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The main concern with mixed ability
grouping is teacher’s find it difficult to teach effectively. Most teachers
find it easier to teach students that are similar ability. Ofsted report point
toward that teachers find it difficult to match work to students’ attainments.
Even though setting can decrease this problem, this was also concluded from Boaler’s
(1997) research. Teachers are more likely to be inadequate when it comes to
assessment information and having limited amount of knowledge of the different
abilities in their classes. For instance, every student has different method of
learning however, students in different sets are expected to do the same amount
of work but in mixed ability classes, teaches only teach within the ability
range. “All children are born with potential and we cannot be sure of the
learning limits of any child” (Robert Fisher, 2001, p.1). When mixed ability
was new teachers, teaches who had experience in that areas tended to hold
favourable attitudes.

Now let’s move onto the advantages of
mixed ability grouping this educational practice promotes higher education
standards for all pupils it gives all abilities an opportunity to access a
high-level of learning. Children being in mixed ability groups can benefit them
in so many ways for example; mixed ability grouping as social benefits that is
very important for student’s development as well. Individuals social benefits
are recognised by developing intellectual intimacy. Intellectual intimacy means
when people share different ideas and create something original and enjoying
the process along the way, children being in different group and mixed with
different abilities it can benefit them because they are learning from each
other, exploring different ideas, and its creating that process of working
collaboratively together it also improves students’ self-esteem. Low ability
students will feel less stigmatised this could give them the motivation to
learn. “(Towns, Kreke, and Fields 2000) identified benefits that can improve attitude
towards peers, academic achievement and develop sense of community within the
classroom”. (Heltemes,
2009, p7) It also breaks that barrier of being isolated and lonely within
classrooms. Integrating with other people can be achieved through engaging with
group tasks and activities.

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According to (Harlem & Malcolm, 1999) grouping students
into different groups base on their ability isn’t only common in the UK,
Australia and North America also use this practice. Ability
grouping is a system where pupils are separated into small groups or classes
according to each student’s ability or pervious achievements. There are
different types of ability grouping; streaming which looks at each student’s
general ability by completing a series of tests, within-class grouping this
method involves separating pupils into small groups and instructing each group
separately and mixed ability grouping is an approach teaching pupils in the
same classroom even though their abilities are different. (Sukhnandan and Lee,
1998, p2-4)

  Between 1960s and
1970s researchers in UK highlighted that streaming in secondary schools was not
effective and there was no evidence relating to the benefits of streaming on
students’ attainment but the research has outlined varies negative effects of
streaming, the research mainly looked at education opportunity and achievements.
This indicates that this practice can result to students being unmotivated towards
their learning and it could lead to anti-schooling attitudes. (Ireson and
Hallam, 2002, p6) suggests that “several in depth studies of individual schools
demonstrated that streaming could lead to anti-school attitudes and alienation
from school.” During this time there has been a major fall in the use of
ability grouping and more increase on mixed ability grouping. (Ireson, 2016)
suggest “The majority of schools use some form of ability grouping in at least
some subjects, although only a very small proportion use streaming.”

“The extent of selection and ability grouping in United
Kingdom schools fluctuated during the twentieth century” (Ireson and Hallam,
2002, p2). Selection and streaming were the most common practice in mid-century
but yet declined quickly, so around 1980s several local education authorities
stopped selection and most schools had abolished streaming. However, towards
the end of the century ability grouping appeared to become more popular across
schools once again.  Grouping by pupil’s
ability in schools were introduced in UK after the Primary School Report (the
Hadow Report, Board of Education, 1930) it continued into the 1960s. Grouping
pupils by their general ability became more common “so that at the time of the
1944 Education Act it was becoming the standard form of organisation in large
primary schools and in secondary schools” (Ireson and Hallam, 2002, p5). By the
end of 1950s the quality of the streaming process was questioned and how
reapply it could be during this time it became less popular within primary
schools it caused pupils to have low-esteem especially those in a low streaming
groups and it created a division between pupils within the classroom. This
indicates that during this time the streaming process was not effective and
there was no evidence in raising attainment. Primary schools used (The Plowden
Report 1967) has a guide for a clear encouragement of ‘unstreaming’ abolishing
the 11+ examination and the aims to provide equity of opportunity has also
contributed to the reason why streaming was unpopular in primary schools.

When formal education was established,
ever since then the concerns of academic achievement was an issues. The
academic skills and abilities among pupils has affected both teachers and
school directors. Within classrooms the average student may find the class work
to be challenging enough but students who are slow learners may find it
difficulty and may require more time. The government commitment outlined to
raise achievement for all students in school was highlighted in (Every Child Matters: change for children in
schools,DfE, 2004). This essay will manly focus on the impacts of ability
grouping and mixed ability and what effects it has in terms of education and
achievements, looking at the historical context, discussing the issues relating
to ability grouping we will also look at political and government views of
ability grouping.

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