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Let's talk about sets...Y8 parents or teachers

(18 Posts)
Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 09:13:17

If your ds or dd was given at level 6a English (target 7 for end of y9) on end of y7 report, would you expect them to be in the top set for y8? Ds has just brought a letter home which appears to say he is is second set (there are 5 sets for each half of the year group).

At parents evening they said he was 'very able' and he has got top levels for behaviour, effort etc. His CATS scores were in 'top few percent' for the country (he was told that at a parents meeting). Ds thought he was in the top set as he is with the other dcs who were similar ability to him all year, but now we are not sure. The letter is very complicated as they have a different system of labelling for each subject.

I want to discuss it with school after the weekend but don't want to seem pushy. It's just that there is a mismatch between the feedback from the school and the set he seems to be in. If they have a class full of dcs with level 7 in the top set I suppose that's fair enough, but it seems statistically unlikely. I would not have a problem with him being in second set if the levels were not as high or if his attitude was poor.

He is at a non-selective comp.

Any advice, comments or slating welcome.

Coops79 Sat 29-Sep-12 09:17:51

I would guess that the school has a system that either doesn't formally set or has a couple of top sets which allows some maneuverability for social reasons. Therefore it may well be that "set 2" isn't the second set IFSWIM? It's also possible that there are lots of kids around that level and actually he's not in the top 30 or that despite the target, he's not necessarily on track to achieve it.

What I'm saying is, there's no harm in asking for clarifications but teachers/departments set very carefully and do so on the basis of a myriad of information (not all of which you will be privy to). If you trust the school generally, let them get on with it.

Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 09:23:37

Thanks for answering, coops.

I do trust the school, have never needed to query anything before with dd who is at GCSE stage. He only has to gain one sub level in two years to gain that target, and 7 is the ceiling for Y9. They usually progress by two sublevels per year at least.

Maybe I'll just leave things be.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Sat 29-Sep-12 09:26:34

In my DD's school, in Y8, each half of the year had two top sets, two middle sets, a bottom set and the nurture group. Could it be a similar set up?

I would think in a year group with around 240-ish, it wouldn't be unheard of for rather a lot of them to be lvl6/lvl7 at the end of Y7.

bigTillyMint Sat 29-Sep-12 09:27:36

Surely it depends on how able the whole cohort is / whether they do what Coops suggests.

Or they may have cocked upgrin

Nothing wrong with checking if you are concerned.

Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 09:37:24

Couthy, that is the arrangement for maths and science, but for English it just says 'sets 1-5, 1 being the highest.' It may just be a confusing letter. Do up to a fifth of students get 6a/7s at end of year 7? Part of the trouble is that I don't discuss grades with anyone in RL as it seems arsey if your dcs are doing well.

or it's a simple cock up, as BigTilly suggests...


Think I will just send a little note in to his form teacher asking them to check to be on the safe side.

jicky Sat 29-Sep-12 09:46:11

Also it depends what their expectations are for the sets.

Ds is in set 2 for maths, but based on previous year, that still means they are expected to get a* in GCSE a year early, so it's hardly a problem.

If the second set generally get a or a* does it matter what the set is called?

Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 09:50:54


That's exactly what dh said, and he's the one with the common sense!

BeingFluffy Sat 29-Sep-12 09:54:35

Asinine, speak to the school to clarify. My y9 daugther came home on the first day of term saying she had been "moved down" from the top set in maths and science. I immediately called the school (because they are supposed to inform us) and was told it was a timetabling error. If I hadn't said anything she might still be in the wrong group - she was on the registers for the wrong groups and no one would have noticed!

Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 10:10:32

Thanks for taking time to answer Fluffy (and everyone). It does help to hear lots of views.

FWIW, I've just dug out DDs y7 report, she had a lower target at 6 and had a 6c at the same stage. She was in the top set.

I suppose we presumed (wrongly) that he'd be in set 1 as he was always years ahead in reading in primary and at parents evening they were so positive.

Maybe it is the cohort this year which is different. confused

notnowImreading Sat 29-Sep-12 10:45:02

I would query this. I'm head of Eng at my school and I would have placed a child with the levels you describe in top set. If he's not in that group there may be a reason and I would want to know it.

It could be that they have changed their setting policy since the letter went out and he may be in a joint top set, as others have said, or he may be in a mixed group (we teach mixed ability in yr 8 at my school). However, he might not be in the top set because of an issue with application or a slow-down in his progress, which I'm sure you ought to be told about if it is the case. Finally, there may have been an error in generating either the original set lists or the registers.

Whatever the reason, if he ought to be in a top set, phone the head of English. She/he will be able to help or at least to explain. If there's to be a set move, it needs to happen now rather than later, when it would be more disruptive.

Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 11:39:02

Thank you notnow, I will find out what's going on and report back!

MammaBrussels Sat 29-Sep-12 11:48:03

It might be that they have to split the year for the timetable so some can have English while others have Science or maths. Is he in top set for all the other subjects? It might be that he's especially gifted in English but can't be accommodated in the corresponding Science group.
Speak to the head of English - they're the ones who sorted out the sets and can tell you whether he's in the correct group.

Asinine Sat 29-Sep-12 12:02:04

He is top set for maths 6a at end of y7(y9 target 8) and science 6b (y9 target 7). Those are the only ones which are set.

HauntedLittleLunatic Sat 29-Sep-12 12:21:49

It all depends on the cohort.

If they are a very able cohort then there may be 30 kids better than him pushing him into the second set. The cohort may have been weaker for your dd so she got into higher sets with the same or lower working levels.

It may also depend on whether your school are setting the kids or banding the kids. If they are setting then his English set should be independent of other subjects. If they are banded then he may have been pushed down because of his working levels in other subjects.

Kez100 Sun 30-Sep-12 04:01:57

Ask, but not in an arsy way.

I've only had one go through school fully and had all The above explanations happen! a set change for Maths which was in error (they'd done it from one test result rather than her true overall working level), once due to there being two sets for the same ability, and once because she had to be in a certain English set because the timetable was back to back with Science and it depended on her Science level! So, there may be a good explanation or an error, so it's important to ask, but in a non arsy way.

ibizagirl Sun 30-Sep-12 07:34:38

Dd is now in year 9 but when in year 7 and 8 the children were all at least level 6A to be in set 1 in English as long as they were the same levels in maths and science. One friend got moved down in year 8 because she was 6A for English but 6C for maths and science so she got put into set 2. There are still sets in year 9 but also gcse lessons now and these are "setted" by what English levels the children are on. OP if you think it is wrong then ask. I know i would and have done so before with wrong information on dd's report. Best wishes.

Asinine Wed 03-Oct-12 13:57:51


Turns out he underperformed in the exam, compared to the grades he had been getting all year. They said the top of the second set are overlapping with bottom of top set in terms of ability. They will watch how he does this year and reconsider next year.

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