Not "setting" in GCSE class

(76 Posts)
Rufus43 Fri 06-Sep-13 14:35:20

My son has just gone into year 10. He is in ability set classes for a few subjects but not for history (hasn't had all his lessons yet so maybe more)

To me there is a huge difference between a potential A* child and one that may work really hard for an E, it feels like the ones in the middle may get lost a little.

I appreciate that it may be down to logistics but is this usual? State school if that makes any difference

Rufus43 Mon 09-Sep-13 18:48:10

Thanks talkinpeace I knew there had to be a good reason, just finished the film lawless set in the same period...pity it's an 18. Have to stick with Bugsy Malone!

That's very interesting ellie thanks

elliepac Mon 09-Sep-13 17:33:44

She may not think it awesome but she is clearly awesome at itgrin.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 09-Sep-13 17:31:17

ellie I'm not sure whether DD1 would describe it as awesome - but she got an A* (with maximum marks on that paper) so perhaps she would! grin

elliepac Mon 09-Sep-13 17:23:35

choccy i taught both a setted and unsetted class this year. Results in comparison to target were pretty similar. The non-setted class were, overall, lower ability as the setted class were a top set. But in the non-setted class it is worth noting that there were several children predicted a D who got a C and pupils predicted a C who got a B. my one very bright student who was predicted an A got an A*. Even in my top set there was a range of targets from A* - C. Those who worked hard got what they were capable of and more in some cases.

If I had my choice i would have sets every time but high achievement is possible in any class with good teaching and a motivated student no matter what their ability.

As for the medicine debate, I have taught both the more common world wars and nazis and the medicine and I prefer the medicine and American West is awesome.grin

Talkinpeace Mon 09-Sep-13 17:04:05

Prohibition is studied because it is such a well documented case study of unintended consequences that is historic and foreign enough for English curriculum setters to be happy with

choccyp1g Mon 09-Sep-13 14:04:38

Elliepac Given that you have both setted and unsetted classes for history, I assume that your school compares the results and progress against targets for each class.

Do you find that there is a noticeable difference betwen the setted and unsetted classes?

What parents really want to know, is will my child achieve the best they can? or would they do better in a set/unset class.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 09-Sep-13 12:16:26

DD1 did medicine through the ages and 'the American west'. I was a bit cat'sbummouth about it, because (old gimmer alert) any fule kno that you study the industrial revolution at O level. grin But she loved it.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 09-Sep-13 10:36:36

ha, we did prohibition too! grin

Rufus43 Mon 09-Sep-13 10:35:28

Think you are right original through I don't think he is set for science either!

I was a bit confused when I read that he would be studying the American prohibition! Do we not have any history! Although its probably really interesting grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 09-Sep-13 10:03:23

God, we did 'history of medicine' in 1994, am surprised it's still the same! Theory of the 4 humours is the main thing I remember.

OP, this was the same with us to an extent after options, because with all the other variables in option blocks, setting becomes more complex and not always possible. I think they did some tweaking so that one half of the year was higher ability than the other, but languages and humanities were 'less' set than science, maths and english. I think it is fairly common.

BackforGood Mon 09-Sep-13 09:59:53

It was the fact they were studying 'the history of medicine' for GCSE that put my dd right off - she's not picked history as an option because of that.

Rufus43 Mon 09-Sep-13 08:55:21

Thanks slower

I said that to my son yesterday, the grades you get are down to the work you do.....unless you get a girlfriend in which case all bets are off!

volestair Mon 09-Sep-13 00:14:10

To be fair the history of medicine could and should be fascinating.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 08-Sep-13 23:38:37

If it helps, I got an A in a fairly mixed ability group for history. I could have probably got an A* if I hadn't discovered boys about halfway through year 11.

I found 'medicine through the ages' much more interesting to study than the holocaust, but then I am much more interested in biology than history.

elliepac Sun 08-Sep-13 19:16:39

gringrin volestair not in teacher mode at the moment. Too busy refereeing the dc's over who's got the biggest portion of apple crumble. Sublime to ridiculouswinkgrin.

elliepac Sun 08-Sep-13 19:15:03

All the exam boards do it volestair so that may explain the differencesmile.

I think your point about stretching the brightest is a valid one although I do think that getting an A* is stretching enough for anything other than the top 1%. I have just said goodbye to my brightest group of pupils ever. They achieved 60% A/A*. They all found History very difficult. There were only 2 however i would say were truly gifted and they did extra reading around the subject matter.

volestair Sun 08-Sep-13 19:12:58

Evaluating, not validating, I meant earlier. Either my phone sneakily substituted a word to undermine me evil phone hates me or I had a brain-fart. Luckily you were far too gracious to point out my error grin

Perhaps I should be more rigorous.

volestair Sun 08-Sep-13 19:09:25

You may teach it thus, elliepac, but unless it is a different exam board inexplicably covering the same subject, it is not taught that way at all schools, or wasn't over a decade a few years ago. I suspect you are in fact teaching beyond the standard at which it is possible to gain an A*.

elliepac Sun 08-Sep-13 19:04:27

Now you see volestair, we teach tedious Medicine through Time and I can assure you, having taught the war stuff in another school that the source analysis is every bit as rigorous as other specifications.

It is hard to transfer with History because even within our local authority all schools do different combinations.

volestair Sun 08-Sep-13 18:59:50

No worries elliepac grin

I admit I have no idea how you'd differentiate lessons for an ability range as wide as A* to C, let alone any wider than that. I don't even have a lot of opinions on setting, and I don't know what impact setting has on children across the ability range. I really shouldn't have said "(i)t's probably pretty easy to differentiate a lesson for kids working A* to F" - because I am willing to bet it's really bloody hard.

I can only say that "the brightest" covers kids who are as far from the average as children at the other end of the ability spectrum, and certainly covers kids who with the right teaching are capable of achievement well above what the GCSE system encourages us to settle for.

History is an interesting one - my experience as a child was of moving from a school which studied a syllabus which covered the world wars and a bit either side, and involved all that good stuff about validating sources and putting things in a larger historical and political context, to a school which used some tedious exam board's idea of "Medicine through the ages", which was about as rigorous as a damp sponge pudding.

elliepac Sun 08-Sep-13 18:49:01

And i still got it wrong volestair <triple checks>blush.

elliepac Sun 08-Sep-13 18:48:28

Whoops, posting whilst trying to bathr DC's never worksblushgrin.

I think I meant fourMarys and you voilestar. Got it hopelessly wrong....and they let me teach childrenwinkgrin.

volestair Sun 08-Sep-13 18:45:44

elliepac, is FourStars me?

wordfactory Sun 08-Sep-13 18:37:37

talkin I have experinced being in mixed ability setting every week for the last eight years as part of my voluntary work.

I'm also a governor at a school with mixed ability setting.

And my DC have expereinced some limited mixed ability setting.


elliepac Sun 08-Sep-13 18:34:39

FourStars All children, regardless of ability, are taught how to evaluate interpretation and reliability. They are key historical skills and i would not be doing my job properly if I did not do that. The initial method of delivery will be to the whole class on a simple entry level ( to give an example, i often use the x-factor to show how you can get 4 different interpretations of the same event, biased judges etc.) At that point, then they will be stretched within their different groups.

And how is achieving an A* not stretching the brightest. Despite Mr Gove's assumptions the levels of knowledge and skill needed makes History one of the most academically challenging GCSE's. An A* cannot be gained by a bright pupil working hard. That teaching has to have taken place.

Mixed ability, I would agree, is not the ideal but not many subjects have true setting apart from Maths, English and Science. Even my top set has a range from A* to C and my bottom set from C-F.

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