Why putting children as young as seven in "streams" doesn't work
Posted: 15 Jun, 2011
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A report from the University of London's Institute of Education has found that, across the UK, assigning students to certain classes based on academic capability happens to one-in-six youngsters by the age of seven. I appeared on Radio 5 Live Breakfast talking about this issue with Nick Seaton, who is secretary for the Campaign for Real Education. It was an entertaining and heated discussion which can be listened to here. I point out that streaming doesn't work because it tends to label children in the bottom sets as failures. Usually, these bottom sets are based more on "social class" and "gender" -- and in some schools according to ethnicity -- than ability, with the bottom sets being often full of naughty boys of working class origin, with parents who are not engaged with school at all. I know because I've taught my fair share. In my current school, we teach mixed ability and it works much better than setting and streaming (which is putting children in one stream for ALL subjects) because you can pair up able students with the less able, and because children don't feel like they're labelled as failures before they've even begun.