering... Our secondary set for PE and Maths from Y7 and MFL in Y9. Now I can see the merits of setting for PE but I can see many merits for setting for all sorts of subjects. (Went through a rigid streaming system myself and find it very difficult to get my head round mixed ability teaching at all). And if your school do this how do they actually assess the ability of the children in PE?

lljkk Sat 23-Feb-13 11:12:33

good question, I will ask DS (y8).

OddBoots Sat 23-Feb-13 11:21:38

I think they set PE in Y7 at DS's school (They streamed other subjects based on Maths and English results). This has been really useful for DS as he's pretty poor at PE and while he knows this he hasn't had the hatred of the subject he might have had if that was in his face all the time by being in with the very good ones.

I do think there is a benefit to sets/streams for most subjects, I guess the argument that is is more important for PE is because by the age of 11 you probably aren't going to make a developmental leap and suddenly be good at it but it is vital to build some activity into your life on a long term basis.

LemonBreeland Sat 23-Feb-13 11:43:55

We were set for math and english at secondary school. Our English set was the one we were in for all other subjects, including pe and science. hmm

I would have loved pe sets, being crap at it. I imagine people who are good at sport would appreciate it too.

Loshad Sat 23-Feb-13 12:42:50

the best form of pe setting imo varies dependent on the sport, so for example boys in set 1 for rugby would not necessarily be in set 1 for cricket. This only works if the whole/half year group can be timetabled for pe at the same time.

ReallyTired Sat 23-Feb-13 13:02:09

I think that PE sets are a great idea. It helps children to compete against children of a similar standard. County level atheletes and dyspraxic children gain nothing competing against each other.

The sad thing is the level of control the governant wants over the PE curriculum. It would be great if fat obcese children could be helped to lose weight and taught how to eat healthily in PE and the super atheletes have a competely seperate PE curriculum.

Unfit children often prefer activites like dance or trampolining where they aren't humilated.

bigTillyMint Sat 23-Feb-13 13:08:16

My friends DS's school set for PE and it has been the making of at least one of her sons who has shone in the bottom group.

DS wishes they set for PE in his school - he might stand some chance of shining at the top of the top setsmile

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 13:12:53

I think it's a really interesting question, as there are so many facets to PE. You could be great a gym but weak at Rugby or a fab trampolinest but no stamina for cross country. I'm not sure how they would have assessed an 'overall' picture in time to be able to set in Yr7.
ds's school never set for PE, and dd's have set this year - in Yr9 - when I guess the PE staff will have had 2 yrs to see all pupils across a range of sports.
I'd like to know how they do decide though, to be able to set in Yr7

GoldenGreen Sat 23-Feb-13 13:15:47

No advice but just wanted to say it's great to hear schools do this now. I was terrible at pe and would have really benefited from being in a bottom set instead of being humiliated three times a week.

ReallyTired Sat 23-Feb-13 13:29:48

"I'd like to know how they do decide though, to be able to set in Yr7"

I imagine you could test children's PE ablities. Ie. can they catch a ball, how fast they can run, how many times they can skip in 2 minutes, can they touch their toes etc. How far can a child run in 30 minutes? What is a child's balance like?

Prehaps you could get reports from primary school teachers like other subjects.

I would like PE to support other subjects, for example weak upper body strength or hand eye coordination often affects hand writing.

OddBoots Sat 23-Feb-13 14:21:13

I know DS did the beep test, an obstacle course, football, tennis, long distance running and trampolining early in y7, I'm not sure if these were used for sets but I imagine so. He hasn't moved sets but others have so it seems flexible.

DS has hypermobility so already does a lot of gymball and physio stuff at home so he is pretty strong and we do a lot of walking and swimming as a family so he is also quite but not very fit. He's never going to be great at traditional PE but a lot of people aren't.

SomeRainbow Sat 23-Feb-13 16:10:45

Thanks for the thoughts. I too would have appreciated being set in PE, so can see the advantages. I just find it odd that PE is given such special treatment when other subjects are not.

AScorpionPitForMimes Sat 23-Feb-13 16:17:21

I'm not sure about setting for PE, and I also disagree that by age 11 they are not going to make any developmental leaps - DD1 has certainly made a big one. She grew in a pretty unbalanced way through Yr6 - think longer limbs she didn't know what to do with - and in the first term of Yr7 had another growth spurt and is now much more in proportion and much more coordinated. She's certainly have started Yr7 in a bottom set for PE and been really demoralised, but instead she now plays basketball and netball for the school and is good at volleyball too.

The way they did PE at my school (in Holland) was that multiple classes in a year group had PE at the same time and there was a choice of activities within the constraints of the curriculum. Everyone got the chance to develop skills without being humiliated at anything.

prettydaisies Sat 23-Feb-13 17:53:09

Mine go to 2 different secondary schools and both sort of set for PE, but in different ways.
One they all do games at the same time. Some children are in the A team, some in the B team, some in the Cs etc and they do games in their teams. After year 8, they choose whether to do the main game each term or different PE activities. They are not in the same teams for all the main sports.
The other one set them generally for PE after half a term. I think they did running, football and table tennis and set them from there. However, it doesn't seem to be set in stone, e.g. DD wants to play netball for the school, but her set are currently doing volleyball. However the set below hers are doing netball so she asked if she could join them for the time being and it didn't seem to be a problem!

GoingBackToSchool Sat 23-Feb-13 18:40:25

In the school I went to PE was 'mixed', but all the good children ended up in one group, crap ones in another groups (me being one!). When we had to join with 'the good group' for certain things it was hell! No fun for anyone!
I deffinitely think setting in certain other subjects is more important, though

lljkk Sat 23-Feb-13 18:49:11

Wow, didn't expect that.
Half of DS entire year group (160 pupils) has PE at same time. Then they are further divided into 5 groups (so 16 pupils each) for the actual games & exercises.

DS is pretty sure he's in the top 5th of the bottom half, but no idea how he got put there. The school never did any diagnostic testing on him, not even CATs for the academics.

purpleroses Sat 23-Feb-13 19:06:17

My DS's school did it based on teacher assessment in the first few weeks. DS had his arm in a cast at this time so ended up in bottom set. Teacher asked him a few months later if he'd like to move up but DS say No Way, he doesn't like the competitive sporty kids and is much happier in the lower set!

The reasons some schools don't set for other subjects is to avoid "labelling" children - but I guess the kids who are not great at sport don't really care about being labelled as such.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 23-Feb-13 19:18:26

Another one who wished desperately there'd been setting for PE when I was at school (though I would have been top set for indoor stuff - dance/gym/swim - and bottom for games...I agree that you can vary on ability dependent on the type of sport!)

Ds's schools sets for games but not for PE which seems reasonable - the rugby team are off playing matches whilst the lower set are doing rugby skills - whereas in PE they are doing new stuff all together (proper gym/circuit training/athletics not taught so much as team sports in primary schools?)

creamteas Sat 23-Feb-13 20:58:52

DC's school set for PE, I have no idea on what basis. This happens in year 8, whereas much other subjects they use sets from year 7. PE only seems to consist of team ball games rather than a range of sports.

I think this is a good idea in principle, but inevitably it means that bottom sets also includes the disruptive kids, This means that kids like my DS who has ASD and dyspraxia still end up finding PE difficult sad

Lancelottie Sat 23-Feb-13 23:06:46

We also have children at two different secondaries.

One school has sort of optional setting -- the pupils choose whether to go for 'adventure', 'strength' or 'team' stream each term. Adventure is stuff like climbing wall, cycling, cross country; team is football/netball/cricket, and I think strength it some weird mix of salsa and gym work. DS thinks it works fine.

The other sets in a more traditional way (but DS2 says no one has to do rugby if they don't want to!).

Admittedly my boys are both wusses, but at least this way they can become slightly fitter wusses without anyone ranting at them.

BackforGood Sat 23-Feb-13 23:26:53

creamteas I actually think that quite a few children who can be very disruptive in a classroom, are quite often children who excel at sport - it strikes me that PE is an area where there wouldn't be any correlation between children with behavioural issues and children who are least able.

<Thinking of dd's football team manager who was in despair recently as two of his better players were on a week's ban from representing the school at sport, due to some misdemeanours in school >

creamteas Sun 24-Feb-13 00:05:55

back that might be true except that they demote kids who don't 'play nicely' to lower sets as a punishment. So anyone who fouls too often, or talks back gradually sinks to the bottom regardless of their sporting ability....

tiggytape Sun 24-Feb-13 10:43:35

I'd only ever heard of this at private schools (teams A,B and C for all sports and everyone allocated a place but could be team A for cricket and team C for rugby etc) or in schools with small year groups (less than 150 per year).

The schools near us have huge year groups and don't set for P.E. They set for a variety of subjects - mostly maths, English, science and MFL and sometimes the Humanities set is the same as the English set.

P.E is mixed ability and based on tutor group (registration group). DS has mobility issues and finds P.E difficult but the teachers are very good at differentiating the lessons for him and for the other children who have medical conditions or are just not very sporty. Hopefully they are equally good at differentiating for the super-sporty children too.

bigTillyMint Sun 24-Feb-13 10:55:27

tiggy, the school my friends DS's go to is a state comp. It's for the lessons that they set, although they may have A and B, etc teams.

They don't set at my DS's school, but I think the PE teachers must be good at differentiating as mine no longer complain (like they did at primary!)

ReallyTired Sun 24-Feb-13 10:56:03

"I think this is a good idea in principle, but inevitably it means that bottom sets also includes the disruptive kids, This means that kids like my DS who has ASD and dyspraxia still end up finding PE difficult "

I don't think that ablity in PE has anything to do with behaviour or ablity in academics.

"back that might be true except that they demote kids who don't 'play nicely' to lower sets as a punishment. So anyone who fouls too often, or talks back gradually sinks to the bottom regardless of their sporting ability.... "

If badly behaved children are demoted to the lower sets for PE then that is really wrong. It implies that being in a the bottom set for PE is a permament punishment. Children who misbehave in maths don't get put in a lower set. In properly run schools children who misbehave get put in isolation or sent to the head of year.

If it is really the case that badly behaved atheletic children get put in the lower sets then I think you should complain formally to the school.

bigTillyMint Sun 24-Feb-13 11:16:57

Completely agree, ReallyTired. If there are sporty children disrupting, then they need to findmore effective ~ays of ~orking ~ith them.

creamteas Sun 24-Feb-13 11:40:20

I really wish they would work with the disruptive children differently, but the way it works is also related to assessment. Top sets in PE take GCSE, middle sets take BTEC sport and the bottom do recreation only. So that is why the disruptive kids end up at the bottom, as they don't want to 'study' sport.

From numerous complaints conversations with the school over the bullying problems in PE, their belief is that disruptive kids need to run around and let off steam, so they refuse to use the usual sanctions against them

OddBoots Sun 24-Feb-13 13:42:12

Maybe they need one of those ex-army teachers that were proposed a year or two ago just to teach PE to the disruptive ones.

Thankfully as DS's (large state comp) school disruptive children aren't dropped a set, I'm not sure how they deal with them but however it is it works.

hoodoo12345 Sun 24-Feb-13 14:48:38

My DD will be set for PE in year 8 onwards,where they will eventually do different exams.
I think it is a good idea, i might of stood a chance if i had of been set back in the day.

Thumbwitch Sun 24-Feb-13 14:53:04

That's interesting - the secondary school I went to streamed for Maths, all sciences and all Languages (except English - although it may have streamed for English Lit, I don't remember cos I didn't do it). Didn't stream for P.E. though and tbh I can't see how it would have worked unless the least capable students were given different sports to do?

OddBoots Sun 24-Feb-13 15:23:21

My DS is in the bottom set for PE (and has been since Y7) so that is all I know but from what I can see they do some different sports but there is overlap, he's never done rugby and does very little football, he does a fair bit of the racket sports and athletics, some circuit training, cricket, trampolining and judo.

bigTillyMint Sun 24-Feb-13 15:46:36

OddBoots, that sounds great that they offer different sports for the lower sets - the problem with PE is that it tends to focus on team sports and ball sports which some children find really difficult, but they can shine in other areas when a sport grabs their interest. And a decent level of fitness is good for all children (so circuit training, etc is perfect)

BackforGood Sun 24-Feb-13 17:01:55

Completely agree ReallyTIred and bigTillyMint - that really is not right that the less able get lumped with the disruptive ones when it's not even linked to ability angry

ReallyTired Sun 24-Feb-13 20:36:16

I wonder what OFSTED would think of punishing high ablity children by putting them with low ablity children. Differentiation is about meeting learning needs rather than seperating children into groups who are worthy and groups who are deemed sub human.

I feel that a formal written complaint to the governors is the best way to challenge such a policy. Bright distruptive children don't get put in bottom sets for Maths and it should not happen for any other subject.

creamteas Sun 24-Feb-13 20:57:02

Bright distruptive children don't get put in bottom sets for Maths

No, but because they spend lessons in the internal exclusion room, they don't actually get to stay in the same room as the non-disruptive top set DC...

The problem is that the PE dept doesn't follow the same behaviour sanctions as the rest of the school. Everyone wants the disruptive kids to run around outside, and higher sets have to do theory as part of the curriculum, so this is not seen as appropriate for many of them. In other words, it is not formally a punishment (but everybody knows that it is).

AChickenCalledKorma Sun 24-Feb-13 22:43:34

Am so wishing that DD1 could go to Lancelottie's school. She would LOVE the idea of an "adventure" stream and we'd be able to knock on the head the idea that she's "no good at sports". Cycling, climbing and cross country would suit her down to the ground (or should that be up in the air grin)

Lancelottie Mon 25-Feb-13 14:40:42

Yes, it's a fab school in most respects -- we're very lucky, or at least DS1 was. But we're out of catchment, and it's so oversubscribed that DS2 and DD are going elsewhere.

Never mind. 'No rugby unless you actually want to' is enough for my younger two!

TiffIsKool Tue 26-Feb-13 15:15:38

I don't see what the issue is.

Which one is more demoralizing? Being in the bottom set for athletics or being the kid being repeated lapped by the fast kids?

ReallyTired Tue 26-Feb-13 16:34:47


My impression is that most people on this thread are in favour of setting for PE. Children will have a PE curriculum to suit their physical needs.

lainiekazan Wed 27-Feb-13 13:27:29

Oh, if only there had been setting for PE in my day! It might have made me less of a couch potato and even fostered some desire to exercise. As it was, I was always picked last, jeered at, prayed for rain/gym burning down...

Ds is in Year 10 and is hopeless at anything physical. He often says it's unreasonable not to set for games and PE when they do so for academic subjects.

It must be equally frustrating for those who are sporty to be lumbered with uncoordinated elephants on their team or have to wait for ages until the last two wheezing and gasping runners finally lope over the finish line of the 1500 m.

iseenodust Wed 27-Feb-13 14:18:12

There was setting for PE in my day - if you were on the academic stream you were told to give up PE for a 'proper' o level. <old gimmer who doesn't set foot in a gym>

So far Lancelottie's school sounds the best for all abilities.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 27-Feb-13 22:36:01

My son's school have short-term setting for Games (term each of rugby, football and cricket) - the whole year (4 forms) do games at the same time, in their form for the first half term, and then in a mixed-form set for the second. He's only in y7 so I don't know if that changes in y8. They also have (indoor) PE, but I think that's in their forms.

Dd2 used to have some not-very-granular setting - there was a boys group and a girls group and then a mixed lower set who played games more than sports. Now she's in y10 and they seem to be much more split up throughout the timetable.

Dd1 had never had any sort of setting, but they have had a lot of choice since y9 about which PE options they wanted to do, so that's quite self-selecting.

wol1968 Thu 28-Feb-13 13:13:58

I wish they had set for PE at my school! (though it was so small that it made setting unfeasible). Due to a lazy eye which wasn't corrected until I was 13, I have no 'ball sense' whatsoever, so anything involving catching or throwing objects is a complete waste of my time. But I was happy to do walking, hiking, cross-country and even exercise classes. I just hope this could be done without anyone attaching any 'status' to each stream.

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