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Independent School Question about Sets

(2 Posts)
nowomansland Wed 19-Nov-14 22:34:14

My DD is currently in Y3 at a london independent prep school (after successfully gaining an academic scholarship). Since joining this year, all the children have been grouped into specific top, middle or bottom sets for literacy and maths. It is common knowledge within their class as to which set is which and who is in which one. I know that since the beginning of the year, the children have been going through tests and assessments to identify the best sets for them and I appreciate there will be movement within these sets. However, recently I heard that a number of girls were moved to the top sets and each time this happens the parents are emailed about the move. This resulted in one of the girls "boasting" to the other children about her impending move to the top set. I am a bit perplexed to this that this is normal practice within schools. I know that we discuss sets etc at parents meeting but have never heard of movement between sets being made to me such a big thing ! Is this normal? I find this practice totally unnecessary.

On a another note, I have been waiting for the term to finish to understand what is involved when assessing which sets the children are put in. My daughter is at a very high level in maths (her scholarship was based on her academic abilities especially maths). I don't feel she is challenged enough and I do feel that this may be because she is not in the correct set. She says she is one of a handful of children constantly achieving full marks in her tests and she finds the work easy (and has done it all before). The homework she gets is also quite simple in my opinion (done and dusted in minutes).

I was waiting till the new term to bring it up as I am pretty sure the teachers are still getting to know my child and her capabilities. Should I approach her teacher with my concerns? Should I leave it till next term once things have settled a bit more?

irisha Thu 20-Nov-14 13:43:23

It really depends on the school in terms of how things are done.

In our school sets have always been common knowledge, including among children. They knew who got "promoted" or "demoted" (DD's terminology) in terms of sets, based on termly exams. Of course, parents would be informed, perhaps not routinely but at least if they even questioned this as an issue.

With regards to your DD's set, what do you mean when you say she might not be in the right set? I would assume that being a scholar, she would be placed into the top set.

That said, even in the top set the work may be boring. Unless you are in a prep that has a large selective intake at 7+ (e.g. Bute or Latymer), you'd end up with a relatively mixed cohort and top set will have plenty of bright, but not super bright/zoom ahead of the planet kids. So that may be reflected in the level of material they cover. On the other hand, plenty of London prep have a special extension group that meets once to several times a week to do extension work that would be on top of classwork covered. Depends on the school though.

On your question of approaching the teacher to talk about whether she is in the right set, no need to wait, especially if they were sitting tests/assessments - that would provide an objective baseline to discuss any issues.

Ours did Progress in Maths and Progress in English papers (set by GL) + reading/spelling age tests. My discussions with teachers were anchored in results of those. Worth asking if they do CATs, although I think they come in Yr4, but may be mistaken.

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