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Should lessons be set or be mixed ability?

This poll is closed

Should lessons be set or be mixed ability?

Yes51%
No9%
Only core subjects40%
Total votes: 43
Hi, I am year 9 and in my school some lessons are set and some are not. In your opinion do you think they should be set? I am setting up a poll, but feel free to expand on your opinion in this thread! I would be very happy to hear your view. :rofl3:

P.S I messed up the poll and can‘t figure out how to change it, the Yes option means lessons should be set and the No option means they should not, sorry :frown:
(edited 11 months ago)

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Reply 1
I think there's a benefit as having them set as different students have different abilities and when it's mixed ether it's too advanced or too simple. I found it being set helpful because generally the students who caused distributions didn't have to be in my class, which is nice during exam times.
I personally think that in subjects that have 'tiers' at GCSE should be sets but anything else mixed ability.
Reply 3
Original post by JA03
I personally think that in subjects that have 'tiers' at GCSE should be sets but anything else mixed ability.

JA03 I agree with that, as the tiered Subjects are the only ones that that really need content to be taught at a certain level.

James Oden, I get what you are saying, I am in set 1 (top) for all set lessons (apart from P.E) so my lessons are not disrupted too much. Also it is beneficial doing more challenging content, as it gives me an opportunity to still learn something new and it id more engaging.
(edited 11 months ago)
Original post by Moonlight:)
Hi, I am year 9 and in my school some lessons are set and some are not. In your opinion do you think they should be set? I am setting up a poll, but feel free to expand on your opinion in this thread! I would be very happy to hear your view. :rofl3:

Lessons should be set in most cases.

There are different levels of intelligence within a class. ~95% of people are within two standard deviations of the mean. However that is a huge range. It ranges from people almost intellectually disabled to almost gifted. It'll be very difficult for a teacher to bridge the gap.

I'd say there should be a few sets per subject, maybe more depending on the number of students. My general idea for setting:

Set 1 (Above and beyond set): Top 2% in ability, these gifted individuals may start needing significant educational adjustment. A lot of enrichment or even moving up a year in a specific subject. High intellect should also be used to select, to see those who can actually keep up.

Set 2 (relatively bright set): Top 10%, they are relatively bright, could continue the subject, into decent universities etc. and put more enrichment.

Set 3 (above average set): Top 25%, they're above average though not that bright. Some enrichment/extension.

Set 4 (average set): Top 75%, most people anyway.

Set 5 (below average set): Bottom 25%, they probably won't continue this subject anyway at A-level or beyond.

Set 6 (foundation set): Bottom 10%, they aren't too skilled to the point... a foundation may be all they can get away with.

Set 7 (if they can even grasp much): Bottom 2%, they are so bad at the subject, it's going to be very difficult to teach them. Significant intervention may be required at this level.
Original post by JamesOden
I think there's a benefit as having them set as different students have different abilities and when it's mixed ether it's too advanced or too simple. I found it being set helpful because generally the students who caused distributions didn't have to be in my class, which is nice during exam times.

I agree, but how would you set them?

I'd have many sets, ranging from the gifted set, all the way to the set that needs special attention if they want to have a basic level in the subject.
Original post by JA03
I personally think that in subjects that have 'tiers' at GCSE should be sets but anything else mixed ability.

Do you think mixed ability may work, especially with a huge range? Remember that 95% of people have general intelligence within two standard deviations. All of them in the same class?

The almost gifted person and the almost intellectually disabled person have progress rates that are so different from each other.
Original post by justlearning1469

The almost gifted person and the almost intellectually disabled person have progress rates that are so different from each other.

I understand what you're saying. This is why in core subjects, they're tiered (except English but most schools do them in sets). However, for additional subjects such as business, languages, etc - some schools have a system where they give their students options based off their progress in school. For example my school gave us options based off our SATs (ridiculous if you ask me but yk) so I, someone who was fairly intelligent at GCSE, got given the option to only do the GCSE options (no BTECs) and I had to pick a language as well as a humanity at least while others who may not be more academically gifted got the chance to pick EITHER a language or a humanity alongside BTEC options. My school did this to ensure that students of a 'similar' intelligence would be grouped together.

And having mixed ability can be good. Some students revise using Fuyten's technique (I think that's the name - it's when people revise by explaining the concepts to other people) and while they do that, they could be helping someone who may not be as academically gifted as they are - essentially, mutually beneficial.

Teachers don't monitor progress as a whole, they do it on an individual basis so they can focus on certain people to help them - this is in mixed ability additional GCSE subjects.

Tiered subjects like maths and science definitely should be in sets so the teachers don't have to teach some people content they don't need to know and because it's tiered, you can't exactly have a foundation tier student in the same class as a higher tier student.
Original post by justlearning1469
Lessons should be set in most cases.

There are different levels of intelligence within a class. ~95% of people are within two standard deviations of the mean. However that is a huge range. It ranges from people almost intellectually disabled to almost gifted. It'll be very difficult for a teacher to bridge the gap.

I'd say there should be a few sets per subject, maybe more depending on the number of students. My general idea for setting:

Set 1 (Above and beyond set): Top 2% in ability, these gifted individuals may start needing significant educational adjustment. A lot of enrichment or even moving up a year in a specific subject. High intellect should also be used to select, to see those who can actually keep up.

Set 2 (relatively bright set): Top 10%, they are relatively bright, could continue the subject, into decent universities etc. and put more enrichment.

Set 3 (above average set): Top 25%, they're above average though not that bright. Some enrichment/extension.

Set 4 (average set): Top 75%, most people anyway.

Set 5 (below average set): Bottom 25%, they probably won't continue this subject anyway at A-level or beyond.

Set 6 (foundation set): Bottom 10%, they aren't too skilled to the point... a foundation may be all they can get away with.

Set 7 (if they can even grasp much): Bottom 2%, they are so bad at the subject, it's going to be very difficult to teach them. Significant intervention may be required at this level.

I agree, but how would you set them?

I'd have many sets, ranging from the gifted set, all the way to the set that needs special attention if they want to have a basic level in the subject.

Do you think mixed ability may work, especially with a huge range? Remember that 95% of people have general intelligence within two standard deviations. All of them in the same class?

The almost gifted person and the almost intellectually disabled person have progress rates that are so different from each other.

I was in set 1 for Maths and Science at one point and I can definitely tell you that I wasn't top 2% ability (simply did no revision for every Maths exam (including the real exam) and got a grade 5, for Science my school was probably blind when they thought that me being in set 1 science was a good idea).

Original post by JA03
I understand what you're saying. This is why in core subjects, they're tiered (except English but most schools do them in sets). However, for additional subjects such as business, languages, etc - some schools have a system where they give their students options based off their progress in school. For example my school gave us options based off our SATs (ridiculous if you ask me but yk) so I, someone who was fairly intelligent at GCSE, got given the option to only do the GCSE options (no BTECs) and I had to pick a language as well as a humanity at least while others who may not be more academically gifted got the chance to pick EITHER a language or a humanity alongside BTEC options. My school did this to ensure that students of a 'similar' intelligence would be grouped together.

And having mixed ability can be good. Some students revise using Fuyten's technique (I think that's the name - it's when people revise by explaining the concepts to other people) and while they do that, they could be helping someone who may not be as academically gifted as they are - essentially, mutually beneficial.

Teachers don't monitor progress as a whole, they do it on an individual basis so they can focus on certain people to help them - this is in mixed ability additional GCSE subjects.

Tiered subjects like maths and science definitely should be in sets so the teachers don't have to teach some people content they don't need to know and because it's tiered, you can't exactly have a foundation tier student in the same class as a higher tier student.

MFL as well imo (as in people doing higher tier shouldn't be in the same class as people doing foundation tier).
English Language, MFL (only because it has tiers), Science and Maths, other than that, no.
Original post by justlearning1469
I'd say there should be a few sets per subject, maybe more depending on the number of students. My general idea for setting:

Set 1 (Above and beyond set): Top 2% in ability, these gifted individuals may start needing significant educational adjustment. A lot of enrichment or even moving up a year in a specific subject. High intellect should also be used to select, to see those who can actually keep up.

Set 2 (relatively bright set): Top 10%, they are relatively bright, could continue the subject, into decent universities etc. and put more enrichment.

Set 3 (above average set): Top 25%, they're above average though not that bright. Some enrichment/extension.

Set 4 (average set): Top 75%, most people anyway.

Set 5 (below average set): Bottom 25%, they probably won't continue this subject anyway at A-level or beyond.

Set 6 (foundation set): Bottom 10%, they aren't too skilled to the point... a foundation may be all they can get away with.

Set 7 (if they can even grasp much): Bottom 2%, they are so bad at the subject, it's going to be very difficult to teach them. Significant intervention may be required at this level.

This idea of setting is a bit of a fantasy, and doesn't really represent what actually happens in the real world. It also strongly suggests that 'enrichment' is only for those at the top of the ability spectrum, which is not how teaching works.

More to the point, your sets add up to 149% of the cohort... Even doing it cumulatively doesn't work. But even were we to use these proportions, from a practical point of view, you've got one set which has 75% of the cohort, and two sets with 2% of the cohort in it. So, for a subject like science at GCSE, with about 250 pupils per year group, you'd have one set with 188 pupils, and two sets with 5 pupils in them. Not really realistic...
Reply 10
Original post by Talkative Toad
I was in set 1 for Maths and Science at one point and I can definitely tell you that I wasn't top 2% ability (simply did no revision for every Maths exam (including the real exam) and got a grade 5, for Science my school was probably blind when they thought that me being in set 1 science was a good idea).




Yeah, one of the issues with sets is that they are not always accurate. In my set 1 classes there are always people who are not confident on the content, and then the lessons over expand, because set 1 is expected to know more than required . Also the good behaviour high set thing is a myth, people in my set 1 chat and misbehave just like other sets. Behaviour is a bit better but high sets do not mean good behaviour. Some people are naturally smart and can get through exams without revising or listening in class. Teaching us the most challenging content sometimes makes us listen but mostly we just goof around with mostly no damage done.
Original post by Moonlight:)
Yeah, one of the issues with sets is that they are not always accurate. In my set 1 classes there are always people who are not confident on the content, and then the lessons over expand, because set 1 is expected to know more than required . Also the good behaviour high set thing is a myth, people in my set 1 chat and misbehave just like other sets. Behaviour is a bit better but high sets do not mean good behaviour. Some people are naturally smart and can get through exams without revising or listening in class. Teaching us the most challenging content sometimes makes us listen but mostly we just goof around with mostly no damage done.

Yeah, you reminded me of my set 2 maths class in Y9, chaos at times (stuff thrown across the room), teacher ended up quitting over it (they admitted this to me, so I'm not making this up).
Reply 12
Original post by Reality Check
This idea of setting is a bit of a fantasy, and doesn't really represent what actually happens in the real world. It also strongly suggests that 'enrichment' is only for those at the top of the ability spectrum, which is not how teaching works.

More to the point, your sets add up to 149% of the cohort... Even doing it cumulatively doesn't work. But even were we to use these proportions, from a practical point of view, you've got one set which has 75% of the cohort, and two sets with 2% of the cohort in it. So, for a subject like science at GCSE, with about 250 pupils per year group, you'd have one set with 188 pupils, and two sets with 5 pupils in them. Not really realistic...

Yeah, i see what you are saying, my year has a more realistic system. So from year 7 till 9 you are placed on aA side or B side and then you are put in sets. Geography, History, the Sciences, English, Maths, P.E and RST are set. Everything else is mixed ability. You get set by SAT’s and also a test similar to Grammar school entrance tests ( with shape patterns and things like that ). Sets change every term after Sumative assessments Each class has thirty people and there are 7 sets, for a side and b side. The Sets arn’t full proof but they work, there is a better quality education in the set lessons. Mathematically roughly 14.3 % of pupils end up in set 1 classes i think.
(edited 11 months ago)
Reply 13
Original post by Talkative Toad
Yeah, you reminded me of my set 2 maths class in Y9, chaos at times (stuff thrown across the room), teacher ended up quitting over it (they admitted this to me, so I'm not making this up).

Our teacher is actually decent, he is fun and lets us goof around to a certain extent. He does tries to stop us, but he knows if he shouts it will just make things worse. It is a shame your teacher quit but all kids can be brutal (high sets or not).
Original post by Moonlight:)
Our teacher is actually decent, he is fun and lets us goof around to a certain extent. He does tries to stop us, but he knows if he shouts it will just make things worse. It is a shame your teacher quit but all kids can be brutal (high sets or not).

true
Original post by JA03
I understand what you're saying. This is why in core subjects, they're tiered (except English but most schools do them in sets). However, for additional subjects such as business, languages, etc - some schools have a system where they give their students options based off their progress in school. For example my school gave us options based off our SATs (ridiculous if you ask me but yk) so I, someone who was fairly intelligent at GCSE, got given the option to only do the GCSE options (no BTECs) and I had to pick a language as well as a humanity at least while others who may not be more academically gifted got the chance to pick EITHER a language or a humanity alongside BTEC options. My school did this to ensure that students of a 'similar' intelligence would be grouped together.

And having mixed ability can be good. Some students revise using Fuyten's technique (I think that's the name - it's when people revise by explaining the concepts to other people) and while they do that, they could be helping someone who may not be as academically gifted as they are - essentially, mutually beneficial.

Teachers don't monitor progress as a whole, they do it on an individual basis so they can focus on certain people to help them - this is in mixed ability additional GCSE subjects.

Tiered subjects like maths and science definitely should be in sets so the teachers don't have to teach some people content they don't need to know and because it's tiered, you can't exactly have a foundation tier student in the same class as a higher tier student.

Using SATs is quite ridiculous. They should've used MidYIS and Yellis tests instead. But to be fair, there still is some correlation. Relative intellectual ability usually doesn't change drastically (unless you had severe brain damage). It could change, perhaps a few or several IQ points, depending on your environment. Although there is the Flynn Effect to consider...

Fuyten's technique is still good... although even that has a limit. Dean Keith Simonton suggests an IQ communication range of 15 for intellectual peers. Leta Hollingworth suggests 30 IQ (although the ends turn into a mentor/student relationship). So for that kid with 140 IQ... even if that kid tries to mentor someone... the 140 IQ kid would be limited.

Agreed, although with a bigger mix of abilities it becomes more difficult.

Yes I agree with that, although there may be sets within those tiers.

@JA03
Original post by Talkative Toad
I was in set 1 for Maths and Science at one point and I can definitely tell you that I wasn't top 2% ability (simply did no revision for every Maths exam (including the real exam) and got a grade 5, for Science my school was probably blind when they thought that me being in set 1 science was a good idea).



Yes, but I'm not sayign that applies to you.

What I suggested was a general idea of setting. @Talkative Toad
Original post by Talkative Toad
English Language, MFL (only because it has tiers), Science and Maths, other than that, no.

I'd include additional subjects.

Original post by Reality Check
This idea of setting is a bit of a fantasy, and doesn't really represent what actually happens in the real world. It also strongly suggests that 'enrichment' is only for those at the top of the ability spectrum, which is not how teaching works.

More to the point, your sets add up to 149% of the cohort... Even doing it cumulatively doesn't work. But even were we to use these proportions, from a practical point of view, you've got one set which has 75% of the cohort, and two sets with 2% of the cohort in it. So, for a subject like science at GCSE, with about 250 pupils per year group, you'd have one set with 188 pupils, and two sets with 5 pupils in them. Not really realistic...

How, specifically? To be fair, when the curriculum is not enough, differentiation can be used.

I made a huge oversight. Here's my updated list of sets (like general ability ranges)

Set 1 (above and beyond): 2 SD above average, about top 2%. They're the intellectually gifted in a subject, perhaps capable of going quite far (PhD if they work hard enough). 2SD + is when you start seeing research scientists etc. in subjects and that's what you expect them to score. They need significant educational adjustments (which is why many gifted programs/high IQ societies start at 2 SD above average, or 130 IQ). There may be one or a couple students, specifically taught by a teacher who is decent/specialist in GT education. Many intellectually gifted students here.
Set 2 (superior): Top 2-10%. Relatively bright, need a significant amount of differentiation, although significant educational adjustment because of talent isn't necessary at this level.
Set 3 (high average): Top 10-25%. Better than average, they could get into HE.
Set 4 (Above the mean): Top 25-50%, they could continue the subject though it'll be tough.
Set 5 (Below the mean): Bottom 25-50%, well they're average, plain and simple, though a bit below.
Set 6 (low average): Bottom 10-25%, they won't continue it.
Set 7 (foundation): Bottom 2-10%, all you could achieve is the basics, in that subject.
Set 8 (you need special help for basics): Bottom 2%, you need special help just to get to basics. Many intellectuallly disabled students lie here.

You can make additional sets for the top 25-50% and bottom 25-50% since there'd be many people there.

The reason for my percentages is to align with the WISC V score ranges https://www.child-psychologist.com.au/wechsler-intelligence-scale-for-children.html (but subdividing the average as the average is too big)
Additionally, these sets are more for general ability ranges. The reason for these percentages, is that various full IQ tests (like WISC V) have an error of +/- 5 points for the 70-130 range (more as the IQ gets higher/lower than that).
For example, if there were 2 tests, one got 115 and one got 125... I'd start questioning whether it's the same person. But if it's 113 and 115, it's well within measurement error.

That's why, if you put these % to IQ... it's about ten-point bands.

For the intellectually gifted and disabled, they're far enough from the mean that they deserve specialised attention. Hence one can say, for 250 kids, having two sets of ~5 each is justified.
Intellectual peers are just as important as age peers, if not more so. Using Dean Keith Simonton's IQ communication range, it also justifies this.

I think it can be realistic, if you have enough specialist teachers (whether in teaching GT/intellectually disabled kids)
(edited 11 months ago)
Original post by Moonlight:)
Yeah, one of the issues with sets is that they are not always accurate. In my set 1 classes there are always people who are not confident on the content, and then the lessons over expand, because set 1 is expected to know more than required . Also the good behaviour high set thing is a myth, people in my set 1 chat and misbehave just like other sets. Behaviour is a bit better but high sets do not mean good behaviour. Some people are naturally smart and can get through exams without revising or listening in class. Teaching us the most challenging content sometimes makes us listen but mostly we just goof around with mostly no damage done.

Tests are not always accurate as well. The WISC V (full range IQ test) has an error of +/- 5 points in most cases, in clinical conditions, anyways.

You said "good behavior high set thing is a myth" but also say "Behaviour is a bit better". Well... it's plausible there is a small correlation, we can't rule this out.

For an intellectually gifted student, quite often if they get challenging content (or even content ahead) their behavior problems decrease (although some may still remain, for example 2e students)

And for some gifted students, even the challenging content of that year is still not that challenging. In that case more extreme measures are used, for example moving up a year, or even going to university early. @Moonlight [s]smile[/s]
Original post by Talkative Toad
Yeah, you reminded me of my set 2 maths class in Y9, chaos at times (stuff thrown across the room), teacher ended up quitting over it (they admitted this to me, so I'm not making this up).

Thanks for the personal anecdote
[quote=Moonlight[excludedFace]smile[/excludedFace];98207730]Yeah, i see what you are saying, my year has a more realistic system. So from year 7 till 9 you are placed on aA side or B side and then you are put in sets. Geography, History, the Sciences, English, Maths, P.E and RST are set. Everything else is mixed ability. You get set by SAT’s and also a test similar to Grammar school entrance tests ( with shape patterns and things like that ). Sets change every term after Sumative assessments Each class has thirty people and there are 7 sets, for a side and b side. The Sets arn’t full proof but they work, there is a better quality education in the set lessons. Mathematically roughly 14.3 % of pupils end up in set 1 classes i think.
The problem, for those grammar school entrance test is that it still somewhat relies on curriculum. And for "shape patterns" that is just visual-spatial intelligence.

Ideally, I'd say also have a full-scale IQ test (WISC V/SB 5) to test for many types of intelligence, and potentially show LDs etc.

14.3% of pupils, so the relatively bright pupils. I prefer a system like my setting, which I've talked about earlier. With the gifted, superior, high average, average (above and below mean), low average, foundation and special attention set.
[quote=Moonlight[excludedFace]smile[/excludedFace];98207747]Our teacher is actually decent, he is fun and lets us goof around to a certain extent. He does tries to stop us, but he knows if he shouts it will just make things worse. It is a shame your teacher quit but all kids can be brutal (high sets or not).
I agree although I disagree with "all kids can be brutal". Many kids can be brutal, many are not. Some are genuinely pretty nice, while some genuinely need mental help, so to speak.
Reply 17
Original post by justlearning1469
Tests are not always accurate as well. The WISC V (full range IQ test) has an error of +/- 5 points in most cases, in clinical conditions, anyways.

You said "good behavior high set thing is a myth" but also say "Behaviour is a bit better". Well... it's plausible there is a small correlation, we can't rule this out.

For an intellectually gifted student, quite often if they get challenging content (or even content ahead) their behavior problems decrease (although some may still remain, for example 2e students)

And for some gifted students, even the challenging content of that year is still not that challenging. In that case more extreme measures are used, for example moving up a year, or even going to university early. @Moonlight [s]smile[/s]

Thanks for the personal anecdote

The problem, for those grammar school entrance test is that it still somewhat relies on curriculum. And for "shape patterns" that is just visual-spatial intelligence.

Ideally, I'd say also have a full-scale IQ test (WISC V/SB 5) to test for many types of intelligence, and potentially show LDs etc.

14.3% of pupils, so the relatively bright pupils. I prefer a system like my setting, which I've talked about earlier. With the gifted, superior, high average, average (above and below mean), low average, foundation and special attention set.

I agree although I disagree with "all kids can be brutal". Many kids can be brutal, many are not. Some are genuinely pretty nice, while some genuinely need mental help, so to speak.

Yeah, I guess me statement is a bit generalised, hope I didn’t offend anyone… :frown: My set 1 class is usually nice but when we get a Substitute we act like a completely different class. What I was trying to say is that intelligence doesn’t usually effect behaviour that much.
(edited 11 months ago)
Original post by Moonlight:)
Yeah, I guess me statement is a bit generalised, hope I didn’t offend anyone… :frown: My set 1 class is usually nice but when we get a Substitute we act like a completely different class. What I was trying to say is that intelligence doesn’t usually effect behaviour that much.

No problem, just remember that you can't paint kids with a broad brush. Some kids are genuinely very easy-going and nice, while some others (for example those with BPD) are absolutely horrifying.

Other than that, I agree mostly.

BTW, what do you think about my setting ideas? @Moonlight [s]smile[/s]
Reply 19
Original post by justlearning1469
No problem, just remember that you can't paint kids with a broad brush. Some kids are genuinely very easy-going and nice, while some others (for example those with BPD) are absolutely horrifying.

Other than that, I agree mostly.

BTW, what do you think about my setting ideas? @Moonlight [s]smile[/s]

I think your setting ideas are really good! I get what you mean when different people need different catered learning. My school decided to stop setting languages, which is not great as it means that all of the German I learn in school is quite easy for me. I even started using Duolingo so I could advance my knowledge at a more accelerated pace. My school decided to minimalise setting as students use them as an excuse to limit themselves. I get this but I enjoy set lessons a lot more. I feel like I am being fully challenged and my learning is being catered. Sets allow people no matter what IQ to learn at their own pace. I hope in the future schools use a system like this and I think I could be possible with the right teachers. This is a really good and well thought out solution. :rofl3:
(edited 11 months ago)

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