Is grouping pupils by ability ‘iniquitous’?

Esse Quam Videri

Setting, Differentiation by Task or Mixed Ability?

There isn’t a ‘right answer’ to every question in teaching. Often there are simply decisions and those decisions have consequences, both positive and negative. This is especially true with the debate over differentiation, setting and mixed ability teaching.

Today I read this persuasive and angry piece by Mary Mered on the iniquities of ability grouping in primary schools. I fully sympathised with all her nuanced arguments. I have seen the way ability based table grouping can hold children back at primary level and I know there is research showing mixed ability teaching is (can be?) more successful. However, I think Mary is wrong to presume the problems with mixed ability teaching are particularly surmountable. It has its own distinct drawbacks, as any teacher allocated a massively mixed ability class knows full well. So while I fully sympathise with Mary’s concerns I think we…

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