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I am a Proud Defender of the Mixed-Ability Classroom

I hate labels, especially labels given to kids. Too often I have seen a child brandished as a “low ability” student prove everybody wrong. The beauty about mixed ability classrooms is that the group in question isn’t selected based on a label. This allows the students to be appreciated for who they are instead of what they know. This also provides more confident students with the fantastic opportunity of helping their less confident counterparts during whole class and grouped work.

But mixed ability classrooms forces teachers to accommodate for the learning needs of each student and they would therefore have to differentiate the curriculum? Of course we would! That’s our job!

It seems like others do not share my beliefs:

Bright pupils are losing out due to the ‘curse’ of mixed-ability classes, the head of Ofsted warned yesterday.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said thousands were failing to reach their full potential due to poor teaching methods.

Inspectors will now be critical of schools that do not differentiate between high and low achievers.

This could lead to schools falling into the new category of ‘requires improvement’ (which replaces the old ‘satisfactory’ description), or even being labelled ‘inadequate’.

Statistics published following a  Parliamentary question show that  55 per cent of lessons in English state secondary schools last year involved children with different academic needs.

Ofsted cannot force schools to adopt setting – grouping pupils according to their academic ability in single subjects – or streaming, where ability groups cover most or all subjects.

However, Sir Michael’s intervention is likely to make headteachers rethink their practice of mixed ability classes for fear of being marked down in future inspections.

Click on the link to read The Difficulties of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Click on the link to read Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

Click on the link to read Would You Notice if Your Child Was a Bully?

Click on the link to read Labelling Children is Extremely Harmful

Click on the link to read The Insanity of Modern Educational Thinking

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2 Responses to “I am a Proud Defender of the Mixed-Ability Classroom”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    Ofsted does nothing to improve standards of education in the same way that NAPLAN testing does nothing to improve anything. If poor teaching methods are a problem this has to stem from poor teacher training and poor standards of supervision and leadership. Surely somebody knows how to get it right, evidently the training institutions and head teachers have no idea.

    If all you do is test, sort and grade when do you teach? There is an old Chinese (?) proverb that states, “The fish rots from the head.” If leadership is the key, selection of leaders has to be more effective. It has to go beyond self recommendation (CV) and staging (interview).

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    As good as mixed ability classes may be I know a number of students who didn’t learn to “fly” until placed in a special class for students with intellectual disability. Mind you I ran such a classes (the children were treated as normal) in the same way I would run a mixed ability class were it not for the woeful supervisory practices of those enforcing inappropriate state mandated syllabuses, the overstuffed primary curriculum and the narrowing influences of mass testing. In short, I was able to provide a syllabus appropriate for the needs of my students. It was some years ago. They probably now have a mandatory syllabus for children in such classes being dumbed down bilge from the regular syllabus.

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