At St Mary’s we believe that all children are unique, with their own God-given gifts and talents. We know that different children have different strengths and, for this reason, the children are placed into mixed-ability form groups and then set according to their ability in each subject. In subjects such as Maths, English, Science, and Modern Foreign Languages, the setting will be done according to ability in each subject. This is flexible and movement between sets will happen regularly as learning progresses. Increasing use is made of grouping by ability as students move through Key Stage 3. We firmly believe that this system is the fairest for all students and ensures that children are happy and achieve their best. This system has led to record levels of achievement at each Key Stage over the last five years.

Year 7 

  • The year group is split into two equally sized populations of equal ability – A and B 
  • Each band is then sub-divided into 4 form classes (SAIN and TMRY) 
  • For English and MFL, the students are set from the start of the academic year (the sets are the same) 
  • For Science and Maths, the students are set from the start of the academic year (the sets are the same)  
  • Students have completed CATs baseline testing during their last half term in primary school or during the transition days at St Mary’s – this information combined with KS2 data and transition data from the primary schools is used to set the students 
  • Design & Technology is taught in smaller mixed-ability groups 
  • All other subjects will be taught in mixed ability tutor groups across two bands 
  • Approximately 50% of their time is taught in sets, the rest in mixed ability form groups 

Year 8 

  • Year 8 continue in the same populations as Year 7 
  • Geography is now included in the Maths and Science sets (the sets are the same) 
  • RE and History are also now included in the English and MFL sets (the sets are the same) 
  • Design & Technology continues to be taught in smaller mixed-ability groups 
  • All other subjects will be taught in mixed ability tutor groups across two bands 
  • Approximately 70% of their time is now taught in sets, the rest in mixed ability form groups 

Year 9 

  • Year 9 continue in the same populations as Year 8 
  • English, RE and History continue in the same sets 
  • Maths, Science and Geography continue in the same sets 
  • Students are now able to choose to focus on one language to  further deepen their knowledge and understanding*
  • Design & Technology continues to be taught in smaller mixed-ability groups 
  • All other subjects will be taught in mixed ability tutor groups across two bands 
  • Approximately 70% of their time is now taught in sets, the rest in mixed ability form groups 

* For those students who wish to continue to study two languages, we offer an additional after-school session


Year Ten 

  • The year group now moves to three ability bands for RE, English, Maths, Science and PE – S (upper), T (middle) and M (lower) 
  • Students continue to be taught in sets within each band for the core subjects 
  • Students are guided over the course of the year to choose three options from different pathways linked to their ability band: 
    • The vast majority of students study 1 modern foreign language, 1 humanities subject and have a further free choice from the GCSE suite of subjects, including Triple Science and this route culminates in 9 GCSEs 
    • A smaller cohort of students study 1 modern foreign language or 1 humanities subject and have a further two free choices from a suite of GCSE and vocational subjects, culminating in 9 GCSEs 

Year Eleven 

  • This curriculum will roll forward with the same approach as in Year Ten (outlined above)

Sixth Form 

  • Each year group is split into five or six equally able form classes (SAINTM) depending on the size of the cohort
  • Students are taught in these mixed ability groups for the core curriculum 
  • The vast majority of students starting Year 12 enrol on 3 A Levels from 4 option blocks, with a small group of the most able opting for 4 A Levels  
  • The most able are being encouraged to study an Extended Project Qualification or a Thinking Skills AS Level alongside their 3 A Levels