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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:21 pm 
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My DS has just finished year 8 at Parmiter's. His class is consists only of high ability children. In each half of the year there are two high ability classes and one lower ability classes. My DS tells me that the worst behaved and disruptive children are in the lower ability class and that the equivalent class in the other half of the year is even worse in behaviour terms. Until know my DS has only met these children in PE and D&T, with everything else taught in sets or class groupings. From September it has been decided that the classes will also be mixed for history, geography, English etc, leaving only MFL, Maths and Science setted by ability.

Can parents with DCs in mixed ability groups provide feedback on how this affects higher ability children? My concerns are not only around how this change will affect my DS in year 9. I also have a year 5 DS to consider. For me, the class setting by ability from year 7 was a key attraction for me and I am concerned that I will need to consider independent options for him.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:03 pm 
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Location: Herts
How has this change been presented to the parents? As a semi selective school parents are attracted to Parmiters because they want their students to be with other able students. I am not a fan of mixed ability but it can work with a strong teacher. I am surprised to hear they are unpicking the English sets as the range of ability in English in a year group can be vast. There must be a reason why they are doing this but it could well have a negative impact on their league tables. I have seen previously able students being led astray by less able students who just want to muck about. This obviously results in a reduction in the academic potential of the able student. DG


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:16 pm 
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It has pluses I guess in terms of learning to deal with and work with all sorts of people. My DD has learned to appreciate the added "texture" (her word) of the academically challenged and earned their respect by using her brains to help the group. Maybe that will turn out to be more valuable to her in the future. I can only hope.

If the teachers are good then the outcome in terms of value added to exams I believe is little different on average- in other words if they arrived as high achievers they will usually get the marks in the end.

She took exam for Parmiters but refused to choose it over the local comp, which has some excellent departments. I've had regrets but I don't think the mixed sets are too bad, mostly. It has held her back in some areas but she has compensated by developing new interests, and pursuing home study for her passion areas.

One worry is maturity-will peer pressure not to "show off" reduce class participation? We have had that though it seems to come from the bright rivals!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:54 am 
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Daogroupie wrote:
How has this change been presented to the parents? DG


There has been no communication with parents. DS came home on Thursday, very upset and angry, to say that this has been decided. He will be with his class for registration period only, and there will be no review of the arrangement before November. He, and all his class mates, are concerned about having all their lessons disrupted.

At a time when Gove is calling for more setting by ability, this school is taking a step in the opposite direction. This may be of benefit to lower ability children but I can't see that it benefits my DS.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:27 am 
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I believe they are moving towards mixed ability forms, although I was under the impression that this was already the case for the current Year 7 into 8. DD will start in September and according to the website this is what happens:

In Years 7 and 8, students are taught in mixed ability form groups for English.
Students in Year 7 are taught in their form groups for Mathematics throughout the year. At the end of Year 7 students are put into sets according to their performance during the year.
The students are taught in their form groups and receive six lessons of Science each fortnight. In Year 9 students are taught in sets; sets are determined by their performance during Year 8.


I don't know for how long this information has been on their website, but it is pretty much what I was expecting. I knew that changes were taking place but can't remember how I knew.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:45 pm 
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Location: Herts
I wasn't happy to only hear about this through my DC either. I was interested to hear that at least this will be under review for a few months, so thank you for that information.

I definitely do have some concerns. However, actually not all the 'worst behaved & disruptive' children are in the mixed band. I know some lovely boys & girls from these classes. I also know some real shockers in the upper band. Perhaps they need 'spreading out' to dilute their impact on others too?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:25 pm 
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In general from my experience children in lower sets seem to suffer from more pupil disruption. Most schools do stream but not all from year 7. I can understand a need to stream for Maths and English and perhaps languages but maybe it is not so essential with other subjects. However I am not a teacher. My eldest was in top sets for maths, sciences and MFL and there was definitely less disruptive students in these classes. Perhaps it is a way of spreading some students around, Parmiters is a larger school now than 2 years ago so maybe this is the rationale behind this. Perhaps less academic pupils can be inspired by working alongside brighter children. You could ask why they are changing.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:38 pm 
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Just also to add that the Gov do indeed talk about further streaming. However schools especially successful ones are always worried about league tables. Modular GCSE's have now been abolished after this summer. Children will now need to sit 1 exam for their GCSE's . No more breaking subjects in to small sections and multiple resits to boost grades. Some schools relied heavily on these modular exams even some of our local super partially selectives although less so at Watford grammar schools. Perhaps these future changes are influencing the way our schools feel they need to teach.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:03 pm 
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I wonder if this is to do with 'resilience'. I heard that there is a paper coming out this Autumn about well-being in young people (in terms of mental health). The pressures young people are under as they approach adulthood affect them unilaterally whether they are highly academic (perfectionalist etc) or lower achieving (poor esteem etc)? This is becoming better understood and documented.

As a parent, I favour setting from day 1 for the reasons stated - hard-working peers etc. But DS is already feeling the pressure - top set maths is galloping ahead with some extension work for the really able - GCSE standard - and anything less than top set not being good enough (wonder where that came from :oops: ). Does a 12 year old really need to be at GCSE standard though?! I don't think it is the fear of being with disruptive pupils, it is the punitive atmosphere you suddenly find yourself in with the beleagured teacher having to constantly play bad cop. This is the gist of what I have gleaned from DS setted for every subject except DT, Art, Drama, Music and streamed for PE.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:40 pm 
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The way that I see it is that my DS, who has spent 2 years in a high ability class with lessons pitched at a higher level, will spend the next year in less stimulating lessons with more pupil instigated interruptions. I can't see that this arrangement has any benefit to the children from the 4 upper classes. In fact it may well create a new batch of disruptive pupils from the now bored high achievers.
Are there any parents of current year 7s on the forum? How have they found the mixed ability classes?


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