Upon entering the college in Year 7, students are placed into sets using CAT scores, data from previous schools, the entrance test scores and the English assessment which occurs in the first two weeks of term. In other years, students are placed according to the entrance test and CAT scores.
The work, assessment policies and units across all sets is the same – being in a higher set does not affect achievement. The difference between the sets is in the amount of help given to students and the ways in which they are guided to improve standards and reach targets.
All evidence is regularly reviewed by HOD and English teachers and adjustments are made when appropriate. It is worth bearing in mind that the standard of ability and achievement in the college is very high; thus, a Set 3 or 4 is likely to contain students of high ability.
All students are able to achieve Level 8 at Key stage 3 and A/A* at GCSE regardless of their set. The same units and examination syllabuses are taught to all.
- Peer/self assessment is used so that students become familiar with a range of standards and levels. This is in line with current UK practice although, in fact, it has been in place in the English department in the college since 2000.
- There is individual reporting back and class discussion regarding strengths and weaknesses.
- Work is submitted and teacher assessment is made according to the National Curriculum for England level criteria. The achievement grades/levels are determined at this point.
- At the point of returning the work, oral feedback is given, by the teacher. Students are made aware of specific targets and these are recorded in the evidence folder. Questions, misunderstandings and concerns may be raised. The process may take up to the duration of a one hour lesson, depending on the standard of the submissions and the depth of feedback required.
- The assessment process informs follow up lessons with regard to grammar skills, structure and knowledge.
- Work, assessment sheets and details of targets are kept in folders and are reviewed every half-term by English staff. These remain in the English classrooms and are accessible to the student concerned and to the Head of Department.
- Assessment grades are kept centrally and reviewed regularly by the Head of Department.
The following criteria are generally used to determine effort grades:
- Homework: quality and meeting deadlines
- Organisation of equipment and books
- Participation in the lesson
- Following instructions and department practices
- Behaviour and attitude
- Improvement in quality of work and learning from mistakes
- Appearance and following of school rules
- Interest and dedication
How May Parents Help?
- Check that the homework is completed to a good, neat, detailed standard.
- Encourage thorough checking and redrafting to raise the standard of homework.
- Ensure that homework is brought to school on the correct day.
- Help with organisation:
- Essays and detailed homework exercises are usually completed over a few days (often a weekend). When a student leaves work until the last minute, problems with printers may arise. It is far better to complete the work prior to the submission date so that the work may be brought into school on a thumb-drive and printed the day before.
- Homework may be hand-written in case of technological breakdown.
- Check the timetable and homework diary daily and ensure that the correct books and equipment are packed the night before.
- Provide the student with a solid, good quality folder for transporting homework and subject hand outs and worksheets.
- Become involved in the student's reading habits. There is no substitute for stretching reading to improve grammar skills and knowledge of vocabulary and structure.
- Encourage online grammar games and vocabulary exercises during free time.
- Do not allow the student to become worried about sets. Such attitudes may be counter-productive and demoralising.