KS3 & KS4 - allocation and setting arrangements

In KS3, the setting arrangements are as follows:

  • Key Stage 2 levels are used to initially decide Mathematics and English sets from September of year 7. Sets are then reviewed following initial baseline tests in Term 1 which includes assessments in Maths and English. 

  • Students are placed in the same sets for the majority of subjects including English, History, Philosophy & Belief, Geography, Science, Languages, PSHE, Art, IT and Music. These sets are determined primarily by their level of literacy.

  • Students are set separately in Maths based on their level of numeracy. Design Technology is mixed ability and operates a carousel to ensure each student experiences all aspects of Technology across the year. The groups used in Technology also apply to PE where students are grouped within two larger mixed ability bands.

  • Students can also move groups if they need more support or extension. This is determined by their performance in assessments. A broader set review usually takes place towards the end of the year when the majority of assessments have been completed.

  • In Year 8 and 9, students are placed in the same set for Science and Mathematics due to the additional numeracy requirements in Science.

In KS4, the setting arrangements are as follows:

  • Students’ Flightpath grades from KS3 are used to determine sets in core subjects (English, Maths and Science) with each subject setting separately based on students’ performance in assessments.

  • Students’ sets are reviewed following key assessments throughout the course, including mock exams at the end of Year 10.

  • All Options subjects are taught in mixed ability groups.

  • Students are taught in the same groups for Ethics as they are in English.

  • Core PE is taught in broad mixed ability bands.


Changes coming up to grading systems at KS4

Over the next years, the Department for Education is introducing changes to the grading of exams at KS4. They are swapping the A* - G at GCSE, and the Distinction*- Pass in BTECs, with a number from 1 to 9. Students sitting their Maths and English exams in 2017 will be graded from 1-9, other subjects will be graded from 1-9 for those sitting exams from 2018 onwards. As more details emerge, we will keep you informed.

Progress 8: The new school measure
The new measure that the Department for Education will use to judge the success of schools is called the Progress 8. This will replace the present measure which looks at how many students get a C or above. Instead, the Progress 8 will track how much progress students make from KS2 to their results at the end of Y11.This will not affect how the students are taught or which topics they cover in their exams. However, it will mean that schools will need to ensure that all students are making progress, rather than just focus on those at the D/C border line. At Somervale School we have always looked at the ‘value added’ to each student, rather than whether they have just achieved a C. We are pleased to welcome a government measure that allows us to continue with this best practice, and focus on the needs of each student, not just those of certain ability.

The Progress 8 will be used to report results in 2016.

The EBACC: Valuing the academic, and encouraging the vocational
Since the introduction of the English baccalaureate in 2010, there has been an increased focus on ‘facilitating’ subjects such as History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages and computing, as well as the Core subjects of English, Maths and Science. These are seen as ‘facilitating’ as they are recognised by colleges, universities and employers as robust courses which help reflect the ability of the student. Students who take a range of these courses have a wider range of colleges and universities who are interested in offering them places.At Somervale School, academic qualifications have always been highly valued, alongside subjects which prepare students for vocational courses and careers. The EBACC and the Progress 8 now encourage all schools to offer a curriculum similar to the one we have successfully offered over the past decade.

KS4 & Options

Guided Choices at KS4 for Year 9 into Year 10

In Y9, students start to consider their future GCSE choices for Y10 including which options subjects they would like to take going forward. Students are given information and opportunities to consider their choices during tutor time and in their PSHE lessons from September.

In December, students and their parents / carers receive access to online Guided Choices information, via the Options Website, which provides comprehensive details on all the courses available, including core subjects as well those they can opt to take for their GCSEs. In order to access the Options Website, parents and students will need to login with their child's Somervale School email address / login.

An Online Google Option Form will be released at the start of January, and emailed to all students so they can state their preferred options. ​The deadline for completing the Options Form will be towards the end of January. To help students make decisions about their preferred options, students will have the opportunity to attend Options Evening in January. This will allow students to find out more about each option subject and ask relevant subject teachers any questions they may have. Parents will also receive a report on student progress which will be followed by Year 9 Parents’ Evening where parents / students can receive more detailed information about how they are progressing in each subject.



We have developed the options process into three clear pathways. These pathways are part of a careers programme that engage students in considering future education and careers, based on their present attainment and future aspirations. They also allow students to access appropriate subjects, and provide recommendations on which may best suit students aspirations and present attainment across the curriculum.

All students continue with the CORE subjects of English Language, English Literature, Science, Maths, as well as non examined subjects of PE and Ethics (which includes both P&B and PSHE programmes of study).

Pathway 1
The first pathway caters for students where careful choices of subjects will mean they are best supported:

  • They do not study a Language, but have a choice of 3 subjects that suit them better.

  • They still choose one subject from History or Geography.

Pathway 2
This pathway caters for students who may decide to take the challenge of a Modern Foreign Language, or continue with a wider range of subjects:

  • Students choose between Geography and History (but can also take both)

  • Students can opt to take a Modern Foreign Language (Spanish or French or both)

  • If they decide to take a Language, they will have a range of choices like Pathway 3.

  • Students have 3 further choices - which may include a further Humanities subject

Pathway 3
This pathway caters for students who have already attained highly in a broad range of academic subjects. Taking Languages and a Humanities will place them with the top students nationally, in terms of achievement in more academic subjects.

Students have access to all subjects, although they are encouraged to consider taking a wider range of academic subjects such as both Humanities.

  • Students automatically take a Modern Foreign Language (Spanish or French or both)

  • Students choose between Geography and History

  • Students have 2 further choices