'Streaming' Of Pupils at Secondary Schools

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Damien Shannon

Dear Department for Education,

I would like to know the proportion of English Comprehensive schools that utilise some method of 'streamlining' their pupils at some point in their journey through secondary schooling.

By 'streamlining' I mean, those that separate the students into classes grouped by ability, and teached to the perceived aptitude of each 'group'.

I would like these numbers both in terms of the quantity of schools and what percentage of English schools this represents.

Yours faithfully,

Damien Shannon

Department for Education

Dear Mr Shannon

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible. For information, the departmental standard for correspondence
received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you
are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2010/0058447

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288

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Department for Education

Dear Mr Shannon,

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 24 July
2010. You requested the proportion of English Comprehensive schools that
utilise some method of 'streamlining' their pupils at some point in their
journey through secondary schooling.

Whilst we do not use the terminology "streamlining", I thought it would be
helpful to outline two different pupil grouping practices which are
relevant to your definition of streamlining. Setting refers to the
practice in which pupils are grouped according to their ability in a
particular subject. This means that they may be in higher or lower sets
and with different peers in each subject. Streaming refers to the
practice in which pupils are assigned to classes on the basis of overall
assessment of their general ability, usually based on prior attainment or
outcomes of cognitive or other tests. Pupils remain in their streamed
classes for the majority of subjects. In consideration of your request I
have included both these practices.

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I have investigated and have established that the information you
requested is not routinely collected or held by this Department.

We do however have some information from Ofsted on setting which is
outlined below:

Figures from Ofsted for 2003/04 showed that at Key Stage 3, 82% of maths
lessons were set, 61% in science, 56% in modern foreign languages, and 48%
in English. After September 2005, a much smaller number of lessons were
observed than under the previous arrangements; and as the lessons observed
are not necessarily representative of the pupil grouping in the school as
a whole, it is not possible to compile similar figures for more recent
Of about 18,400 classroom observations conducted by Ofsted inspectors in
secondary schools last year (2008/09), roughly only four in ten
represented set lessons:
a. at primary, in the region of 11% of English/English Literature lessons
were set, 20% of mathematics lessons and 3% science lessons.
b. at secondary, this data suggests that around 53%, 70% and 60% of
lessons are set for English, mathematics and science respectively.
These figures however are not based on a representative sample and should
not be used to make comparisons across years.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner's Office.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Whetter
Progression and Personalisation
[email address]

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2010/0058447.

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Dear Helen,

Thank you for providing the information you had available. Whilst not exhaustive, it is indicative enough for the purposes for which I required the information.

Thank you again

Yours faithfully,

Damien Shannon

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