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IOE Blog


Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


PISA: England’s schools segregate by ability more than almost every other country in the world

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 24 September 2019

John Jerrim.

In education systems across the world, children are separated into different groups based upon their academic achievement. This is done in different ways.

Countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland ‘track’ pupils of high and low achievement into different schools (as do parts of England – Kent, for instance – that have retained grammar schools).

Others rely more heavily upon within-school ability grouping of pupils, whether this be setting/streaming, or sitting higher/lower achieving children together within the same class.

A whole host of research has compared countries in how much they segregate higher and lower achieving pupils into different schools. But there has been little work on the extent that different countries group high and low achievers together when they go to the same school.


How does it feel to be in the bottom group? A new project investigates

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 23 April 2018

Eleanore Hargreaves with Denise Buchanan and Laura Quick. 
Children are not often asked to voice their true opinions at school, especially not about school. In my own previous research, I found that primary school pupils could voice valuable and sometimes shocking insights into their own classroom experiences. Such insights came from some pupils in ‘bottom ability’ groups who expressed a sense of being treated as different, and less worthy, by their teachers. They also perceived that other pupils looked down on them, which undermined their confidence and sometimes made them unhappy. For example, Jack, a nine-year old pupil, explained:
‘I thought I was okay but it turned out I wasn’t. I tried my hardest and now I just had to move down [to the ‘lowest ability’ group]. People have laughed at me every day for two weeks’.
Several new studies have highlighted the way grouping disadvantages those deemed
“less able” – for example, the IOE’s Best Practice in Grouping Students project, which asked teachers about their practices. In our new project, which began this month, (more…)