Mixed-ability teaching

(69 Posts)
HelpOneAnother Mon 10-Dec-12 10:07:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Snowfire Mon 10-Dec-12 11:01:32

Most of the comps in my area do this, I think they want as many DC as possible to get a C in their GCSEs, so by putting them in mixed groups the more academic students can help those of lower ability. I don't think it's very helpful for more able DC though.

Snowfire Mon 10-Dec-12 11:03:00

That's not a positive, just my thoughts. Can't think of any positives tbh.

chloe74 Mon 10-Dec-12 11:25:38

I would say it more to do with the teacher. A good teacher is able to differentiate for mixed abilities and get the best out of all children. Bad teachers in 'set' classes are 'hidden' behind high achieving children who can do well no matter what.

So if its a good school with good teachers and behavior is not the factor then children benefit from the social inclusion mixed classes bring whilst still stretching the brightest to their limits.

The results tables should tell you how well high achieving children do at the school.

BrianButterfield Mon 10-Dec-12 11:51:50

My comprehensive teaches mixed ability in English all the way to year 11 - I can assure you we don't "teach to a c" but very much expect all students to go for their own target grade.

APMF Mon 10-Dec-12 12:37:32

Ok we are talking about secondary school but at primary school DS was on the top table in maths and literacy. He would often finish his task early and then sit there while waiting for the teacher or TA to work their way back to his table. Often he would get into trouble for being disruptive because he had nothing to do. In the end the teacher got him to help the others in maths. That made him feel important but it didn't exactly push his maths.

I be interested to hear how a teacher of a mixed ability secondary class thinks he/she can devote the same effort to teaching my son compared to a teacher in a streamed class.

noblegiraffe Mon 10-Dec-12 12:43:25

Evidence shows mixed ability groups has a positive effect on the achievement of lower and middle ability children and also avoids problems with disaffection and self esteem that can be caused by putting students in low sets. High ability children do slightly worse than in a set, I think.

HelpOneAnother Mon 10-Dec-12 12:54:03

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SanityClause Mon 10-Dec-12 13:02:03

Actually, APMF, I believe that it does help children to explain their knowledge to others.

I think it was Einstein who said something to the effect of "if you can't explain it simply, then you don't truly understand." So by encouraging your DC to explain concepts to others, the teacher is ensuring he really does understand it.

Even very highly qualified teachers find that their understanding of a concept is reinforced by teaching to students, even of a much lower level than themselves.

(I have to rush off, now, so sorry to appear rude by posting and running!)

APMF Mon 10-Dec-12 13:08:28

I never thought of it that way Sanity.

crazymum53 Mon 10-Dec-12 13:18:03

My dd is in Y8 and her secondary school does this. In Y7 they are only set for Maths (using CATs scores and SATs data). This has seemed to work well as for subjects such as English and Science all students study the same topics and set books etc. including Shakepeare. This also gives more time for the secondary school teachers to assess dcs ability as SATs data and primary school teacher's assessments may not be completely accurate.
In Y8 the school has a definite top set for subjects such as Maths, Science, MFL, History, Geography ((some subjects are not "set") and a "support" set for children who are below average. The other sets are mixed ability. The school does publish subject-by-subject GCSE results and most children in the "mixed ability" sets still obtain grade A*-B at GCSE so it definitely works at this school.

HelpOneAnother Mon 10-Dec-12 13:19:48

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TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 10-Dec-12 13:19:57

Sanity That's true actually: I frequently find being made to explain things helps me to clarify my own understanding, but had never thought of it like that before.

OP my y11 dd is in sets for English, Maths and Science, but languages and humanities are mixed: there does not seem to be an appreciable difference, and indeed her weakest teacher is for Biology, and this is the only one where a particular child has got away with poor behaviour - and since he's top set too, the problem would have been there either way, if you see what I mean.

I was a bit hmm after options when not everything was set any more, but it seems to have worked out fine (touch wood) - I think it depends on the teacher more than anything else.

ReallyTired Mon 10-Dec-12 13:23:54

Finland uses mixed ablity teaching and has fanastic results.

HelpOneAnother Mon 10-Dec-12 13:27:14

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HelpOneAnother Mon 10-Dec-12 13:38:54

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TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 10-Dec-12 13:42:34

Interestingly, French is the most mixed ability of the lot, because, for historic reasons too complex to explain briefly, it is a group of people who did it because it was perceived to be easier than German and the teacher softer, and then a few people who did it as well as German, who are generally more keen on MFL. At the moment it seems to have worked ok, but I'm so aware of touching wood as we near mocks!

HelpOneAnother Mon 10-Dec-12 13:49:05

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TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 10-Dec-12 13:51:29

Merci de sa part thanks

glaurung Mon 10-Dec-12 14:31:32

dd was in fairly mixed ability groups in year 10 and 11 and did brilliantly (quite a bit better than expected) in her GCSEs. I think what worked especially well for her was the having to explain things to others and going over things several times in class which meant she could get away with being unreliable over homework (she's a lazy moo) but still reinforce the work. Small class sizes probably helped too.

noblegiraffe Mon 10-Dec-12 15:42:47

In 1999 1.1% of students in the UK were in special segregated provision for SEN students, in Finland it was 3.7%, so comparing mixed ability here with mixed ability there might give different impressions. (I don't know any more up to date figures although I suspect that the UK figure will be even lower now than in 1999.)

LoopsInHoops Mon 10-Dec-12 15:48:24

As a teacher, I far prefer mixed ability, unless there are proper SEN groups.

Middle or lower sets get so focused on behaviour management that they become impossible to teach. Average students lose out.

So often I've seen average students in mixed ability settings pitch themselves against the high achievers, and thrive on the competition. IMO a motivated average student will do better in a mixed group than a lower set, but can sometimes feel discouraged by being one of the weakest in a top set.

chloe74 Mon 10-Dec-12 16:12:43

Loops - you seem to be asserting that high achieving pupils are used by teachers to help the disruptive pupils behave and to drag up the middle achievers. What about that situation benefits high achievers?

APMF Mon 10-Dec-12 19:59:53

Well, as a parent I don't prefer mixed ability classes.

If a teacher needs someone like my son to motivate the average ability kid then something is seriously wrong.

Niceweather Mon 10-Dec-12 21:18:11

Copied from web:
To summarize the numbers (which sometimes get cited differently) learners retain approximately:
90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration.
20% of what they learn from audio-visual.
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from lecture.

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