Standards have been raised by setting

25th December 1998 at 00:00
According to the National Foundation for Educational Research (TES December 4) "streaming and setting have had no overall impact on pupil achievement".

While I would not wish to speak up for streaming, let me tell you about the impact setting has had on pupil achievement in my school.

Like many schools, we have been responding over the past two years to the need to enter pupils for different tiers in examination papers, and have moved from mixed ability to settled groups on some subjects.

Our top sets in French and German have yielded A*s, As and Bs, when previously in mixed-ability groups there were very few.

Our two top sets in English language have taken the examination successfully a year early, giving opportunity for an additional GCSE in media studies to be taken. Our mathematics results at key stage 3 have included many more higher levels than in the past. In addition, "setting" has given opportunity for historygeography and humanities to be taken instead of humanities only, and physics, chemistry and biology to be taken as separate subjects rather than as double science.

We believe all this provides a firmer base for our pupils to continue their studies in the sixth form, and our GCSE results this year gave us an average point score of 43 in place of the expected 34 points that our key stage 3 levels in 1996 would have predicted.

At the other end of the scale, we have been working hard to improve literacy levels during the intake year through a summer literacy school which is followed up with small English, maths and science sets enabling intensive help to be given with basic skills to less able pupils.

I believe that setting has been of considerable benefit to a range of pupils and am very surprised at the NFER research conclusions.

Dr Moyra Evans, Denbigh School, Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes

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