Grouping Strategy KS3 &4

How we group students

Morning Tutor Time (08.50 – 9.10 daily)

Years 7-11 vertical tutor groups: Students are placed in mixed ability, mixed age tutor groups, in which all the students are members of the same house.

For subject teaching

There are 2 main ways of grouping students for subject lessons at Chesterton Community College:

Sets: sets are groups where students of similar demonstrated ability are placed together for a particular subject. Detailed information on how we set students in different subjects appears later in the policy

Mixed ability groups: these are common in Years 10 and 11 in option subjects where students of different abilities are taught in the same groups.

Each year group at Chesterton is divided into two halves, the R and F halves. The R and F halves are mixed ability, meaning there are children of different abilities in both halves. Within the two halves, the teaching groups for each half are formed. In order to facilitate subject specialist teachers, some subjects are grouped together and sets are determined according to students achievement across those groups of subjects. An example of this is History, Geography and Religious Studies.

Principles of setting

The College decides which set students are placed in.
The College doesn’t refer to friendship groups when allocating students to teaching groups for different subjects.
Students are set according to demonstrated ability, i.e. their performance in that subject, or group of subjects, relative to the performance of other students *.
Ability is demonstrated in a number of ways and teachers take account of several measures of performance when determining sets. The most common measures used of demonstrated ability (not in any order of priority) are: prior attainment (e.g. KS2 performance); cognitive ability tests (CATs), written classwork; oral classwork; homework; other teacher assessments; common assessments (these are assessments that all students in a year group do in a subject for which they receive a grade).
Sets are communicated by a students’ timetable. Parents/Carers are informed of changes to sets.
When we review sets

Sets are reviewed once per year to ensure that students are placed in the set that best reflects their ability and performance. In exceptional circumstances during the year, based on demonstrated ability, a student could be moved sets if staff think this is appropriate. The senior line manager will be involved when this happens.

We review sets towards the end of the academic year. When we review sets, we look at performance indicators such as those mentioned above (e.g. common assessments) and there is in-depth discussion between teachers about students who are at the top and bottom end of each set. This would typically include an in depth look at students’ work. Where students have demonstrated very similar ability, attitude to learning and attendance may be taken into account. Students who are considered to be in the wrong set according to demonstrated ability, will be moved to the appropriate set at the end of the review process. Students and parents will be informed of any movement.

Student grouping by subjects:

Year 7

In Year 7 students are taught in ability sets in both halves for most subjects. Sets are:

(9-7p) / (9-7t) – Parallel first sets of equal ability




Years 8 and 9

In Years 8 and 9 students are taught in ability sets in both halves for most subjects. Sets are:






The numbers indicate the potential GCSE grades we believe students in these sets will achieve when they realise their potential in Year 11.

*The highest labelled set in year 7 is (9-7). Owing to the pandemic and the differing impact on our large number of feeder primary schools it is very difficult to ascertain on entry students with the potential to reach the very highest GCSE grades. In order to be as accurate as possible a grade (9-8) group will be formed at the end of year 7 (or earlier if the picture emerges sooner).

Some Exceptions at KS3

There is an extension set for Maths in Year 9.
Design Technology is mixed ability
Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 do Music, Drama and Art in their English groups. These groups are mixed ability by discipline and class names do not follow grade format.
Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 do Computer Science in their Maths groups
For Modern Languages students in year 7 are set at Christmas, until that point they are taught in their English sets.

Years 10-11


Year 10 & 11: R half: extension set, sets 1, 2, 3, 5. F half: extension set, sets, 1, 2, 3, 4.


Year 10 & 11: R half: sets 1, 2a, 2b, 4, 5. F half: sets 1, 2a, 2b, 4.


Year 10 & 11: R half: set 1 & 2 (Triple Science), sets 1, 2, 3, 4 (all Double Science) F half: set 1 & 2 (Triple Science), sets 1, 2, 3 (all Double Science).


Year 10 & 11: Set by English sets.

Option Courses

Year 10: Set by mixed ability where timetabling and capacity allows subjects may be set to allow for the most personalised teaching.

The grouping strategy laid out above may be tweaked to reflect differences in cohorts from year to year. If you have a query about your child’s setting please contact your child’s Head of House in the first instance.