The main concern with mixed abilitygrouping is teacher’s find it difficult to teach effectively. Most teachersfind it easier to teach students that are similar ability. Ofsted report pointtoward 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 toassessment information and having limited amount of knowledge of the differentabilities in their classes. For instance, every student has different method oflearning however, students in different sets are expected to do the same amountof work but in mixed ability classes, teaches only teach within the abilityrange.
“All children are born with potential and we cannot be sure of thelearning limits of any child” (Robert Fisher, 2001, p.1). When mixed abilitywas new teachers, teaches who had experience in that areas tended to holdfavourable attitudes. Now let’s move onto the advantages ofmixed ability grouping this educational practice promotes higher educationstandards for all pupils it gives all abilities an opportunity to access ahigh-level of learning. Children being in mixed ability groups can benefit themin so many ways for example; mixed ability grouping as social benefits that isvery important for student’s development as well. Individuals social benefitsare recognised by developing intellectual intimacy. Intellectual intimacy meanswhen people share different ideas and create something original and enjoyingthe process along the way, children being in different group and mixed withdifferent abilities it can benefit them because they are learning from eachother, exploring different ideas, and its creating that process of workingcollaboratively together it also improves students’ self-esteem. Low abilitystudents will feel less stigmatised this could give them the motivation tolearn.
“(Towns, Kreke, and Fields 2000) identified benefits that can improve attitudetowards peers, academic achievement and develop sense of community within theclassroom”. (Heltemes,2009, p7) It also breaks that barrier of being isolated and lonely withinclassrooms. Integrating with other people can be achieved through engaging withgroup tasks and activities. According to (Harlem & Malcolm, 1999) grouping studentsinto different groups base on their ability isn’t only common in the UK,Australia and North America also use this practice.
Abilitygrouping is a system where pupils are separated into small groups or classesaccording to each student’s ability or pervious achievements. There aredifferent types of ability grouping; streaming which looks at each student’sgeneral ability by completing a series of tests, within-class grouping thismethod involves separating pupils into small groups and instructing each groupseparately and mixed ability grouping is an approach teaching pupils in thesame classroom even though their abilities are different. (Sukhnandan and Lee,1998, p2-4) Between 1960s and1970s researchers in UK highlighted that streaming in secondary schools was noteffective and there was no evidence relating to the benefits of streaming onstudents’ attainment but the research has outlined varies negative effects ofstreaming, the research mainly looked at education opportunity and achievements.This indicates that this practice can result to students being unmotivated towardstheir learning and it could lead to anti-schooling attitudes. (Ireson andHallam, 2002, p6) suggests that “several in depth studies of individual schoolsdemonstrated that streaming could lead to anti-school attitudes and alienationfrom school.
” During this time there has been a major fall in the use ofability grouping and more increase on mixed ability grouping. (Ireson, 2016)suggest “The majority of schools use some form of ability grouping in at leastsome subjects, although only a very small proportion use streaming.””The extent of selection and ability grouping in UnitedKingdom schools fluctuated during the twentieth century” (Ireson and Hallam,2002, p2). Selection and streaming were the most common practice in mid-centurybut yet declined quickly, so around 1980s several local education authoritiesstopped selection and most schools had abolished streaming. However, towardsthe end of the century ability grouping appeared to become more popular acrossschools once again. Grouping by pupil’sability in schools were introduced in UK after the Primary School Report (theHadow Report, Board of Education, 1930) it continued into the 1960s.
Groupingpupils by their general ability became more common “so that at the time of the1944 Education Act it was becoming the standard form of organisation in largeprimary schools and in secondary schools” (Ireson and Hallam, 2002, p5). By theend of 1950s the quality of the streaming process was questioned and howreapply it could be during this time it became less popular within primaryschools it caused pupils to have low-esteem especially those in a low streaminggroups and it created a division between pupils within the classroom. Thisindicates that during this time the streaming process was not effective andthere was no evidence in raising attainment. Primary schools used (The PlowdenReport 1967) has a guide for a clear encouragement of ‘unstreaming’ abolishingthe 11+ examination and the aims to provide equity of opportunity has alsocontributed 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.
Theacademic skills and abilities among pupils has affected both teachers andschool directors. Within classrooms the average student may find the class workto be challenging enough but students who are slow learners may find itdifficulty and may require more time. The government commitment outlined toraise achievement for all students in school was highlighted in (Every Child Matters: change for children inschools,DfE, 2004). This essay will manly focus on the impacts of abilitygrouping and mixed ability and what effects it has in terms of education andachievements, looking at the historical context, discussing the issues relatingto ability grouping we will also look at political and government views ofability grouping.