Ability Grouping in Eduaction

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  • Good Idea? 9

    1. Maybe Revolutionarily brilliant! (1) 11%
    2. Pretty good, I think it'll help (5) 56%
    3. Might work, not sure (0) 0%
    4. I think it'll cause more problems than it'll solve (3) 33%
    5. This would be disastrous (0) 0%

    I'm interested in what you guys as parents (and I believe there are a few teachers out there) think about this idea. I'm thinking about writing to my MP, maybe the Eduaction Secretary and her shadow to find out what they think. I think I remember seeing a news report about something similar being tried out in the UK but I can't remember enough details to find it on the internet:


  • It is a subject that my mind is spending some time evaluating at the moment for my own selfish reasons. I would struggle to come up with a definitive statement as of now but would be interested in others opinions myself. Any particular reasons yourself RW ?

  • ooh tricky one...having been in a group of 5 bright sparks amongst an entire year group of average and thugs...it was hell......but life aint fair...you have to and learn how mix with different abilities..i think ability grouping within certain year groups is the safest route at the mo'...the teaching staff can see on a monthly basis who is struggling or achieving more and asign kids to the correct ability groups.

    children who come from more deprived backgrounds or homes where education isn't seem as important would be held back for too long using your method..intelligence soon shines through regardless of class or family background...the current system works best.

  • dont think that would work pratically,wud be a timetabling nightmare in most schools.Your post seems to suggest that kids have the same level of ability across all their subjects-where would you group a child who was advanced at maths but behind in english or vice versa?

  • my son was always pretty bright at school and when he was about 12 he got moved up a year, so i'm all in favour of moving kids around to help them make the best of their abilities.

    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine - Abraham Lincoln

  • Quote from ZZZZZ

    my son was always pretty bright at school and when he was about 12 he got moved up a year, so i'm all in favour of moving kids around to help them make the best of their abilities.


    I was moved up like that when I was 9.
    It may work for some people but it was the worst thing I ever did. Work wise I was fine, still at the top of classes but being with older kids made life really difficult.


    Personally I think kids need to be with kids their own age.

  • I agree with some points you make, namely


    - giving the ones with less academic intelligence the option to learn about a skilled manual trade. However, i'd wait til after 3 years of secondary school just to give a basic grounding in other aspects - it's no good being a plumbing whizz if you cant add up to bill clients after all. I'd also let them learn for a proper industry qualification like Corgi etc (if possible) instead of GNVQ's.


    - The principle of academic selection is a good idea.



    I can see a few problems with this


    1) How can a potential employer judge a candidate without something like the GCSE system? At some point we have to label people from "idiot" to "genius" in order to determine who the best ones are. Teacher references are bound to be more unreliable than exam scores, and even then employers are complaining that due to the effects of grade inflation it's increasingly hard to make decisions. - so how would a childs final achievement be measured?


    2) I think that the purpose of schools is mainly to educate children academically, but also to help prepare them for life. As kids get older the boundaries between ages are blurred somewhat, but as starpoi says a younger kid with a group of older ones is possibly not the best environment for social development.


    3) To focus of such a system seems to be based on getting everyone up to a set level. This ethos does not seem to encourage bright children to stretch themselves are their year level and gain a broader understanding, but simply to charge through the system as fast as they are physically able. If a kid can leave school at X years old academically equipped to make an economic contribution to society I would wonder whether they might also be mature, socially responsible and self-supporting?


    Finally though, could you perhaps elaborate on your vision for kids after they reach the set standard? would you revert to more traditional methods or simply have another standard which must be reached?

  • Quote from Dapablo

    It is a subject that my mind is spending some time evaluating at the moment for my own selfish reasons. I would struggle to come up with a definitive statement as of now but would be interested in others opinions myself. Any particular reasons yourself RW ?

    Just that I've got a two and a half year old at the moment and I had a pretty naff school experience myself. I never had to try very hard and still ended up doing pretty well. I feel like this system would have suited me better. What are your selfish reasons?

  • Right having been in a school up until last year here is my two cents.


    They experimented with mixed ability, ability groups and then a bit of both.


    First it was MIXED ABILITY
    I generally got on okay but one thing that annoyed the heck out of me was that while I was trying to learn and work, there would always be the class idiot's who wanted just disrupt it for everybody else. I also felt frustrated a lot as I felt some of the work was way too easy, and I was getting through it much faster than a lot of the people, with not much help to the higher questions, as their primary concern was to get everyone at least a pass! Yeah you get shouted "boff" and whatever, but that's life isn't it. I guess these are okay but maybe if it were in a planned type way.. students selected from differnt ability ranges rather than random sampling... some classes I felt like I was the only one who wanted to get anything done..


    In English they moved us into ABILITY GROUPS
    My teacher absolutely hated my guts, I have no idea why, but that's life. We were given the chance to select which ability group we think we should go in, I selected the highest. He gave me a huge lecture about how I was far too crap to go into there and spat "none of the others in there would have got a Basic before!!" [basic being the lowest grade from a term on a report.. I'd been getting rubbish grades due to a number of stresses/depression/whatever but before that had always got top marks]


    but instead of giving me some confidence or trust that I knew if it was too hard for me I would have to suffer getting moved down a group. Anyway she was a hag and I ended up in a middle/bottom type group. Being put in a lot lower ability group I felt embarrassed to know the answer, when you're the only one putting your hand up it gets a bit offputting, and I was extemely frustrated as everything was so damn easy! After a few weeks though the teacher of that class marked some of my essays, decided I was a genius and asked me why the hell I was in that group?!! I said I had asked to be higher but hag teacher made me go there!


    Anyway I got put into the "a" grade group. It was great I felt challenged a lot and with people of my own understanding...as nasty as it may sound I do get very frustrated when people don't know as much! Everybody there wanted to work, they wanted to get top grades and it was good.


    Next year of English, year 11 GCSE, mixed AND set ability
    What happened was, they had a top and a bottom group..and everybody in the middle was mixed ability. To me it sounded like "well as long as we get our percentage of top scores, and make sure the bottom people at least pass, we're okay!" I was in the top group for this, but it was a lot smaller than the previous with only the "best" apparently, yep we were getting the best education and told how to get A* yadadaya.. but people who had been put into the mixed abilty classes..my best friend for example got a crap standard, as we were both aiming for the same grade, but she was getting no help whatsoever, and had to share a class with the dossers. I felt quite stressed in this group as it was like they assumed we knew everything, and if I asked a question she'd shout a lot and then blame me for being stupid or something..ffs..how are we meant to learn without asking?! Bah I got an A* anyway, but I did not like that method of teaching.



    Of them all I have to say for me the set ability classes were the best. Particulary in English and Maths, my experiance with Maths very similar to English..well the top group yes it was hard, but it kept me on my toes and everybody was eager to learn and share and help...it really transformed maths for me, you were encouraged to go as far as you could without the hinderance of those who weren't so bothered.


    However this is my expeiance only from the higher groups, I'm sure its a differnt story from the lower groups.


    The majority of people in the bottom groups were generally trouble causers who obviously didn't want to be there and just wanted to stir trouble, be rude to the teacher etc etc.. however a lot of people were just those who maybe found learning difficult, and needed some help, but I feel being in these lower groups took away their confidence, I never saw anybody moved up. Being surrounded by people telling you you are stupid isn't going to help.


    Maybe they should have ability groups, and then groups for people who don't care, so those who want an education can get one.



    And if you read all that I appluad you, here have a beer!

  • Yes, absolutely right Naeni, it was a bit silly of me to say I was only interested in parents' points of view, recent pupils have at least as valid a point of view, sorry all:o


    Scarlett, I see your point about low acheivers being left behind but don't you think sticking them in a low set ability group, essentially defined as stupid all PC terms aside, is more damaging than just being at a certain point along the path of education which they will finish eventually? In real life you have to learn how to mix with different abilities but also with different ages, ay. I feel like older kids in the group may have something to contribute simply through life experience even though they are at a similar academic level to the other kids in the class.


    I agree with you Medusa that it may be a timetabling nightmare, also the potential problem of continuity with children arriving and moving on several times a year, but I personally believe that the problems would be worth solving for the improvement in quality of education.
    Modular education, Medusa. Each subject would be essentially stand-alone.


    I was moved up a year in school as well and also had no problems work-wise but some problems socialising. I think it would be easier if it was the norm though.


    Cybw, I'm going to have to quote you cos you a made a few good points:

    Quote from Cybw

    it's no good being a plumbing whizz if you cant add up to bill clients after all. I'd also let them learn for a proper industry qualification like Corgi etc (if possible) instead of GNVQ's.

    Well, my ideal would be that it would be all inclusive. Corgi, or whatever, could decide what level of education in all necessary subjects were required to be a qualified plumber. They may contribute heavily in the teaching of the plumbing specific courses/syllabusses, but would simply say a pupil needs maths level... 6 or whatever and book-keeping level 1 before they get their full qualification. See what I mean?


    Quote

    1) How can a potential employer judge a candidate without something like the GCSE system? At some point we have to label people from "idiot" to "genius" in order to determine who the best ones are. Teacher references are bound to be more unreliable than exam scores, and even then employers are complaining that due to the effects of grade inflation it's increasingly hard to make decisions. - so how would a childs final achievement be measured?

    Essentially, every student goes through the equivalent of GCSE grade F or whatever in the core subjects, potentially at a much earlier age than 16, then they get to decide if they want to continue studying to get to a higher standard if they need it for what they want to do or are just interested in it.


    Quote

    2) I think that the purpose of schools is mainly to educate children academically, but also to help prepare them for life. As kids get older the boundaries between ages are blurred somewhat, but as starpoi says a younger kid with a group of older ones is possibly not the best environment for social development.

    But equally a kid who's much brighter or less able than their classmates, right?


    Quote

    3) To focus of such a system seems to be based on getting everyone up to a set level. This ethos does not seem to encourage bright children to stretch themselves are their year level and gain a broader understanding, but simply to charge through the system as fast as they are physically able. If a kid can leave school at X years old academically equipped to make an economic contribution to society I would wonder whether they might also be mature, socially responsible and self-supporting?

    When I was in school I couldn't wait to test myself in the real world. It would have motivated me to work harder if I could have got out there sooner. I agree about the possible problems but in an ideal world free education would never be a closed door. A kid may get out and work a few days a week while still improving themselves educationally on other days for example. I think teaching should be something that a lot more people get involved in as well. It seems strange to me that a person needs a degree and PGCE to teach subjects that they learnt 5 years or so ago. I'm a supporter of peer group education even if the young 'teachers' have to be paid a nominal sum as incentive.


    Quote

    Finally though, could you perhaps elaborate on your vision for kids after they reach the set standard? would you revert to more traditional methods or simply have another standard which must be reached?


    The standards, presumably would go up to current post-doc level.



    And finally back to Naeni. As a general solution to your points, I would definitely not frown on lateral moves if a student and teacher fail to get on or a student doesn't like their class-mates or for any other reason.


    I read your whole post, where's me beer?

  • Quote from Rincewind

    Just that I've got a two and a half year old at the moment and I had a pretty naff school experience myself. I never had to try very hard and still ended up doing pretty well. I feel like this system would have suited me better. What are your selfish reasons?

    A twelve year old completing her first year and an 11 year old about to step up to Senior school.

    Shannon has been labelled a 5 percenter but also suffers being in the "worst class" in her year group. I have concerns that her interest in learning may be damaged by having to share learning time with a group of children whose parents don't appear to believe in authority.

    I think you'll find streaming occurs in most if not all schools for English and Maths, in all other subjects the take up is a lot more hit and miss.

  • You dont want to change the education system,you want to change the world!Modular education like that just wudnt work.Too many kids wud need to be in diferent lessons at the same time.thats why theyr streamed by overall ability and in year groups at the mo
    My sons primary school taught a high percentage of kids wiv special needs and believed in near total integration.So my (bright) son was bein educated alongside kids with sometimes severe learnin/behavioral/physical difficulties.The attitude of the school was that all pupils were equally valid regardless of ability,S.A.T results always put us at the bottom of league tables and some local parents chose other schools rather than 'risk' their childs education.But it was a good school that suited my child and he did great there.Bein in mixed ability groups taught him a lot about tolerance,helping and learnin from each other and not bein judgmental.(All temporarily forgotten due to teen hormones but hey he had the right values once so meybe theyl come back)
    Part of the reason we chose alternative secondary education 4 him was the segregation of ability groupings.I"v worked in schools and seen the attitude of teachers to the 'bottom' group -the system writes off kids before they even start.And at an age where peers are hugely important,how many kids in the lower groups are gonna want to work their way up if it means bein seperated from friends?
    Finally i think youre so so wrong about education bein compulsory until a person can make a contribution to society.Under that system my son wud have already left but i'd still be there and i'm 34!

  • i think it's a stupid idea.
    it's completely elitist, giving children greater privelages and bigger egos for being better in school - something which i have seen correlates with social class.
    i do not think we need to add anything else to the divergence of classes.

    we reenact Noah's ancient drama, but in reverse, like a film running backwards, the animals exiting

  • Quote from elfqueenofrohan

    i think it's a stupid idea.
    it's completely elitist, giving children greater privelages and bigger egos for being better in school - something which i have seen correlates with social class.


    The idea of academic selection makes sense in my experience. Attending a selective school, but with no setting for A levels, I still get incredibly fustrated when class time is wasted explaining something stupidly simple for the fifth time. If I was in a class with people who had learning difficulties or who were just "thick as" I might have sympathy for them - but I'd learn a lot less and would be bored out of my head for half the lesson.


    With grammar schools, the only distinction made is on brains. Comprehensive schools might not bother the middle class who can play the catchment area and buy houses near the good comprehensives, but the bright kids from a working class background have far worse chances. Put a grammar school in every town and you offer the brighter ones the best possibly of working their way up and "getting on".


    Elfqueen claimed that it was elitist to offer this chance, but unless you reject the idea of academic selection. Why is that a bad thing in this case, why is it stupid to give people oppertunity based on merit? You wouldn't say it was elitist if a job went to someone who was brighter than another, so why not an educational place? Of course there will be more kids who are better at school from middle class families, precisely because a child from that sort of environment is more likely to come from a background where education is valued, where there are books at home and where parents do take the children to see the odd play performed.


    However, academic selection allows everyone to be taught at their own level. The bright ones can be stretched, the medicore challenged and at the lower end the less able ones (what a delightfully PC phrase) to be taught with others of the same ability at their own rate - and i believe there is some evidence that this slower pace actually improves their attainment overall.



  • with grammar schools it was what, 10% of students which got in? if that figure's wrong, i'm sorry, it was before my time after all.
    yes, if you're an intelligent working class student, fine, brilliant, you've got a great oppurtunity - my dad for e.g. came from a very poor background but because he passed his 11+ he got the chance to get a good education and go through uni (with a grant at that point) if that hadn't happened he'd never have got outta that.
    but his brother failed the 11+... he did not get the same oppurtunities, he got social stigma - what, you think one exam that a child takes at 11 is really the best deciding factor of their future?!?!
    But anyway, the reality is that it would be far more middle-class kids getting into the grammar schools anyway - if a parent knows their child will get into the grammar school they won't need to pay for private school and that takes up places in the school for kids who can't afford to pay and now have no chance at all of a good education.
    They scrapped grammar schools for a reason.

    Maybe they should just put more money into the system we have got rather than trying to come up with new ones.

    we reenact Noah's ancient drama, but in reverse, like a film running backwards, the animals exiting

  • I'd agree that Grammer Schools can be elitist and so agree with their demise, but I do think the principles regarding streaming for ability should be introduced into all subjects in the Comprehensives.

  • Yeah, you're absolutely right Medusa I do want to change the world. Prolly never will but it's sometimes worth a try.

    Quote from medusa

    I'v worked in schools and seen the attitude of teachers to the 'bottom' group -the system writes off kids before they even start.And at an age where peers are hugely important,how many kids in the lower groups are gonna want to work their way up if it means bein seperated from friends?

    I was in the bottom english group for a while when I missed my streamy exam thingy and totally agree. In the imaginary system I'm proposing there wouldn't be 'bottom' groups, there's just be groups which everyone had to go through until they got to such a level where they could opt out.
    As for wanting to work your way up even if it means being seperated from your friends, what about working outwards. If you find yourself getting ahead of your mates and in classes where everyone's older than you like me n Starpoi did, how about broadening your education? Learning to cook or fix a car or plumbing, whatever. I have to say that's when I felt so cheated when I finished my brilliant school career - when I looked around and realised I couldn't actually do anything.

    Quote

    Finally i think youre so so wrong about education bein compulsory until a person can make a contribution to society.Under that system my son wud have already left but i'd still be there and i'm 34!

    What's education for then? Have you asked your son if he would like the chance to get out there and get paid for a bit? I'm not saying they should be kicked out of education as soon as they can do something else, just that they should be allowed maybe? And stop being so modest as if you can't contribute anything to society, ya wally.

  • I have to say, just to completely discredit myself to some of you no doubt, but also to fight the ever-losing fight for anarchy, I am an anarchist and I think school is where anarchy would have to begin if it was ever to work as a global politic. Timetabling would be hard, Medusa, if it was all left up to a huge top-down institution to sort everything out, but if the system was in place for parents to get involved in helping with their kids' education where they thought there was a weakness (not just by complaining to the teachers but by offering classes themselves, for example), I think it'd be a huge help. Even youngsters should be allowed to propose a course. Anyone who had passed a course would essentially know what they needed to know to teach it, right?
    Institutionalization of society is a big problem. The whole attitude of "there's an institution for that so I don't need to give a fuck" be it about your kids education, your health, public safety, or just fucking everything because there's a government is really fucked up and I honestly believe that a bit of anarchic philosophy, a bit of "let's all of us who care muck in and help" would do a lot of good in a lot of areas.


    Just my tuppence worth. Dunno if it was called for.

  • Well that's not very helpful. What's so unrealistically idealist about parents getting involved in their kids' education fercryin out loud.


    I am honestly tryin to get away from the whole mental idealist thing, but I refuse to start campaigning for a crappier world so I'm gonna have to keep aiming for the slightly more rainbow-coloured side of real.


    I thought some elements of this thing would be something worth getting my teeth into. I still do actually. I'm not gonna be put off by you, you...you... realist:mad:


    :) lalaa laah

  • yes. rainbow world = better but also = less real.

    i not realist, i not that.

    if u believe, believe, please do...... but i hv learnt tht wen u do believe u cannot expect othet peple to believe too

    we reenact Noah's ancient drama, but in reverse, like a film running backwards, the animals exiting

  • Aww jeez elf queen, I was only messin with ya. I don't actually think the word 'realist' could ever really be an insult, but also something no one's ever accused me of. I was just wondering what part of this whole thing you think is so unrealistic? Such "a dream"?

  • Quote

    What's education for then? Have you asked your son if he would like the chance to get out there and get paid for a bit?


    He has a part time job,he has a social life and if i asked him at this point if he wanted to leave school he'd say no.Coz most of the time he enjoys it.Why wud he want the responsibility of real life at 15?
    As to what part of your idea is unrealistic,basically you are failin to take account of the fact that most adults/parents are royally fucked up,have ego-issues and are not capable of workin together in the way you invisage.On paper it looks great but in reality its messed up coz our society doesnt work in the way it wud need to for your utopia education system to happen.Check out the small-scale alternative schools around the country who are tryin to do some of the things you suggest.Look at the reality of bein a pupil or parent there and you'l understand why your ideas wont work in practise.

  • I asked a school teacher friend this question today. The school she teaches at merged the infant and juniors together two years ago. They implemented this system. its proven to be very positive and the newly named school has become a pilot study.. already recommended to become a blueprint for good practice throughout the county. Only anticipated problems when mixing older age groups, ie, secondary school.