Students are grouped in such a way that their individual needs are supported and they are appropriately challenged.


These are our beliefs when creating groups:

  • We use a combination of strict-ability setting, broad banding and mixed-ability setting depending on the subject and the needs of our students
  • ‘Bottom sets’ can support the weakest students but they can also demotivate students
  • Strict setting should only be used when we know our students well enough
  • The composition of each group needs to support students’ academic ability as well as their attitude to learning
  • Students should have regular opportunities to move up or down groups if their work warrants it
  • Although the pace and depth of work in each group may be different, all students should have equal access to the breadth of subject content
  • Although it’s not always possible, we endeavour to timetable one teacher per group for consistency

All students in years 7-11 are placed into one of two populations (X or Y).  This is only done to help us create an efficient timetable; there is no material difference to the two populations.

We have a three-step approach to assigning students to groups in year 7:

  1. In September, students are initially grouped into upper and lower bands using test and teacher assessments from primary school
  2. During the second half-term, we review students’ work for the first half-term, take into account reading age and information from Cognitive Ability Tests (CATs), and refine who’s in which group and whether we have the right number of upper and lower groups
  3. At the end of the Spring and Summer terms we review the groups again and make tweaks if necessary

In years 7 and 8 some subjects are grouped together: mathematics, science and computing have the same groupings and English, languages and the humanities (history, geography and religious educations) and the same groupings. Having separate groups for every subject would create an impossible timetable that would result in some groups having more than one teacher which can hinder student progress. 

We label groups by their population and their ability rank.  The ‘top set’ is labelled 1, and lower sets are labelled 2, 3, 4 etc.  Groups that are of roughly equal ability are labelled using letters.  Therefore, groups 7X2a and 7X2b would be roughly equal.  The following diagrams shows the hierarchy of sets in each year group:

Year 7 in September:

Year 07

Year 7 in October (creating more upper groups if required):

Year 07b

Year 8:
For the 2019/20 academic year we have completely changed how we structure our timetable in order to allow flexible movement shown above for year 7.  Therefore, year 8 will be structured in the same way as year 7 initially; the structure will be reviewed on a half-termly basis.

Year 9:
In Year 9 the X and Y populations have exactly the same number of groups.  Two make this work, students are reassigned populations at the end of year 8 to even out the two populations. 

Year 09

Years 10 and 11:
The grouping structures for years 10 and 11 are identical, as are the two populations. Option subjects are not grouped into populations but by the block of options they belong with eg 10A/Ar1 would be an art group in option block A.

Year 10

Years 12 and 13
All groups in years 12 and 13 are options and therefore are labelled by the subject’s block.  This is only one group of any subject in each block, therefore there is no setting in years 12 and 13.


All students, regardless of their prior attainment, are able to make progress.