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To think ability setting in primary school is a crap idea?

(144 Posts)
mrsshears Wed 31-Oct-12 18:02:51

I don't mean different work as obviously that is essential to cater to different abilities I mean all of this 'Top table' rubbish, I think it creates problems and becomes a self fulfiling prophecy for all involved, there must be a better system,AIBU?

Hullygully Wed 31-Oct-12 18:05:05

like what?

alphabite Wed 31-Oct-12 18:07:41

Come up with a remarkable idea then. I am sure you must have better ideas than people who have taught for 10 years.

kim147 Wed 31-Oct-12 18:09:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cantspel Wed 31-Oct-12 18:11:33

I have never heard of the top set being referred to as the top table infact in my experience they bend over backwards not to use terms like that.

It is now only in secondary that they have any idea which set they are in but in primary they were in the green group, red group or any other colour used group.

PumpkInDublic Wed 31-Oct-12 18:13:04

Well, I think Alphabite has it in one.

Group names are best when kept neutral Kim, I agree with you there. DS's groups are "The Marines", "The Pheasants" and other random bits.

mrsshears Wed 31-Oct-12 18:13:43

I wish I had one.I should add I speak as having a child in a top set who became lazy and complacent as she was in the top set and the same child who is in a middle group and thinks she is rubbish at that subject as she isn't in a top set.
I also have a good friend who's dd is in bottom for everything and has next to no confidence as a result of realising this.

ChasingSquirrels Wed 31-Oct-12 18:14:12

at my dc's school the groups are just different names (rather than top/middle/bottom or 1/2/3), but it is fairly obvious to the children whether they are the higher or lower groups.

LeeCoakley Wed 31-Oct-12 18:15:52

So it would be better to sit at random tables and make it completely obvious to a lower set child that the others had harder work?

kim147 Wed 31-Oct-12 18:17:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeeCoakley Wed 31-Oct-12 18:17:58

Our maths sets are circles, triangles, rectangles, pentagons and hexagons. The more sides, the harder the work.

dearprudence Wed 31-Oct-12 18:19:56

The range of abilities can be very wide, even in a single year-group class. Ability tables for key subjects makes sense to me. Even if you give the tables names that don't equate to ability (which I think is the right thing to do), IME the children still know which the 'top' and 'bottom' tables are.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Wed 31-Oct-12 18:20:05

It seriouslydosnt matter what you call the groups the kids in the class know which child is clever at certain subjects.They are not daft they can work it out themselves.

alphabite Wed 31-Oct-12 18:21:40

Whatever way you sit children they are going to be aware of their ability compared to their peers. They suss the siruation out very easily whether you set for subject, sit on ability tables or have a randim mix. As a teacher I tried all these methods. The kids still knew. I knew when I was very young too. I knew I was top in English and rubbish at maths (middle of the class). Children just know.

kim147 Wed 31-Oct-12 18:23:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

alphabite Wed 31-Oct-12 18:23:22

Sorry about typos. Stupid phone!

WheelieBinRebel Wed 31-Oct-12 18:25:32

My DD is 7 and AFAIK they only put her year in ability groups for reading. I am not adverse to it and as others have said it makes sense to stream them for subjects like maths and literacy.

BandersnatchCummerbund Wed 31-Oct-12 18:26:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EBDTeacher Wed 31-Oct-12 18:29:03

I'm about to move to a primary school with 1000 kids on role where they actually set (as in different classes) by ability for maths and English. Let you know what that's like when I get there..

CaliforniaLeaving Wed 31-Oct-12 19:14:15

Our school does red circles, yellow squares and green triangles.
Thats what ours does, and who is in the group changes with the subject. The teacher also mixes it up with top group readers might be Blue triangles and top group for math red circles. So kids move between the groups, they know where they go for each subject.
The school has about 700 or more kids this year.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 31-Oct-12 19:14:45

EBD - our school started doing that two years ago. From year 1 upwards, they have different classes for maths and english, based on ability.

Results have soared upwards. I don't think this is a coincidence.

So, although I would agree that the "top table" should not be allowed to get away with swanking about their status, I totally disagree that ability groups should be abolished.

redskyatnight Wed 31-Oct-12 19:25:19

DS's teacher doesn't use ability tables. He has the children sat in alphabetical order. DS still knows exactly who is getting the "hard work", "normal work" and "easy work" (his words)..

Whoknowswhocares Wed 31-Oct-12 19:31:10

I can never quite understand why ability setting is ever seen as less than a positive. As has been said here, the kids all know they have different abilities anyway. How can being taught at a pace which reflects your learning ability be anything other than a good idea, whatever table you sit at?

WofflingOn Wed 31-Oct-12 19:32:53

I don't think mrz's school has ability grouping for anything IIRC.
We do, but it works well because the school ethos is that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, praise and recognition for those strengths goes cross-curricular and into pastoral areas and the targets set are individual, so you are matching against what you achieved previously.
Asking for clarification and support if you are uncertain is generally perceived as a strength by the children. Plus someone who is a poor speller may be an exceptionally imaginative writer, someone who has poor arithmetic may be good at geometry and someone who struggles academically may be a great runner or a wonderful, caring and helpful person. All those aspects go to building a healthy self-image and building a resilient learner.
I was fab at reading and spelling and rubbish at sports. smile

TalkinPeace2 Wed 31-Oct-12 19:34:51

Setting should be done as EARLY as possible for as many subjects as possible.
It is the ONLY reliable way to ensure that children are working at their own pace
BUT
sets should be reviewed and shuffled at least on a termly basis to take account of those who grasp things at different speeds

the trouble with seating kids other than by ability is that copying becomes rife, rather than supporting each other to learn (and healthy competition).

A late developer in DDs year went from set 5 to set 1 in a term and a half.
GOOD management by the school.

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