No advantage to setting – experts say

The BBC reports that setting in primary schools by ability has no clear advantages, but can have a detrimental effect on children in the bottom groups, a new report says.

Setting is when children are in ability groups for different subjects. Those in the top group work faster and have enhanced learning opportunities, with teachers expecting more from them, a team of academics from London said. But those in the lower groups can be stigmatised, and often have their activities restricted, the report said. The findings come nearly a decade after then prime minister Tony Blair said schools needed to “take account of different abilities, for example by setting”. Another finding of the paper, published as part of the Primary Review – a wide-ranging examination of primary school education – suggested class sizes should be cut to a maximum of 25 to help young children who struggle with reading. It also suggested that smaller classes could help children in the first year of secondary school.

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