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Setting in KS4

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Brillantina, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. Brillantina

    Brillantina New commenter

    hi all,

    I’m after advice please! My school is currently following Ebacc for GCSE and as a result, we have some students opting for MFL because they see it as easier than the other ebacc options (?) or that it’s the best option of a ‘challenging bunch’ and these students typically struggle academically.

    This has left us with a cohort of VERY mixed ability students studying MFL at GCSE in mixed ability classes, the less able moaning that they didn’t want to do MFL anyway and they only chose it as there ‘was nothing else’ they could do.... this is proving extremely difficult to teach.

    Obviously I’m all for differentiation but it is virtually impossible to differentiate for students who are targeted a 8-9 grade and who need to be challenged at all times (teaching to the top) and then for students who are targeted a 1-2 grade at GCSE in the same class - very often, one of these groups of students is left frustrated/bored and/or lacking in confidence. (We also have the issue of teaching the 4 skills to the two tiers of exam, foundation and higher.)

    What about in your schools? Do you set classes at KS4?
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    In my experience setting benefits the top kids but does the weaker ones no favours. I once tried setting by skill with parallel classes. Three lessons out of four doing mixed ability and then fourth lesson they went into sets and did grammar/writing.
    pascuam49 likes this.
  3. carterkit

    carterkit Occasional commenter

    Sorry - no words of wisdom on setting. Tried both ways - there are pros and cons to both setted and non-setted classes.

    But for the future it might just be worth asking some of them why they thought MFL would be easier. We had this problem for a couple of years at my last school and eventually discovered that a very lovely but misguided non-teaching head of year was telling lower ability pupils that they would be better off doing MFL rather than history or geography because they wouldn't have to write as much. :eek: This led to unrealistic expections on the part of the pupils as to them not as much writing meant would be much easier and some of them were genuinely outraged to discover this was not the case!
    Brillantina likes this.
  4. cake4tea

    cake4tea New commenter

    I remember this argument from years ago and the research at the time showed that whichever system you believed in worked for you. It's swings and roundabouts - I think the more able kids will do better in sets, as you can really push them, but the lower sets may flounder and be a nightmare to teach, especially once they realise it's not as easy as they perhaps thought!
  5. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    Try the setting by skill as I outlined above. If the groups run together you can pinpoint a lesson where you can differentiate and kids can even move between groups for different skills.So most lessons pupil is with Mrs d in ma group. Every other Friday Mrs d and 2 colleagues do grammar/writing/ advanced listening whatever. Pupil knows he is middling and goes to middle set for that lesson. Teachers have agreed in advance what they will do in sets. Otherwise pupil works with Mrs d and she assesses him. He goes to assistant in designated group which could be set or not depending on behaviour! He has designated partner for pair work again you could put weak pupil with able or two of equal ability- your choice. If in set lesson pupil is unusually able, say bilingual but weak writing you can factor that in and he can go to advanced listening but middle writing when you chose to do this with colleagues.
    BrightonEarly likes this.
  6. BrightonEarly

    BrightonEarly Occasional commenter

    @meggyd What have you called the lower group?
  7. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    I would stick with higher/foundation or maybe basic. I would also ask the pupils to assess themselves for the group they go to. They normally pick the right group if you ask them to do this privately on a piece of paper. If you have over or under estimates you can normally discuss this quietly before lessons. The whole point of it is that nothing is set in stone and people move according to need. And if they play around you can too. So if they hate Mrs d and go to Mrs z s room when it is group time because they think the work will be easier,let them move and then you move rooms putting Mrs d in Mrs zs room!!! They realise they can't play that game!
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018

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