When pupils join the school they are placed in a Form or Tutor Group, which will stay together for the five years of compulsory secondary education. This group of about 28 pupils will place them with their friends from primary school, and their Tutor will ensure not only their settling successfully into the school but also that their academic progress is going well.
For most lessons, pupils are taught in groups independent of their Tutor Groups. These groups are assigned a letter: N, E, L, S, T, H, M, W and G – from the name of our school and town. Pupils will stay in these groups for English, Science, French, Geography, History and RE.
Seven of these groups are parallel, of about 29 pupils, but do not contain the full range of ability. The other two groups provide specific help for pupils with difficulties in learning: one is a small group of pupils and addresses their particular problems in learning, and the other is a group of 18-20 pupils who have not found schooling easy at the primary stage and who are on a fast track programme to make compensatory progress. (The aim is for these pupils to catch up by the start of Year 8.) These groups are withdrawn from French, instead receiving more Literacy lessons to help them become ‘secondary ready’.
In Mathematics, Science and Computing, setting by ability is introduced at the start of Year 7 based upon prior attainment data. This is reviewed at October half term.
For their other lessons Year 7 pupils are taught in groups of approximately 20 for the practical subjects: Art, Design and Technology, Physical Education and Music. Pupils are also familiarised with the use of the school library and introduced to the Accelerated Reader Programme.
Setting in Years 8 and 9
There is a deliberate design to the groupings in Year 7, and this becomes more formal in Years 8 and 9. Setting in Mathematics, Science and Computing continues, and is introduced for English, French, Geography, History and RE. This allows groups to follow the right work at the right pace. The number of groups in each year gives us the flexibility to match the curriculum’s demands with each pupil’s strengths and needs. Some pupils are given the chance to study Spanish as an additional language. One of the two ‘supported groups’ now begins to study French.
Learning Support for pupils with Special Needs
We have a clear policy here: all pupils are to be helped to be successful in their learning. We are no less ambitious for pupils with special needs in education, and if the difficulties lie with reading, or numeracy, or spelling, or handwriting, then we seek to put them right. Grouping pupils appropriately from Year 7 is important, and we are justly proud of the success of the Paired Reading scheme and the gains in reading that children have made through it. We aim to make a difference to these pupils’ learning.