Class setting and movement between sets(21 Posts)
Can I ask you for some insight please?
Where you have streaming for classes, how is it done? I understand that initially setting is done on CAT and SAT results but do opportunities for movement between sets exist?
In my DC’s school there is only one top set and the others are all mixed ability. AFAIK, all sets are given a test every half term but the top set also take an extension paper at the end of the year. I think although am not sure that the pupils in the mixed ability classes are given this extension paper (on things they have not studied) if they get an unspecified required amount on the basic test. I think this means they might move up if they do well enough in the extension test.
What do your schools do?
What happens if there are more able pupils than you can accommodate in the top set?
Sets are fluid in my DS's comp. Kids move up and down all the time. From yr7, all the more traditional academic subjects are in ability sets, but things like PE, drama, music, etc are mixed ability. Your school sounds very rigid in comparison.
At DCs old school, sets were juggled every half term based on results.
Roughly 4 kids at the top and bottom of each set moved up or down every half term for three years
One kid in DDs year was in set 5 after his SATS (for a particular subject) and ended up at the bottom of Set 1 by mid year 9
That is why I love comps with setting and hate fixed streaming or selective schools
Kids only seem to move at the end of each year, based on module tests, and end of year exams strictly to some formula that gives each child weighted percentage based on the above.
Children can’t move after end year 10 especially for maths as the top set do an extra exam in maths but can’t remember what it’s called
I think there's about 5 sets. It's based on cats and sats i think in year 7. Initially it's English, maths and french (dependent on the Eng) then in year 8 it's science and Spanish too. At the end of each year there is movement based on exam results.
Grammar school. Kids started in mixed ability tutor groups for maths, split into two sets after half term based on CATs and a end of term maths test. Will be split into three sets in Year 8 based on mid year and end of year exam results. They are in mixed ability classes for all other subjects in Year 7.
But Grammar school sets are just increments of the 5% or 25%
All sets will be doing 8 or more GCSEs
In Comps the sets are between kids doing Btec or single English right through to triple science double maths
its really important to understand whether changing sets makes a difference to which exams are taken (higher and lower papers for example)
In theory they are the top 5% or 25% or whatever. But there is a huge range of ability at ds school. Some kids were tutored within an inch of their lives for VR for 11+ but really struggle with maths for example.
In my daughters grammar there are kids getting 11% in maths tests and deemed to be on target. Horrible for the kids but they aren’t all higher ability children on entry according to data. So the difference is much higher than you might think They are all sitting 10 GCSEs apparently though. Or at least they have started the course with 10, whether they end up taking 10 is another matter.
Year 7 are set after Christmas based on SATs, CATs and our own baseline assessments. There are 2 top sets, 4 middle sets and 2 bottom sets. There is fluidity between sets. After Christmas and Easter are typical times for set moves but they can happen in between times. It is very competitive to stay in the top set. As soon as pupils slip to the lower end of the ranking they receive letters to warn them they may be moved down. The top sets are also the largest class sizes - 33-35 pupils. Middle sets average about 28 and the bottom sets are small - 15-20 pupils. I don't really agree with it to be honest; pupils and parents are far more obsessed with sets than anything else and the bottom sets often feel dejected and demotivated. There is a lot to be said for mixed ability classes in my opinion.
Thank you for the replies it is very interesting.
I don't really understand how my DC's school operates. It is an academy and only has one set for this subject-The top set.
I guess this is due to funding issues.
The children in this set had a mixture of A and B grades (the results from last year were read out to all the children- that's how we know(!) It is the largest class and full.
My DC was a grade A when the results were read out but has been put in to one of the mixed ability classes where the work is:-
"slow and boring, so I do it then daydream' til the end of the lesson".
Apparently the work is far easier than the year before but I'm told that DC was still in a mixed ability class last year and that all the mixed ability classes are equal.
So just before Christmas, they reviewed DC's work and informed us that movement might happen depending on performance in a test.
It turned out to be 3 tests and we haven't been given any results. If I ask what is going on they just set another test!
Interesting that what set you are in depends on what exam you take. This subject is something DC wanted to study at a high level so maybe that won't be possible?!
As long as he gets an ok grade at gcse then of course he will be able to study it at A Level.
DD’s school have a top sets in core subjects but tbh it’s such a small school with such a diverse intake that it’s more like mixed sets anyway because the range of ability is greater. At her school there is movement between sets usually after a test or series of tests
If there are more able pupils than places in top set, then those with lower results may move into the set below and others may move up if they have higher test results
As long as he gets an ok grade at gcse then of course he will be able to study it at A Level.
But if you are in a set that takes the Foundation paper, its impossible to get a top grade
Yes talking but If he’s getting grade As in tests then I presume the OP’s ds has a good chance of doing the higher paper
I have been told that at the end of each year, they take a test. If they score highly enough on that one test they are given another, harder test. If they then do well on that test they move into/stay in the top set.
This movement doesn't take any other tests or performance through the year in to account despite testing them every half term. Apparently my DC performed well all year with excellent reports from the teacher and scored A's in every test apart from this one at the end of last year. So, if you have a bad day on the day of the test you will not be given the opportunity to take the harder paper and prove yourself...
I suspect that they are only planning on offering the higher paper to this top set as the school's so called mixed ability classes are for people with "B grades and below".
Can you get A grade equivalent GCSE's on the lower paper? Dc wants to study medicine so will need good grades at GCSE!
What year are they in? They might do well in the final exam this year and move up? You could ask if he is studying the same topics as the top group?
Thank you CatMuffin yes that's true, I will stop worrying until nearer the GCSE's! (DC is only in yr 8 at the moment).
I will ask if they are studying the same topics.
I moved up in maths to the top set at the start of 4th year (year 10 now I think). It probably cost me my a*, but I gained an AO level as we took the gcse a year early. There was a lot of catching up to do, which was not quite manageable in the time. I wish I'd been firmer at the end of 1st year when I got the grade for top set but the teacher (also my form teacher) talked dm into keeping me in set 2. I still reckon I'd have done better if I'd been put in the top set then.
That's interesting knottybeams. It's such a shame that your teacher persuaded your mum to keep you down!
Perhaps it is best to keep an eye on the situation & see what happens at the end of the year then. If the topics they study are the same hopefully he won't be too far behind.
He used to enjoy the subject so much. I just don't want him to become demoralised.
Definitely ask re syllabus differences but more importantly if he’s likely to take the foundation level gcse or the higher level as he’ll need fantastic results for medicine at the higher level (7,8,9 or A/A* ) - top grade at foundation level is a C (4/5 I think)
Thank you Kimlek. Yes I will ask about the syllabus.
Its quite surprising that some DC will be held back like this and not have the opportunity to take the higher papers just because they are in different groups!
I wonder how real mixed ability classes operate if they have to teach two different syllabi in each lesson? It must be really difficult for the teachers to do!
The basic syllabus will be the same but I wonder if the young people taking foundation level cover calculus for example (which is now a gcse topic). I only found out recently that there are two levels. I thought the move from O levels and CSE’s in the 90’s to GCSE’s was to get rid of the 2 tiers - obviously not.
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