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"setting and streaming has a negative impact", does it now...

(25 Posts)
Arkadia Sun 19-Mar-17 16:44:26

I was following the thread on children of mixed abilities being paired up and the above comment came up (it was made more than once) and it left me rather confused...
I thought that schools did that as a matter of routine... You divide te class in (for want of better words) "least able", "average able", "more able" and carried on like that so that pupils of similar abilities were working together.
In that thread instead now I am being told that it should be done?? But I have read countless discussions where setting was presented as some kind of panacea. What am I missing?

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 16:47:02

No schools don't do it as a matter of course because the evidence is that it's ineffective at the best and detrimental at the worst.

Arkadia Sun 19-Mar-17 17:00:00

But unless I am very much mistaken, you yourself told me how good that is... Class is given differentiated work and everybody is happy.
(Besides, my school and at lest one other in the area most certainly do it)

toomuchicecream Sun 19-Mar-17 17:11:51

It's something that used to be seen as best practice and many schools continue to do. However, particularly in the light of the 2014 curriculum and more recent educational research, it is becoming more and more common for schools to move away from this.

For the first 12 years of my teaching career, I was judged to be a good teacher if I had lots of different levels of activity going on in my room at the same time and I was spinning around trying to keep everyone on track. The 2014 curriculum expects all pupils to be taught, and to master, the content for their own year group. Instead of being expected to push as many pupils on into future year's content as fast as I can (so that many of them don't fully get to grips with something before they are moved on), I am now expected to stretch and challenge my pupils with this year's content by going sideways and deeper and allowing them to use their knowledge in as many different ways as possible.

The expectation is that as many pupils as possible will achieve the year end expectations by the end of the year. So instead of having groups of children sitting on different tables doing different work, I now often have the whole class doing the same task, but being supported or extended in different ways. For example, through the use of adult support or practical equipment (both children who find the subject easy and those who find it harder). I am now judged to be a good teacher if I find ways to enable all pupils to access the content for my year group so that they are all learning and making progress. It is possible! It's just a massive change from what has gone on in England for such a long time, it's taking a while for people to understand how it can be effectively done in practice.

toomuchicecream Sun 19-Mar-17 17:16:20

In year 1, many of the pupils formerly labelled as less able were those with summer birthdays because they are a full 20% younger than some of their peers - it's no wonder they aren't working in the same way as their older friends. How would you feel if your summer born child was put on a bottom table and given dumbed down work so that as the year went on, the gap between them and their older peers got bigger and bigger? What sort of messages would it send to them about their ability, and what they are expected to achieve at school? Children tend to meet the expectations set for them, so let's set high aspirations for all and then think about the support needed to ensure as many as possible can achive these expectations.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 17:17:57

Differentiation isn't a synonym for setting or streaming and ability grouping

ILoveDolly Sun 19-Mar-17 17:23:12

As the AREs seem to have been raised somewhat I suppose there's less need to differentiate the work, just the way things are taught/support given???

smilingsarahb Sun 19-Mar-17 17:24:48

My children's school have been doing work where the children pick their own level for a task. Chilli challenges. They pick the level they are confident at and if they struggle pick an easier task and if the succeed pick a harder task. Seems to work well...and apparently they don't go for an easy ride. So the work is differentiated to about 4 to 5 levels of challenge (sometimes less) but everyone just sits wherever and one lesson they make it to level 5 and another they might sit at 2 which makes more sense really as some concepts people must find easier than others even within a subject. The class is a mix of year 5 and 6 so a two year age range. My other son in a younger class just sets with top table stuff but they are gradually moving the chilli thing across other classes as it's working well for them.

smilingsarahb Sun 19-Mar-17 17:26:38

I probably haven't explained it that we'll as I don't teach.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 17:36:03

Differentiation doesn't just mean giving children different work ...that's probably the least effective

Tomorrowillbeachicken Sun 19-Mar-17 17:38:29

Does this extend to not giving children different books to read?

MaisyPops Sun 19-Mar-17 17:42:00

Teachers differentiate to meet the needs of the kids in their class. Sometimes thats by class, group, task, support, questions etc.

Anecdotally, I think nurture groups work well at secondary if handled well. Top sets can have a few lazy and complacent kids as they think theyre so smart Equally, you tend to find that with sets theres always someone who wants their kid to move up but cant see that means somebody going down. Realistically there is overlap and a child in set 2 is just as likely to get an A as set 1.
There's pros and cons of settinf and mixed ability. Usually parents who insist on settinf usually end up being the ones who spend all year complaining about which set their kid is in.

smilingsarahb Sun 19-Mar-17 17:47:05

I'm not sure it's different work...This is where being a mum not teacher and trying to explain what they do probably doesn't help smile all the childen seem to be taught the same thing, and all be doing the same thing eg a spooky story but they are doing at their level and then the challenges seem to help the teachers see who is needing support. Like they all do the same maths sheet but my son is trying to do it quicker and someone else is trying to get more right.

lljkk Sun 19-Mar-17 19:18:13

(hunh) the way differentiation is described here is what I thought setting was. Not that I ever need to know the difference.

(Teen DS got all excited thinking this thread was about calculus)

FastForward2 Sun 19-Mar-17 19:30:24

My son achieved excellent results (for him) after being in a very low set for English. Daughter was in top set but then school went to mixed ability groups and she spent the year looking after the less able pupils on her table as the teacher had no control. Her marks have plumetted. In both cases I think it is the skill of the teacher which is more important than the mixture, but I cant help thinking it must be easier for a less able teacher to teach if the children are all of similar ability?

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 19:44:11

It is important to recognise that a measure of current attainment, such as a test, is not the same as a measure of future potential

WipsGlitter Sun 19-Mar-17 19:47:54

I don't really get the difference either.

There are children at different levels and they are set different work according to ability. So it's a bit like setting? No? What am I missing?

MaisyPops Sun 19-Mar-17 19:49:02

In both cases I think it is the skill of the teacher which is more important than the mixture
As a secondary teacher I'd say this. I teach everything from top set GCSE through to a nurture group. Also taught mixed ability. A decent teacher should be able to do any well as long as those in charge of class lists make sure the groups are decent.( E.g. ive seen colleagues screwed over in sets and mixed ability because known cliques and groups of unsettled students were all put in one class and given to inexperienced teachers.)

The success of either approach is leaders getting the groups right and allocatinh classes to the right staff.

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 19:49:41

"Pupils with similar levels of current attainment are grouped together either for specific lessons on a regular basis (setting), or as a whole class (streaming). The assumption is that it will be possible to teach more effectively or more efficiently with a narrower range of attainment in a class. 

Arkadia Sun 19-Mar-17 19:58:17

I am glad that I am not the only one confused... :D

Slightly OT, I am a bit confused by the "mastery" thing as well. Not that understand it that well, but... from what I read we are talking extending children within their year's curriculum so that they master it better and in a wider sense.
That is perfectly OK (at least when possible... I find it a bit of struggle in early years), HOWEVER, the end result is identical, i.e. different pupils will have vastly different workloads.

In addition, if I understand this correctly, "Mastery" in not a goal for all students, but only for the selected few who can actually do it. I mean, if to achieve that first of all you need tone able to zip through the curriculum, it follows that students that move at a more normale pace will not have the time to "master" that particular topic as they will be busy going through the curriculum.

ImaginaryCat Sun 19-Mar-17 20:03:54

There was a big piece of research conducted in a Banbury school about 30 years ago, lasting several years and with a control group. The results demonstrated that both high and low ability children benefited from mixed ability groupings and the middle group performed the same in both streamed and mixed ability. It's counter intuitive, people assume setting and streaming will produce better results but the evidence is to the contrary.

irvineoneohone Sun 19-Mar-17 20:44:35

Arkadia, these are mastery assessment for maths. I don't think it's only available for selected few, it's for everybody. Though those are still challenging enough for some children imo.

www.ncetm.org.uk/resources/46689

irvineoneohone Sun 19-Mar-17 20:45:18

*Not challenging enough

mrz Sun 19-Mar-17 20:46:36

If your child's in P3 OP they won't be following a mastery curriculum but the curriculum for excellence

Arkadia Sun 19-Mar-17 20:56:09

Oh, i see. I hadn't realised it is a different curriculum. Given that we will follow the CfE until they change it, where does it leave us?

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