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Streaming/Setting - Does your school do it? Are you pro or anti?

(45 Posts)
ButWhyIsTheGinGone Tue 04-Oct-11 18:30:16

Hello all,
Am just curious to hear from others on the subject of setting. I am a teacher of 5 years and am currently teaching my hair out with a particularly wide ranging class - in Literacy ranging from P scales (pre-level 1) up to level 5. And it's not just the case of an average class with one or two exceptions either end - they're a right mixed bunch!
I have wondered for the last couple of years whether streaming might not benefit everyone. It means those who are more able could be allowed to progress at an accelerated rate whilst those who struggle could be given more of the support they need. Obviously, I differentiate to the absolute best of my ability, but during the "input" part of the lesson I'm sometimes aware I'm gonig over some kids' heads or not stretching others.
Does your school do this? DO people think there's still a stigma attached to setting? Any thoughts/opinions would be interesting!

Iamnotminterested Tue 04-Oct-11 18:41:51

I think it is a good idea PROVIDING there can be movement between sets.

reallytired Tue 04-Oct-11 18:42:22

Streaming in having seperate classes for high and low achieving children only happens in large primary schools

I thought that virtually all primary schools use setting. Ie. grouping by ablity for maths, English and science. In my son's class some children are high achievers in maths, but find English harder and vica a versa. For example my son is in the top group for English, but the second from top group for swimming. My son's class has a very bright EAL child who is very good at maths, but is still learning English. It is important that grouping is flexible and groupings are reviewed. My son class has several tables which are the same standard where children get seperated for social reasons.

The primary school I went to was really depressing. The children were on the same table for every subject. I had the mistfortune to be on the stupid table and it was very demoralising. (Ha Ha I got a physics degree now!) The children on the top table were very arrogant. It was a bad system as it failed to acknowlegde different strengths and weaknesses.

talkingnonsense Tue 04-Oct-11 18:50:28

I know of a couple of big primaries that set across year groups of literacy and numeracy, but that doesn't work in a one form entry. Setting across year groups can be a nightmare timetable/ resources wise and can be hard for chdn working below their age. I think it's a real drawback to the numeracy hour, previously I'd have done input on 3 levels with the others occupied, and now it's very hard if you have a wide spread. Sorry that's no help is it?!

ButWhyIsTheGinGone Tue 04-Oct-11 19:00:51

Thanks for these ideas so far - interesting. Reallytired, I'm not sure it's as common as that. Most of my teacher mates from various authorities say their schools do not. We are 2 form entry and it would be really do-able. I'm considering raising it at governors, you see. I think I have it tough - my poor y3 colleage has got kids writing level 4 stories and others who don't know the letter "A". And then there's the developmental issues for her class, too. How do you cater for such a massive range of children? Does anyone think this is something I could raise, or would it be better to talk to the head first?

talkingnonsense Tue 04-Oct-11 19:10:00

Definitely talk to the head/ other staff first! Also I think reallytired might be referring to setting within the class, as I can't see how the staffing would work otherwise. How much wiggle room is there in the curriculum for excellence to at least split your whole class session in 2? ( been out of teaching for a bit!)

administrator Tue 04-Oct-11 19:22:40

We are a medium size school and we stream across 2 year groups. 1/2, 3/4, 5/6 for maths and English separately. We also have the intervention groups going on at the same time as the classes are split.
I won't deny it was chaos for a couple of weeks while the children got used to moving around! You'll need a group list and be prepared to rescue stray children from groups they shouldn't be in (!) but it seems like now, the children are getting the education they NEED.

mercibucket Tue 04-Oct-11 19:29:41

Setting but not streaming - all schools here have dif groups by ability for numeracy + literacy, coming back to whole class later
Don't stream - far less flexible

mercibucket Tue 04-Oct-11 19:29:41

Setting but not streaming - all schools here have dif groups by ability for numeracy + literacy, coming back to whole class later
Don't stream - far less flexible

teacherwith2kids Tue 04-Oct-11 19:34:43

Might love to stream with my class (range from p6 to Level 4 in both Maths and Literacy).

In a small school (PAN of 20 but single year classes in KS2) there just isn't any opportunity, as even combining a couple of years and then splitting them back down between the two available teeachers would only bring the rangel down slightly (one set might be levels 3 - 5 and the other levels p5 /6 up to top of Level 2). The advantages in terms of slightly reduced range would be undone by the inflexibility of logistics in having to keep both classes to EXACTLY the same timetable all the time - I currently get the opportunity to e.g. spend longer on literacy some days, or start with Maths some days but not others for example.

IndigoBell Tue 04-Oct-11 20:40:16

Govs can't get involved with decisions like this. It would be the decision of the SLT or possibly the literacy / numeracy coordinator.

My schools a 3 form entry and we've gone back and forth on streaming. But the kids who are well below where they should be are taken out for literacy and numeracy.

What year are you teaching? Why do the children on P scales not have statements? (assuming you're in ks2)

slavetofilofax Tue 04-Oct-11 20:44:01

My dc's primary school has sets for Maths, English and Science and it works well. I would be quite worried if they didn't have sets tbh! As you say, it can be very hard to teach such a broad range of abilities in one class, and none of the pupils are benefiting as much as they could be.

I would definately talk to some of the other teachers and the head about this, and maybe go in armed with some suggestions of how you think it could work.

anthonytrollopesrevenge Tue 04-Oct-11 21:44:47

My DCs school sets quite strictly, from reception onwards. My DD was very aware that she was not reading at the level of some of her friends and found it off-putting. She didn't progress in spring or summer term and basically sat in the sand pit and refused to do any school work - she was in yr r. Come the summer holidays and suddenly away from school she wanted to learn and did, very quickly. I'm not sure what the school can do about this but I'm not so keen on setting at the moment because of this.

DS, in yr 4, is in top set for maths. It isn't extending him, he is bored and learning nothing new so far this year, more tables and mental arithmetic all of which he could do last year easily. He is in a middle set for English and is cruising - not putting in much effort and not being challenged, just lazing along drawing pictures of cricket matches.

This is in theory a good school, but quality of teachers does vary from year to year in all schools, whether expensive private or state.

Setting won't work unless done effectively. Before the kids went to school I would have been enthusiastic about setting and I still probably prefer having it to not having it. But it does have downsides for some children at least.

fivalentine Tue 04-Oct-11 22:05:26

my sons ps(approx 200 pupils) stream for maths and english. from a personal point of view i think it is fantastic as my son has problems with english and is in the year below his actual age but the year above for maths. this means he is workibg at the correct level for his ability in both subjects . also there is no problems re movement between levels if the children are struggeling or excelling at a subject.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 04-Oct-11 22:17:50

My daughters' school is a two form entry and sets across both classes in literacy and numeracy. So children may move into the other class in their year group for a maths lesson. And within that "set" there seem to be 3 or 4 ability groups. So in total there could be 8 different ability groups, but each teacher only has to cater for 4 of them.

In topic-based work, science and humanities, they work in mixed ability groups within their classes.

From the perspective of a parent of two children who are at the tops of their classes, it seems like a great balance. In reading, writing and maths, my children are able to work with others at their level. DD1 in particular is much more engaged than she was when she was further down the school (at which point they didn't have this policy). At the same time, I think they also benefit from working with others of different ability, which they are able to do in science and humanities. It does DD1 no harm at all to have to slow down a bit, listen to what other children are finding tricky and try and explain things that she just "gets".

insanityscratching Tue 04-Oct-11 22:22:04

Dd's school has sets for numeracy literacy and phonics throughout the school. The three y3/y4 classes split into six sets. Dd's set is an all girls set there is also an all boys set for those with specific learning styles and four other mixed groups. Movement between the groups is common although dd is expected to remain in the all girls group for the whole year this time to measure the benefits of single sex teaching.

ramblinrose Tue 04-Oct-11 22:33:57

I find this a very interesting subject.

My son is now in yr 3.
Last year in his infant school there were two yr 2 classes.
The headteacher decided it was a good idea to separate the two classes on.T he 'more able' in one class,and the children who 'needed to work at a slower pace' in the other.
They were quite open about this in a letter to parents.The children weren't supposed to know,but some were told by their parents that they were in the 'clever' class.
Most parents I spoke to (whichever class),thought this was too early to introduce setting.
Separating classes is far too rigid at this early age,surely.There was obviously no opportunity to move up or down.

I'd just like to add that in the 'more able' class there were 20 girls and 8 boys.
All the boys bar one were born September-December.

skybluepearl Tue 04-Oct-11 23:35:45

My kids are taught in sets and it works well. They have always been moved up and down over the years.

sunnydelight Tue 04-Oct-11 23:54:07

Our school works in stages for literacy and numeracy - Y1/2 together, 3/4 and 5/6 so the children may have to move rooms for these lessons. The groups try and cater to the children's learning styles as well as just ability, a lot of work is done at the beginning of year to identify a child's learning style. It works really well - the classes operate on a cycle of "two weeks teaching, one week consolidation, one week testing, one week "boost" for those who need to catch up". If necessary children will move groups at the end of the cycle if it is felt that they would be better suited to a different group - they might move laterally as well as up or down. Obviously this is a system instigated by the school after a lot of research. It's been running like this for a few years now though.

IHeartKingThistle Wed 05-Oct-11 00:09:07

Ramblinrose your last point is just what worries me. If they are August born, they go into the lower stream early on and for whatever reason may never get out. I have one summer born student in my Year 8 top set. I also have an August born DS. It scares me that he may automatically become - and, worse, think of himself as - 'bottom set material'.

I really hope I'm wrong, and speaking as a teacher I should be assuring myself that children are taught as individuals to the best of their ability. It doesn't stop me worrying though!

iggly2 Wed 05-Oct-11 01:59:08

Children need to be diffentiated for..... so to an extent this must mean setting.

talkingnonsense Wed 05-Oct-11 07:51:13

When people say their school has more sets than classes- eg 3 classes, 6 sets - who is teaching the extra sets? The ta? Or is it two sets with one teacher, which is slightly different? Or are these Private schools?

mummytime Wed 05-Oct-11 08:09:12

My kids school has 12 primary class teachers, they also employ another 3/4 part timers, who take the extra sets as well as 2 SEN teachers. The head also takes some top set Maths, and so on.

IndigoBell Wed 05-Oct-11 08:14:04

Our deputy head and our senco take an extra set.

This is one of the huge advantages of a bigger school. They can afford more teaching staff than classes.

HSMM Wed 05-Oct-11 08:20:29

Our school did setting. A lot of the work was the same, but the more able children got more of it, or had to do it a slightly different way. The less able got more teacher input, or worked as a group, or whatever was appropriate. Sometimes the more able would get sent up to the next class for maths.

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