Keystage 3 Overview
When pupils join the school they are placed in a Form or Tutor Group, which will stay together for the next five years of 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, and W – from the name of our school and town.
Six 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.) The majority of subjects are taught in this arrangement.
Depending upon the nature of each incoming cohort, setting by ability may be introduced for Mathematics and Computing, either from the start of Year 7 or later in the year. Setting decisions are based upon a range of data, including prior attainment data from primary school.
For practical subjects (Art, Design and Technology, Physical Education and Music) pupils are taught in groups of approximately 20. Pupils are also familiarised with the use of the school library.
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 and Computing continues with Science joining this arrangement and introduced for English, French, Geography, History and RE. There is some flexibility here to allow some of the subjects to set independently of the full ‘curriculum block’. Setting allows groups to follow the right work at the right pace. The number of groups in each year also 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. However, as a response to the pandemic most classes, except in Mathematics, Computing and Science are currently mixed ability.
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. We are justly proud of the success of our interventions (such as the Paired Reading scheme) and the gains in that children make.