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Pros and Cons of setting for maths?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by vegaslady, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. Or even a hard and fast rule...
  2. thehawk

    thehawk Occasional commenter

    My experience of setting is that in a very middel class school all the top set got level 5, all the middle set, bar a couple got level 4 (the couple got 5) and all the lower set got level 3. But that was 30% of the year group. Therefore 70% level 4 or above in a very middle class area was appalling - our target was 88% that year.
  3. nmason

    nmason New commenter

    When faced by a huge range of abilities this year (and a lot of level 2 or below children who have never experienced being taught by a qualified teacher) I pushed my teaching partner in to setting our Year 5s. After this terms assessment it has shown that it is really working well. I also questioned the whole school about opinions in maths and found no difference between those who were in the bottom groups, they were all really positive. My middly top half (of the bottom group) have done really well and are brimming with confidence.

    The key thing I find is that the poorer ones can really learn from the others in the initial part of the lesson whereas usually they can't access it and switch off if they are in the lesson.

    I'm all for setting because they can tell what group they are in even if you just differentiate the work in the lesson.
  4. I teach a mixed year 1/2 class. I don't know how I would teach effectively if we didn't set for English and maths.
    1st term with high flying year 2's and year 1's who had only been in school full time about 10 weeks... i challenge anyone to teach any of the class well. (i did do 3 weeks of class English at the start of the term and really felt that I wasn't doing my job properly for any of them)

    You can teach in topics but you do have to discuss and plan with the other teachers regularly, and if my low maths group are excellent at shape (or adding, or taking away) then i teach at their level.
  5. spaggsuk

    spaggsuk New commenter

    As everyone has said, plenty of pros and cons.

    In my school we try and do a bit of everything.

    For some units we set the classes and for others activites we use mix ability groups. This goes some way to helping children feel they are all valued.

    Bottom line, you have to what you feel comfortable with.

  6. I was always against setting, in theory - that was until i experienced it - i feel quite strongly about this - so i apologise in advance for the waffle!
    I am now in my second year of teaching year 2 where we set for Numeracy and Literacy. We have two year 2 classes and split into a higher and lower ability group.
    The spread of abilities across our year 2 is huge - children range from working at level W (non-readers/writers) to level 3.
    I can't imagine how we could enable the children to achieve what they do without setting. The high ability children are really stretched and the teacher is able to move them along at a much quicker pace than the less able.
    The less able children are still stretched - but at their level. I agree, that if the lower ability group are treated as 'they won't be able to do it - so why bother?'then it won't be productive for them.
    However, we don't do that. We really push them, but at a pace more suitable to them and spend the time that they need refining the skills they have and building their confidence and building independence.
    Chldren are given a chance to shine and become 'good' at something that they would never have the chance to do in a class where there are a number of 'know it alls. My experience of non-streaming is that the less/middle ability flounder while the more able tend to be 'left to it' while the others are supported.

  7. thehawk

    thehawk Occasional commenter

    Can anyone answer the question of how you cope with parents evenings when some children have three teachers - one for maths, one for english and then their class teacher?
  8. 2 parents evenings per term

    Autumn - class teachers only, settling in info. English and maths teachers make notes and pass on to class teacher but at this point we've probably only taught in sets for 2 or 3 weeks so not much info to give.

    Spring - parents are given 2 appointment slots so they can choose to see math & english, maths & home class etc

    Summer - as above.

    There is also the opportunity to make an appointment and speak to any teacher at any time of the year and if we have any concerns we don't wait until parents evening to speak to the parents.
  9. I am astonished that some teachers think it's ok to set in Year 1/Year 2. Surely children at that age need the stability that is provided by having the same teacher for all (or almost all) lessons. And surely at this age, children's learning benefits from having a teacher who knows the children inside-out.

    I also believe children in Year 6 need this too.

    And surely it goes without saying that socially, children of primary age benefit from working, playing and communicating within a close-knit group of children for all lessons.

    And from the teachers' point-of-view, isn't one of the attractions of primary teaching that you develop an intimate relationship with your class? That's certainly why I switched from secondary to primary teaching.

    So in our relentless pursuit of attainment levels, aren't those in favour of setting ignoring some of the key pastoral and social benefits of class teaching? Admittedly, we can't measure some of these benefits using numbers and levels, but does that make it any less important?

  10. Setting in primary is pointless, basically thediffentiation within a 'set' is non existent and the kids still get the same grade because of this.
  11. thehawk

    thehawk Occasional commenter

    I'm with you Sulla. Primary's strength is that one teacher all day thing, unlike secondary's one teacher per subject. There are so many opportunites to do extra maths and english through other subjects and then you have to get to know the children not in your set in order to do this. When I had to set, I got to the end of the year and still felt there were a few children I didn't really know, and nobody actually knew them becasue they had three different teachers every day. Unsurprisingly, these were the children who performed poorly overall and made little (no) progress, and nobody was really alerted to the fact. These are the children that need the whole curriculum support and security of one teacher. :0)
  12. Our school is lucky enough to have 3 forms of entry split between 4 maths set. For that we have a large top set, two slightly-smaller-than-class-sized parallel middle sets, and then a 'support' set of less than 15 pupils.
    I think setting for the most able tends to be positive. I think it's useful for our weakest pupils to be focussing on more useful applied skills
    I like that the middle sets are 'parallel'

    Most of all, I like that I teach the top set :eek:)
  13. Hey Guys,

    I am currently doing some research in to setting and would reallylike to talk to teachers who are using/working with setting.

    If anyone is interested please give me a call.

    0121 224 8399.
    Kind regards.

  14. Jim,
    I am looking into setting too, did you find anything of great interest? I am struggling to locate research in this area


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