Ensuring students are placed in appropriately academically challenging and supportive groups is crucial to enabling students to excel.
The policy below outlines our approach to ability groupings and gives information regarding how groups are constructed, arranged and when movement between groups can occur.
- To ensure students receive the best possible learning opportunities in an environment where they are inspired to excel.
- To ensure teaching and support staff are able to plan the best possible learning experiences for all students taking good account of their ability and prior attainment.
Tutor groups at Brimsham Green are structured vertically, that is to say that they are made up of Year 7 through to Year 11 students. They are constructed carefully in consultation with many stakeholders to ensure that they are balanced in terms of many contextual factors, including: gender, prior attainment and Special Educational Needs. There are eight Tutor Groups per House.
At Sixth Form, Tutor Groups are also structured vertically, made up from Year 12 and Year 13.
This vertical structure builds positive relationships between Year Groups, provides older role models to younger students, and develops student-leadership opportunities.
The majority of teaching now happens in mixed ability groupings. We have reviewed our approach in light of the available national research evidence, which concludes overall that setting can have a negative impact on attainment. We have retained setting in Mathematics and Science, informed by the tiered assessment approach that has been retained by examination boards at GCSE.
When Year 7 enter the school there are two year group ‘halves’ created, purely for the purposes of timetabling. Where we have an uneven number of teaching classes created (e.g. five classes where we have a Year 7 of 150 students), the larger half is named ‘x’ on the timetable, whereas the small half is named ‘y’. Both ‘sides’ of the Year Group study the full Modern Foreign Language curriculum i.e. French and German.
Ability grouping for teaching sets in Mathematics and Science Ability groups are constructed carefully and in consultation with the Head of Department. Staff involved in creating the groups will use the following information:
- Prior attainment data, including SAT results
- Recommendations from primary colleagues
- Performance data from in-school assessments and end of year examinations
- Students’ end of KS4 targets
- Professional judgement
Ability grouping will vary in its structure across curriculum areas. The following list shows some of the ways that subjects may set students at Brimsham Green, and varies according to the ability profile and size of Year Group.
- Top set, upper middle set, lower middle set and lower set. This system of ability grouping has a set one, a second set, a third set and a fourth set. The most able students are in set one and the students that need the most support are in set 4. Generally set one will have more students than set four.
- Top set, two middle sets and lower set. This system is less rigid than the first and allows for a set one, a set three and two generally equal sets in the middle.
- Top set, lower top set, upper middle set and lower middle set. This system allows two higher ability sets to exist and a further two sets where students who need more support to exist.
Where there is a whole year group taught at one time by the Mathematics/Science department there can be up to 7 teaching groups. This is more likely to occur at Key Stage 4. The following setting options is applied:
- Set 1 set 2, set 3, set 4, set 5, set 6, and set 7. Set one would have the most able students, while set seven would have students that need considerable support to achieve their targets.
There are many other possible variations to the above models of groupings, both for mixed and setted ability. However the underlying principle is that the class teacher is both responsible for students’ learning being appropriately challenge and there being effective differentiation, and also accountable for students’ outcomes.
Procedures and timings for set changes:
During the course of the year students are assessed by their subject teachers. These assessments help teachers make judgements about the progress students are making. They are also used to help make decisions about changes in groupings. At Brimsham Green School there are three possible opportunities for changes in sets during the academic year, and these are after the ‘Assessment Points’ when Current Grades are entered.
If a teacher feels that a student should move groups then they first discuss it with their Head of Department. If in agreement, the Head of Department then liaises with our Data Manager, Mrs Davis, so that students’ timetables and class lists can be amended.
NOTE: There must also be discussion and agreement between subjects if they are blocked together on the timetable before any moves can be made.