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Do any schools in England teach mixed ability Maths?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by carohami, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. Hi there,

    I was just wondering if any of you teach mixed ability Maths at KS3. I'm an NQT and my school are currently 'experimenting' with year 7 and after a meeting today it seems we will be bringing it in properly for next years year 7.

    I was hoping to find a school that teaches mixed ability to go and observe the way they work it.

  2. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    Why don't you pop into any primary school in your area, mixed ability maths in year 6 won't be that much different to year 7! My class ranges from level 2 to level 6, so is pretty mixed ability-wise[​IMG]
  3. Yes good point.

    I'll get straight onto that.
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Mixed ability - you mean where pupils in the class are of a wide range of ability and you have to teach them all at the same time?
    Try any primary school in the country!!!
  5. Yes I know obviously.

    I did ask if any schools taught mixed ability at KS3. i.e secondary school!!!
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Sorry - one of those days!! I can't see why people would do that at KS3 - it must be great (and out of my wildest dreams) to teach a class where the children are roughly the same ability, give or take. Teaching a Level 2 to Level 5 class is very hard.
  7. Thanks for saying sorry.

    Your first post upset me a bit. I'm merely trying to get some advice on teaching mixed ability at secondary school because I want to try to do a good job of it whether I agree with it or not.

    I always seem to get stick on forums!
  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Well at KS2 it is hard. The same principles would apply to secondary teaching so it would be a good idea to talk to primary teachers at that's what they do. How do you do a starting activity that incorporates all levels? How do you do whole class teaching and ensure everyone gets involved? Aim for the middle - then group / individual work at an appropriate level.
    Teach the same topic but get them to work at the level appropriate for them. Seriously - talk to some KS2 teachers if you can especially at year 5 and year 6. You have a wide range of abilities in there and it is for me the hardest thing about primary teaching.
    Good luck.
  9. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    I think I remember Tandy teaching mixed ability at his school. Try searching for his comments on this forum?

    Mike Ollerton has written about this. How to choose a rich task that starts simply and then gets much harder. The example that springs to mind is perimeter of a rectangle. What rectangle can you draw with a perimeter of 20 cm? There are quite a few integer answers, then ask For the length to be a non integer. Probably a decimal. How about if one side was root five?
  10. Yes it's definitely a good idea to go in and look at some primary schools.
  11. Thanks pipipi I'll have a look
  12. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    We do lots of these - LTHC activities. Low threshold, High ceiling (taken from NRich).
    What do 16 and 36 have in common? You can get lots out of that - from two digits, less than 50, etc up to square numbers, have factors of 4, 2 etc in common.

  13. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    Three thoughts on this:

    1] It is good that you are asking about this now and appear keen to go out and find out more. If the teachers are not excited about it then it is likely to be an utter disaster.

    2] Primary schools in England sometimes have maths sets in Yr 6 (clearly, this is likely to be a big school with several-form entry). Many primary schools do have pupils of all abilities in the same classroom, all doing maths at the same time. This is not necessarily "teaching mixed ability maths", though, because if each 'table' in the room might be doing something completely different.

    3] If the school is serious about you doing this well then you need to be able to go and see schools that do this well. Finland has lots of them apparently. So does Hungary. And you might even find some places outside Europe to go and visit, too. I hope you have a valid passport ... !

    Let us know how you get on with this.
  14. It could be worth approaching very small secondary schools as mixed ability teaching is inevitable when there are only enough pupils to have a couple of classes per year group.
  15. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    My school in Kent has mixed ability classes in year 7 & 8.

    But it is a grammar school, so it's nowhere near a truly mixed ability class.
  16. ATM have a lot of really good resources that lend themselves to mixed ability teaching.
    I have had a set this year where the levels range from 1 to 5 and it is pretty tough - I've tended to teach a fair amount of stuff across the board and then allowed the more able students to set their own questions - for instance when they were doing sequences the lower ability students generated sequences based on the basic times tables and then added on lower numbers. The more able students set themselves some pretty tough challenges by doing decimal sequences and adding and subtracting decimals - generally far tougher than general textbook type examples - they really impressed me and showed a very good understanding.
    We used to teach mixed abilty using textbooks - 3 different textbooks in a class, which was a nightmare. Project and puzzle type work is much easier to manage from that point of view.
    www.activemaths.co.uk is also a very good resource - You can teach broadly the same topic but get worksheets and activities at different levels of difficulty - I use their primary section for basic arithmetic for the weakest and then use the secondary section for the same type of arithmetic but with decimals for the more able.
    Of course class size makes a difference as well - mixed ability with large classes is much harder - changing pairings and groupings on a fairly regular basis can help - pairing weakest with strongest can help the weaker students and also helps to develop the communication skills of the stronger students. Keeping the class like that all the time can be unfair to the stronger students but having some lessons where the stronger students then work together on a different problem would break that up.
  17. This school appears to teach mixed ability, according to their website...

  18. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Swavesey do with great success, as does Parkside School a few miles down the road in Cambridge. I'm sure either school would be interested in helping out - I think both have ASTs.
    I think they base the principles on Boaler's book, and they use alot of groupwork based on NRICH resources.
  19. Teachers from Swavesey and Parkside were involved with one of NRICH's Teacher Inspiration Days in the summer, so if you're interested you could take a look at this page where their resources are available.
    The NRICH resources that emerged from collaboration with Jo Boaler can be found here.
    If anyone wants to get in touch with the teachers at Parkside and Swavesey and is having difficulty doing so, get in touch with us at NRICH and we can pass your details on.
  20. Thank you for all your reply. Got lots to think about/organise.

    I've managed to get on Swavesey's website so I am going to try to get in touch with them and hopefully organise to visit.

    Thanks again everyone.

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