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Mixed ability v sets in KS3

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mhull56, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. mhull56

    mhull56 New commenter

    I'm currently considering changing to mixed ability grouping for our KS3 maths classes, and wondered if anyone knows of any good literature or research on this topic? (Maths specific)
  2. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I can't answer your question but I can tell you about my experience with two students I tutor for GCSE maths. A new head has decided all GCSE subjects have to be taught in mixed ability groups.

    One student, who should be able to get at least a grade 7, has been in a class where they have spent 13 lessons on rearranging fomulae, a topic she understood after the first lesson. She isn't learning anything in maths at school and spends the lessons helping other students. It really doesn't seem fair to take advantage of the brighter students like this.
    strawbs likes this.
  3. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

  4. og1048

    og1048 New commenter

  5. og1048

    og1048 New commenter

    @mhull56 - I urge you to read Mark Mccourts book on Mastery.
    I have just read it and it has some important advice for the exact question you asked.
    He discusses this at length and is well worth reading- but in a 2 line summary:
    He states that to convert to mixed ability from a setted structure a school needs five or six years of commitment, forethought and funding to develop their teachers pedagogical approaches sufficiently and suggests that headteachers who convert with just 'a few days professional development' have no right to be leading a school.
    zee210, Aplant14 and nicolacraddock like this.
  6. dajg

    dajg New commenter

    Jo Boaler, professor at Stanford, has done a lot of research on this in Maths. Her main takeaway, setting is slightly beneficial to high ability and slightly negative to middle and lower ability and slightly negative overall. She wrote a book called "The Elephant in the Classroom" on it. Here is the EEF page on it:

    Most countries do not set.

    The biggest problem you will have teaching mixed ability is recruitment and retention followed by training.

    Also if your headteacher insists you spend hours on differentiation point them towards the research that it doesn't always work: http://mrbartonmaths.com/teachers/research/differentiation.html

    Good luck.
  7. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Look carefully at your staff.

    I once worked with a new HoD who had come from a school that taught mixed-ability, and was keen to introduce it. After a term or two, he conceded that the department worked very well with setting, had good procedures that allowed pupils to move between sets as appropriate, and teachers who would struggle to be as effective teaching mixed ability. He then defended setting when a new head tried to push mixed-ability.
    Robak1991 and strawbs like this.
  8. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    Sensible HoD!!
    Robak1991 likes this.

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