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Teachers. Come and talk to me about streaming, please.

(32 Posts)
Bubble99 Thu 10-Jul-08 20:15:19

We've been looking at secondary schools for DS1.

Classes in our local schools are only streamed (is that still the correct term?) for maths and science and I wonder why this is.

Can a teacher really teach a mixed ability English class? Does it work? I'm wondering how, in a school where a high percentage of children have ESL, this can possibly work.

Any thoughts/experience would be appreciated.

AMumInScotland Thu 10-Jul-08 20:46:01

They tend to use the term "setting" rather than "streaming" when it's for specific subjects.

Are you sure they mean they are never put into ability sets for other subjects? It might just be that they will start off their first year there in mixed classes for most things, and in sets for maths and science, but that setting will start up for the other subjects later on.

In my high school, we were in mixed ability classes for everything at the start, put into sets for maths after the October break I think, and setted for a few subjects from the second year onwards. Then from S3 (Year 10 equivalent) we were in ability groups depending on what exams we would be going towards.

The children will all have been in a mixed ability class up till now, so maybe they don't want to rush into the setting?

FluffyMummy123 Thu 10-Jul-08 20:46:44

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Blandmum Thu 10-Jul-08 20:50:54

Streaming is when you go, 'Bright kid, top set for everythting'

setting is when you go, 'Kid is good at maths, top set, not so hot at science, bottom set' or whatever.

I've never taight mixed ability, and inless you have quite small groups, with TA help it is, as cod sez a real PITA.

Popular with educational theorists that havemn't been in a classroom since the days of Adam

We set after the first half term in year 7 when we get our own test data in

FluffyMummy123 Thu 10-Jul-08 20:52:31

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Blandmum Thu 10-Jul-08 21:00:11

Mixed ability often = critical mass of norty boys and girls competing to be the nortiest in the class with enough middling kids who are easily swayed by the diverting fracas to egg them along

someone will pop up soon and tell me that if my lesson plans were good enough this wouldn't be a problem


FluffyMummy123 Thu 10-Jul-08 21:01:08

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Blandmum Thu 10-Jul-08 21:02:30

and they don't like looking as if they can't do the work in fron of their peers, so to save face they arse about

cat64 Thu 10-Jul-08 21:03:19

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StellaDallas Thu 10-Jul-08 21:04:18

In our local school they set for Maths, Science and modern languages but NOT for English. Many parents have complained about this over the years but the head says it is the head of dept's choice and as long as the results are good, he is happy to let her have her way.
The results are not that good, and a lot of pupils are bored and frustrated. I should think it would be a nightmare to teach a mixed ability class right up to GCSE and diffrentiate enough for the range you are going to get. But she will not be moved.

Bubble99 Thu 10-Jul-08 21:09:22

I can't see the logic at all.

Kid struggling to keep up feels embarrassed = switches off = bored.

Kid who got it in 5 minutes feels frustrated = switches off = bored.

AMumInScotland Thu 10-Jul-08 21:11:01

It does sound totally daft to do that right through the school - how can that possibly be the best thing for any of the children?

Bubble99 Thu 10-Jul-08 21:14:34

DS2 would struggle and DS1 would be frustrated.

DS1 (10) was, until mother kicked up a huuuuge fuss, recently paired with a 'less able' child "as he was so good at helping her."

He was bored senseless and didn't want to go to school.

......Unless they were prepared to pay him his (due) LSA salary. wink

Piffle Thu 10-Jul-08 21:15:47

ds1 reports that maths has been the only streamed subject thus far at his boys grammar, from next yr(10) English will be streamed with one top ability set and 4 mixed classes this is for 120 students.
Ds approves of streaming but he is top set for everything... Can see how it changes for those not in top streams though...

AMumInScotland Thu 10-Jul-08 21:27:43

But even for those in lower streams, it must be better to have the teacher going at the right speed, surely? I suppose there must be one or two in a mixed ability class who are going through the material at the right rate, but even they'll be suffering from the disruption of the bored & frustrated ones.

cat64 Thu 10-Jul-08 22:03:32

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christywhisty Thu 10-Jul-08 22:25:53

Ds's school will have their YR 7 that start next September doing their CATs tomorrow so are set for maths, english and then all other subjects from the moment they start in September.
A friend is a TA in another school which don't set for 2 years. She said the classes are chaotic and it just doesn't work.

squirrel42 Thu 10-Jul-08 23:34:58

At my secondary school (not that long ago in the grand scheme of things) we had sets for maths and science but not for anything else. Being mixed for English (taught in your tutorial group) was bloody awful! I've always been a bookworm and found writing pretty easy, and we did have people who struggled to read at all. Some had SN, some just weren't that academic. Right up until GCSE we used to read books and plays out loud, taking turns at a page or so each. It took forever to get through even a short book...

scaryteacher Fri 11-Jul-08 09:57:13

I taught in Cornwall, in Humanities (unimportant - thanks Cod!) and all the classes I taught for RE, Geography and History were mixed ability. We only setted once in year 9 for RE, which I loved, but all the other teachers were opposed to for political reasons.

I went to Comp from 1977-1982 and we were streamed and setted from what was then the first year. You could move between streams, and up and down the sets, I went up to top set French, and down to set 2 in maths. It meant you worked to your ability, and there was the possibility of moving up which was an incentive.

chopchopbusybusy Fri 11-Jul-08 10:14:16

DD1s school has sets for every subject(including PE). We did visit another school which was just about to change their policy and teach English in mixed ability groups. It wasn't the only reason we didn't choose it, but it was certainly one of them.

snorkle Fri 11-Jul-08 10:58:01

At a grammar school Piffle the children are effectively streamed just by passing the 11+ and being there. That's why a lot of them don't bother with further streaming/setting.
I think real mixed ability classes must be fustrating for many of the children as well as the teacher - unless the teaching is truely inspirational.

Piffle Fri 11-Jul-08 11:41:13

snorkle you'd hope that would be the case. But the only test at 11+ was non verbal reasoning... Easy to coach for as it transpires. As there are to be honest plenty of bright kids, a few genius types, some average and far too many who are falling behind badly.
so streaming in his school is important. Ds1 really looking forward to English being streamed though.
ours is not a hugely grammary grabbing area as the mixed high school is also v good results wise so many parents send their kids there even if they pass the 11+

seeker Fri 11-Jul-08 11:58:18

At my dd's grammar school they set for Maths and English in year 8, but not for anything else. BUT it is a grammar school, so the whole class teaching is mixed ability in the loosest possible meaning of the term!

There are 6 maths sets and I think 4 English sets in year 8.

snorkle Fri 11-Jul-08 12:49:17

It's streaming in its truest sense Piffle - test kids for ability in one thing (non verb reasoning in this case) and then stream them for every subject on the basis of that.

Not surprising it doesn't work too well really. I wonder if in areas where 11+ covers a wider subject range they get a better approximation of the top ability range? I know my friends ds's grammar doesn't set at all as they reckon they don't need to and they had more than just NVR papers for 11+ there, but they also do have some kids who my friends wonder how they passed the test.

The reliability of the 11+ to discriminate the ablest kids accurately is my fundamental objection to selective systems. At least when streaming happens within a school it's easier to move between streams (but not always as easy as you might think if for example the top stream do different subjects - eg Latin.)

CarGirl Fri 11-Jul-08 12:58:38

we were set for maths from year 7 and then not until year 10 where we set in Maths and by which type of science you were taking (which were then individually set) and then working around that set in English and humanities. Unfortunately it meant that English & humanities were much more loosely set than maths & science.

Best of all was that the school didn't realise that those capable of getting solid A&B's in all 3 sciences would not choose to take the option to do so grin it rather screwed up their plans!

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