how best to approach school re lack of setting?(11 Posts)
ds's school only sets for maths until GCSE.
dd will be joining the school in a year's time and although I am broadly happy with the school, I am concerned about the lack of English setting which - in not just my opinion but that of ds and his peers too - has not been helpful to more able pupils. It's not just about exam results (which are good across the board) but about the opportunity to study more challenging texts and participate in deeper discussions.
Is there any point in my writing to the head of English? Would this impact negatively on ds? Do I just have to suck it up and do "shadow education" at home?
Why not write to the parent governors and ask to remain anonymous but for the question to be raised with the governors maybe at the relevant subcomittee?
am I able to do that? I didn't think parent governors were supposed to represent interests, rather that they are representative of the parents.
In my dd's school it is up to each department head. To my dd's intense frustration, they don't set in maths (but do in several other subjects). I raise it regularly with the HoD. His response is that it is the best way to work with all pupils, so then I ask him why she is being given homework that her Yr5 sister can do just by looking at it, without having been in the lesson and without needing to pick up a pencil and work anything out. He always claims every teacher can differentiate. I always argue back that it's a nonsense to expect a teacher to teach well across 7 or more Nat Curr levels in one class, when they could narrow that down to one or two levels and differentiate far more individually within that smaller range. Since she's been there, in 2 years, she has now at least been moved into (first his, then another good teacher's) groups where at least she is set challenging problems. This doesn't resolve it for all the other pupils who don't complain to their parents, or whose parents don't speak to the school or course, but at least it has helped her.
I also go to Snr Mngmnt Team and the HT, and ask them why my dd is not being challenged in maths, and has to sit through lesson after lesson of stuff she did in Junior school. I hope it is just chipping away,
as I know dd2 won't complain if she's allowed to just sit back and kick her heels. Obviously the more parents that question it, the more effect it will have on the decisions.
It doesn't hurt to ask. I don't think it would be representing your interest as you say its something discussed by the DC and others.
Its something that could have group impact not on just your DS.
If the results are good, though, there must be some in depth discussion going on. Mixed ability teaching in English is effective and probably easier to do than in many other subjects - a lot is by outcome, and discussion can be affected by picking the groups within the class carefully.
We set very loosely in Maths at my school and it works very well. If a group of boys are becoming too challenging together then we can just split them up. Many students will have two or three teachers in a single school year and accept that change can be good. We've had record GCSE results four years in a row since introducing this.
The quality of the work set is another matter altogether and you are well within your rights to question that.
DD's school didn't set for English until GCSE. The HT explained it by saying that girls are usually more linguistically mature than boys in KS3 so he would end up with 99% of the top set being girls and 99% of the bottom set being boys. This would send out the wrong message to boys and put them off English.
He was a rubbish HT, though. And his method didn't produce good grades/VA.
It is the school's decision at the end of the day. There are good arguments in both cases, though the school I teach at does set for core subjects. It gives more flexibility, for instance in choosing set texts for the class.
It will not reflect badly on your DS if you make your views felt; a good school will be always evaluating and looking for the best way forward.
My DSs' school only sets for maths too, and, tbh, we've never had a problem with it. I think it's good for them to be mixed together, and to help and support each other.
If you want the matter raised by the governors, you write to the chair of governors asking that the matter be raised at the appropriate committee.
Governors don't normally deal with matters concerning individual DCs, but the general policy of not setting ought to concern them.
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