The way we group students within the pastoral and academic structures at Brimsham Green School is vital. Ensuring students are placed in appropriate groups is something we believe helps to support students achieve their very best and make excellent progress. The policy below outlines our thoughts around ability grouping 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 can be challenged to achieve their very best.
To ensure teaching staff are able to plan the best possible learning experiences for all students regardless of their ability or prior experiences.
Tutor groups at Brimsham Green are generally mixed ability. They are constructed carefully in consultation with many stakeholders to ensure that they are balanced.
Teaching in tutor groups can sometimes be useful, but at Brimsham Green we believe that youngsters should be taught where appropriate and possible, in ability groups. In a minority of subjects, ability grouping is not always desirable and we therefore either construct mixed ability groups from across a range of tutor groups or teach in tutor groups.
When Year 7 enter the school there are two year group ‘halves’ created. One has 120 children in it (tutor groups B,R,M,S), while the other with 90 children in it is formed from tutor groups H, G and E.
The larger half is named ‘x’ on the timetable.
The small half is named ‘y’ on the timetable.
The larger half will study French at Key Stage 3, while the smaller half all study German.
Ability grouping for teaching sets:
Ability groups are constructed carefully and may be different depending on the subject. Staff involved in creating the groups will use the following information:
- Performance data including SAT results, Cognitive Attainment Test results, etc.
- Performance data from in-school assessments.
- Professional judgement
- Recommendations from primary colleagues
Ability grouping will vary in its structure across curriculum areas. The following list shows some of the ways that subjects may set youngsters at Brimsham Green.
- 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 youngsters who need more support to exist.
Where there is a whole year group taught at one time by a department there can be up to 9 teaching groups. This is more likely to occur at Key Stage 4 in Core subjects such as Maths and Science.
Where the whole year group is on at one time in one department, the following setting options may be applied:
- Set 1 set 2, set 3, set 4, set 5, set 6, set 7, set, 8 and set 9. Set one would have the most able students, while set nine would have students that need considerable support to achieve success.
- Set 1, set 2 set 3a, set 3b set 3c, set 3d, set 4, set 5 and set 6. Sets 1 and 2 contain higher ability students while sets 4, 5 and 6 have youngsters who need the most support. Sets 3a to 3d are mixed middle ability groups.
There are many other possible variations to the above models that could be used within departments to make ability grouping successful. However, the underlying principle is one of ability grouping to ensure appropriate challenge and effective differentiation of learning.
Procedures and timings for set changes:
During the course of the year youngsters are assessed by their subject teachers. These assessments often called key assessment tasks, help teachers make judgements about progress being made. They are also used to help make decisions about changes in ability groupings. At Brimsham Green School there are three possible opportunities for changes in sets during the academic year. If a teacher feels that a youngster should move groups then they should first of all discuss it with their head of department. If the head of department agrees with the proposed change then they must discuss the decision with Mr A Martin who is the only member of staff who can make the appropriate changes to student timetables and class lists.
NOTE: There must also be discussion and agreement between subjects if they are blocked together before any moves can be made.
Times when changes to sets will be considered:
- At the end of the Autumn Term (December for January)
- At the end of the Spring Term (March for April)
- At the end of the Summer Term (July for September)
In exceptional circumstances changes can be made at other points during the year. These must be discussed with Mr A Martin, Assistant Headteacher.