Will they be set on ability for their GCSE option choices?

(21 Posts)
ifonly4 Thu 03-Sep-15 10:24:42

DD is going into Year 10 and starts her GCSE option choices. As the question asks, will they be set according to ability when they've had chance to assess them? They go to a large school so there'll be more than one class for each subject. They were set in Years 7-9.

There don't appear to be sets anymore and DD (and others) are worried they've got a lot that struggle or mess about in their classes now.

I think DD is more likely to get Bs and a few As but she's going in with the attitude she wants some A*s. I'm really proud of her going back with this attitude but don't want her being held back by those that mess about (those than struggle in all fairness can't help it).

catslife Thu 03-Sep-15 10:47:08

There will be sets in Y10 but probably a slightly different system to that used in Y7-9. My dd is starting Y11 and for subjects that are studied by all pupils such as English and Maths there is full setting by ability based on Y9 exam results and this has worked similarly to previous years.
For Science they are set according to ability but with different groups for those taking Triple and Double Science.
For option subjects, the groups may be arranged on a mixture of ability and option block the subject was in. So for Geography/MFL you may have 2 sets (higher and lower) for Block A and only one set for block B etc.
Hope this makes sense.

titchy Thu 03-Sep-15 11:05:30

Will depend on subject. maths and English will probably be set, but if there is only one class doing say GCSE Graphics, then clearly it can't be set.

TeenAndTween Thu 03-Sep-15 12:02:18

I think it may depend on the school and on the timetabling.

e.g. At DD's school you pick one option from each of 4 blocks.
So if say you pick French from Block A you will be in a class with others who picked it from Block A, but not with anyone who picked it from Block C.

If there is more than one class for any option within the same block, then they set it.

Given you school sets in 7-9 I would be surprised if they don't in 10&11, but I think you or they will just have to ask.

redskybynight Thu 03-Sep-15 12:06:37

Surely this entirely depends on the school (so you should ask yours)? At DS's school the answer would be "no" (apart from maths).

ifonly4 Thu 03-Sep-15 14:18:02

Thanks for your replies. English, Maths & Science are certainly still set for ability. Hopefully DD will get clarification on this in the next few days, but we'll certainly be asking for clarification especially if DD experiences problems. We know one of the children now in her sets has been excluded previously for disruption in class and a lot of parents complained. Hopefully this child has learnt from his mistakes but DD thinks that's unlikely!

holmessweetholmes Thu 03-Sep-15 14:29:29

Nobody can answer this question apart from your school. Schools have their own policies on whether or when setting is used.

clary Thu 03-Sep-15 14:38:54

Do you know for sure there will be more than one class for each subject?

My DC go to a school with 1200 students (not sure if this is what you mean by large!) but only 19 (!) have opted for French in her year so that will be her class, messers-about and all.

Where I teach we have 60 doing French in year 10 (!) and we have opted to have a top set and then two parallel sets as it works better this year. Another year we might have gone for sets 1,2,3. But then a couple of years ago we only had about 20 so again, one group.

This is clearly more of an issue in niche subjects (not that I consider MFL niche!!) - history, geography etc will probably have 2-3 groups. But even then timetabling may make setting ipossible (If all the groups are not blocked together)

Yes you need to ask the school

AndNowItsSeven Thu 03-Sep-15 14:41:47

I am glad the school stood their ground re the previously excluded pupil. How selfish of the other parents wanting to deprive a child of a second chance.

ifonly4 Thu 03-Sep-15 14:54:09

Thanks for your reply, Clary. Yes, we've managed to work out there is more than one class for every subject my DD is taking, as there are friends and other girls she knows taking the same options and not in her group (they can check on the school's website whose in their class).

It must be hard for the teachers if they've got higher and lower achievers all in the same set. They're going to have some that totally understand and others that don't get the basics and the teacher can't allocate too much time to helping them as they need to ensure the top achievers are teaching their potential as well.

I've told DD if she has any choice where she sits to choose someone who generally does their work and keeps their head down.

Stickerrocks Thu 03-Sep-15 15:08:26

Our school seems to have removed sets for all the option papers, going for mixed ability groups. Apparently it helps the brighter kids as they have to explain things to others which helps develop their understanding & it encourages the rest to exceed expectations & show what they're really capable of without limitations. Hmmm. Not convinced.

Sadik Thu 03-Sep-15 15:11:35

shock at only 19 doing french in one year. Are there other more popular MFLs? DD's in a year of 80 and planning on taking French - I hope she'll have more classmates than that . . .

Sadik Thu 03-Sep-15 15:12:54

I guess in smaller schools pretty much all GCSEs other than English/Maths/Science are inevitably going to be mixed ability, so teachers must be used to it.

Sadik Thu 03-Sep-15 15:14:18

I also suspect it won't be that terrible. DD's not set for any humanities as she's in the welsh medium group and there's only one class-worth of them, it seems just fine. In fact the only subject she complains about speed of work is maths, which is set.

clary Thu 03-Sep-15 17:02:22

sadik I am with you with the shock face. I was aghast actually, this is a school in a MC area where students achieve well. They do one out of French, German, Spanish in KS3 so it's 19 out of about 90 students chose French. Really I think that all of her (top) set in yr 9 should've done French. (I would say that tho as I teach MFL)

Not sure how many chose German and Spanish.

But I am amazed that the school I work at, a much more mixed catchment, has 3 times the number opting for French (out of 120, but still...) Hope your DD has a bigger class smile

clary Thu 03-Sep-15 17:03:43

Sorry ifonly4 I meant to say that's good advice for your DD. If you want to get on in a subject then you will and you can. If she feels she is falling behind due to silliness from others, get her to ask for extra work or do tasks from a revision guide etc.

Stickerrocks Thu 03-Sep-15 18:56:06

250 in a year group. It looks as though they have 14 in one Spanish class & 15 in another. They had to take at least 1 from French, Spanish, geography, history or computing with no opportunity to take a second language of any description.

Bunbaker Thu 03-Sep-15 19:04:17

At DD's school they set for the core subjects - English, maths and science, but they don't for the options because often there are only enough students to make up one class in each half of the school (the school is a large one and is split in half for timetabling).

pointythings Thu 03-Sep-15 19:25:19

At DD1's school, English, Maths and Science are set, as are MFL. Humanities are not. It doesn't seem to matter, the teachers are very well able to differentiate within the class.

PenelopePitstops Thu 03-Sep-15 19:35:30

Research says that setting (particularly in written subjects) makes little difference to outcomes of students when compared to mixed ability. The higher achievers tend to be a bit lower, (a few marks, not grades) but the low achievers do better. Who's education is more important?!

Key to it all is damn hard work and resilience.

ifonly4 Mon 07-Sep-15 10:19:25

Thanks for your replies. DD has found out they'll be set for languages as they assessing who in the original top sets is capable of fast track.

So far DD has managed to sit next to someone she thinks will be okay, ie she can relax with but get on with her work. Art teacher went through syllabus on first day and one girl said, if you think I'm going to do all that you're joking out loud. They're a small group and teacher has told them she'll be able to give them all individual time, but doubt she'll want to spend too much time with this girl if her attitude doesn't improve!

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