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Standards in TES News

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Vince_Ulam, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    My observations over the years are that I prefer setted groups. "Bottom" sets, I hate that expression, can work very well if the work is at a challenging level and every single opportunity to praise students is pounced upon with gusto. Often those students have never heard praise.
    install and Vince_Ulam like this.
  2. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    None of the three points you make provide any of the evidence I have asked for.

    - You claim that primary schools are in a mess. Not so - a higher percentage of primary schools than secondary are judged 'good' or 'outstanding' by Ofsted - I provided recent evidence;
    - You claim many pupils leave primary school with poor academic achievement. Not so - test results (even the most recent, harder tests) indicate most pupils leave primary school at or above 'expected'
    standards - I provided recent evidence;
    - You claim that primary pupils would do better if taught in sets, as in most secondary schools - I was unable to find any evidence that pupils do better in setted classes, and have asked you to provide this. I can point you to evidence that setting has no overall effect - there's so much of it, though, a Google search will throw plenty up for you. However, here's a recent (2017) report in TES:

    In their paper, presented this week at the annual British Educational Research Association conference, the academics stated: “It is well-established that attainment-based grouping has little, if any, overall benefit in terms of student outcomes.

    “Indeed, it has been demonstrated multiple times that, while small achievement gains may be made by higher-attaining students, the impact on students in lower-attaining groups is negative.”

    The government-backed Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) found that low-attaining pupils who were placed into ability-based sets or streams tended to fall behind by one or two months per year on average, compared with similar pupils in mixed-ability classes.

    It added: “It appears likely that routine setting or streaming arrangements undermine low attainers’ confidence, and discourage the belief that attainment can be improved through effort.”

    But the EEF also found that ability-based sets had a positive effect on the highest-attaining pupils: they tended to make between one and two months' additional progress when setted or streamed, though a similar effect could be achieved using targeted interventions.

    So - higher ability may do better by one or two months; lower ability do worse by one or two months.

    - You have completely ignored the logistics of setting in small schools with mixed age classes;
    - I've asked you to provide evidence that setting in secondary schools closes the gap between the lower achieving pupils and the rest (whereas mixed ability teaching doesn't). From the research above, setting makes the gap wider.

    For what it's worth, I am not totally against setting for maths in Y5/6 - but I recognise it is largely because it makes life easier for the teacher NOT because it has any overall positive effect on pupil outcomes, because it doesn't.

    Secondary schools, I have no personal experience; all I can do is point to the research. But I really had to take issue with your unsubstantiated criticism of primary practice and belief that if we scrapped mixed-ability teaching in favour of sets, standards would miraculously improve. There is no evidence to support this.
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    What research are you staking your money on here? None described by the article can be found at either of its links.
    install likes this.
  4. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

  5. install

    install Star commenter

    Why do you think the Govt are paying so many Secondary Schools money to improve the Yr6 Primary Results?

    The research is flawed - and heavily reliant on Ofsted Report gradings. Not the real success rate of students in all subjects. Why just look at English and Maths?

    Give setting a go is all I can say. :)
  6. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Install, ALL the evidence for the last 50 years (way before OFSTED in its current incarnation) has come to the same conclusion. Setting v mixed-ability - overall outcomes are the same. You can't dismiss research outcomes as flawed just because they don't say what you want them to.

    IS the government paying secondary schools as you describe? And if it is, it will be to work with the small minority who do not 'achieve expectations', i,e, those who are below average on the normal distribution curve, and therefore whom you would expect to be behind their peers. It's not because primary schools are failing, because they are not.

    As for only looking at English & maths - apart from science, that is the only primary data available.

    And you have still not addressed the issues I have raised - including the practical issues of setting in small primary schools.

    I don't need to give setting a go - as I said, I've worked in primary schools which set for maths, and it makes teachers' lives easier.
    BUT it DOESN'T improve results overall.
    Truly, there is no evidence for this.

    That's really the main point I have been trying to make.
  7. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Thanks for these.

    The UCL research linked is close to a joke. They did not find the participants they required to carry out their investigation and so decided to write about this failure. It is not evidence which supports mixed-ability groups, never mind conclusive.

    The EEF page linked does not show 'that low-attaining pupils who were placed into ability-based sets or streams tended to fall behind by one or two months per year on average, compared with similar pupils in mixed-ability classes.'

    More about the EEF to follow.
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    The EEF itself does not have much confidence in this fifty years of research:

    'Overall, the evidence is rated as limited.'
  9. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Back in the day where I worked it was an unwritten rule that no-one really cared about bottom set results, they were not going to affect the school's score by moving them from an G to an F. So you could have fun with them. Grow tomato plants and sell them at parents evenings. Do science projects and display, just do random practicals such as making plastics from potatoes or designing their own sunscreen. The groups were small so would fit in the minibus. So take them to the science museum, or the seaside, or the park, or just to a motorway service station, other teachers were often happy not to see them. Do first aid, teach them CPR, make yoghurt, do a plant survey of the school field, measure the speed of sound, teach them how to evacuate the top floor using the evac chair (having a 6 stone girl taking me, an 18 stone male, down a flight of stairs), teach them how to change the wheel on the minibus, or put fuel in, solve how to drop an egg three floors without it breaking, do a speed survey on the traffic passing the school them get them to write to the local MP about road safety, the list goes on. Sadly now this isn't allowed. They have to trudge through all the daily grind even though we all know it will make little difference to their result.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  10. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    As often happens this thread got away from the original point. I wondered if you got a response from TES to the original question.
  11. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    None, although TES News clearly has some kind of arrangement with the UCL IOE, last year sponsoring a series of its debates entitled 'What If'.

    These were chaired by UCL IOE director Becky Francis, whose work has been prominently featured in a rash of recent TES puff pieces, and attended by TES News deputy editor Ed Dorrell whom Francis was quick to thank at the beginning of each debate. TES flash featured heavily throughout, as you can see:


    It troubles me that one of the UK's two leading education journals appears to preferentially promote the work of an institution with which it has had financial dealings.
  12. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Thank you
  13. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    You are welcome.

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