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Mixed ability classes. Is this the norm in all non-selective state secondarary schools?

(14 Posts)
Bubble99 Wed 01-Aug-07 21:17:48

And if so, is this a government directive or can head teachers decide how children are grouped for teaching different subjects?

Anonymama Wed 01-Aug-07 21:20:48

No this is not the norm. In the schools I have worked in (all non-selective state), students in the more "academic" or "core" subjects are usually set according to ability. Exceptions to this have been subjects like Art, Drama, Technology, etc. which are arguably more practical and may be easier to accommodate a range of different activities, outcomes etc simultaneously. Having said that, the rationale for not setting such classes has sometimes been because these classes (particularly in years 7-9) are timetabled according to tutor group.


rantinghousewife Wed 01-Aug-07 21:21:14

We don't have mixed ability classes in state schools here, although our schooling system is different to most of the rest of the country's. They have lower school until 9, then middle, when they're seperated by ability in core subjects until 13 and then upper, where they are also put into sets, according to ability.

Whizzz Wed 01-Aug-07 21:21:16

Not sure - we have setting in Maths in year 7 but in other subjects (Eng, MFL, Sci etc) in Yr 8 onwards.

rantinghousewife Wed 01-Aug-07 21:25:36

Forgot to mention we're non selective here too.

Bubble99 Wed 01-Aug-07 21:28:34

Thanks for the replies.

I'm at the 'looking around' stage for DS1.

portonovo Thu 02-Aug-07 11:54:40

No, it's not the norm. All secondary schools in our town set for some or most subjects. My children are set for English, Maths, science, modern languages and humanities. All setting is right from Year 7 - usually maths sets are decided about October or November, with the other sets following over the next few months.

meandmyflyingmachine Thu 02-Aug-07 12:05:33

In the schools in which I have taught, we have had mixed ability form groups. Maths was usually set at some point in year 7. English in year 7 or 8. Science (my subject) usually in year 9, but I have also taught very broadly set year 8 groups. MFL in year 8 or 9. Non-core subjects tended to be taught in mixed ability form groups.

In my last school, English was taught in mixed ability classes all the way through, even at GCSE. So it can't be a government directive.

nappyaddict Thu 02-Aug-07 12:48:16

at my school we were set for maths in year 7 but not in english or science til year 8.

roisin Thu 02-Aug-07 17:21:45

It's up to the HT/HoDs.

The problems with all mixed ability teaching is it is very hard to adequately target and challenge the bottom 10% and the top 10% in a lesson. Also for some linear subjects - particularly Maths - it is virtually impossible to teach complete mixed ability.

Advantages of mixed ability teaching is the idea that brighter children can be an example to the others - this works particularly well in subjects like Art I understand.

But the primary motivation for many schools is behaviour. In most non-selective secondaries you will find with subjects which are "pure setting" set 7 of 8 is very challenging behaviourally, especially in yrs8 and 9.

Lilymaid Fri 03-Aug-07 11:51:21

My only experience is DS2's school (in England), but there all the children were set for ability in Maths and English after the first half term of Y7 (they don't rely on KS2 SATS results) and other subjects such as languages, sciences and humanities were set later on in school career. Lots of moving about between sets though. School also did the "boy/girl/boy/girl" seating arrangement in class, though I believe some schools now separate boys and girls for some subjects because of the differences in the ways they learn.

wheresthehamster Fri 03-Aug-07 12:04:34

DD2's school set for academic subjects but have a form of streaming for Humanities in yr 8. So dd2 who lives and breathes History is in one of the bottom sets for this as her RE and Geography are not at the same level. I have been pleased with the school up to now but this has irked me a bit and I don't know whether to follow it up or not. I imagine there isn't a lot of changing up and down in these sort of subjects.

twinsetandpearls Tue 21-Aug-07 00:46:22

I don' think it is the norm, as a head of year seven it was my decision how my students would be grouped for the non core subjects and mine are in ability groups.

Some school have mixed abilty for humanities and the arts subjects in year seven.

fortyplus Tue 21-Aug-07 01:20:08

My sons' school sets from yr 7 for Maths, MFL (French) and English. Another secondary school in the same LEA sets for all subjects. So presumably it must be up to the Head or the Governors.

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