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Setting/streaming: what's your take?

As everyone settles down into a new term, teachers are getting to grips with their new classes, parents are happily back into a routine and the children – well, it’s like they’ve never been away, but what lies ahead in the year to come?

As an education professional, you know that the way you teach will vary throughout the day based on the ‘set’ you have. But does your experience and role affect the teaching you deliver and what are the benefits for children?

A recent survey by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and Queen's University Belfast highlighted a number of areas for concern.

Key findings*

  • A third of pupils were placed in sets that were either higher or lower than their end-of-primary results would have warranted based on their Key Stage 2 SATs maths scores
  • Of this group, almost equal proportions were misallocated upwards (15.7 per cent) and downwards (15.5 per cent). 
  • Once differences in socioeconomic background were controlled for, girls were 1.55 times more likely to be misallocated to a lower maths set than boys.
  • Black pupils were 2.54 times more likely to be misallocated to a lower set in maths, compared with white pupils. This was part of findings showing that top-set students were more likely to be white and middle class, while bottom-set students were more likely to be working class and black.
  • Teachers who are highly qualified in their subject are less likely to teach lower sets; some young people in lower sets feel limited or ‘babied’ by their teachers; and those in lower sets have less self-confidence in the subject

The 'Dos and Dont's of attainment Grouping' has been published by the project group working on the research that draws out tips for best practice in setting and in mixed attainment grouping, based on the research evidence.

We’d be really keen to hear your thoughts on this and the impact you feel this practice has on your ability to teach. Is the practice out of date in today’s society, is there a better way to help pupils achieve their best or does setting/streaming still work. Share you views with us:

Our School Improvement team can also help teachers and school leaders with bespoke consultancy and a range of courses to assist with CPD.

* Data from over 9000 Year 7 pupils at 46 secondary schools in England