Posts Tagged ‘GCSEs’

I am a Proud Defender of the Mixed-Ability Classroom

September 20, 2012

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

Children Exposed to Poor Maths Teachers: Ofsted

May 22, 2012

I am not particularly surprised by the finding that bright students, in particular, are being failed by poor maths instruction. It’s been my experience that most teachers come from a strictly humanities (i.e. English, Politics, History) background. These teachers often shirk maths and science as it isn’t their forte.

In a damning report, the watchdog warned that the scale of underachievement at school was a “cause of national concern” that risks robbing the country of well-qualified mathematicians, scientists and engineers.

It said that many of the most gifted children were “insufficiently challenged” at primary and secondary level after being set the same work as mid-ranking classmates.

Inspectors insisted that too much teaching focused on the use of “disconnected facts and methods” that pupils were expected to memorise and replicate without any attempt to solve complex problems in their heads.

Large numbers of pupils are also being pushed into sitting maths GCSEs a year early – forcing schools to completely ignore many of the most demanding algebra topics, it was revealed.

In a highly-critical conclusion, Ofsted said that teaching was not good enough in almost half of English state schools, with almost no improvements being made in the last four years.

I realise that what I am writing is a gross generalisation, but I believe that maths is generally taught in a very abstract and monotonous way. No wonder the students are not benefitting from maths instruction at the primary level. Traditional maths teaching involves worksheets, a mindless array of algorithms and plenty of other rote styled goodies.

The tragedy of it all is that maths can be taught in a completely different way. I find the basic skills of maths the most refreshing and creatively exciting subject to teach. The fact that maths is a composite of everyday skills means it translates wonderfully to problem solving activities.


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