Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Research on Setting, Streaming and Mixed Attainment.
“On average, pupils experiencing setting or streaming make slightly less progress than pupils taught in mixed attainment classes.
The evidence suggests that setting and streaming has a very small negative impact for low and mid-range attaining learners, and a very small positive impact for higher attaining pupils. There are exceptions to this pattern, with some research studies demonstrating benefits for all learners across the attainment range.
Overall the effects are small, and it appears that setting or streaming is not an effective way to raise attainment for most pupils.
Setting or streaming may also have an impact on wider outcomes such as confidence. Some studies from the broader evidence base conclude that grouping pupils on the basis of attainment may have longer term negative effects on the attitudes and engagement of low attaining pupils, for example, by discouraging the belief that their attainment can be improved through effort.”
At Todmorden High School we have moved to mixed attainment across nearly all of the school. This is to support our vision to unlock the unique potential of all individuals.
Setting does not work for the majority of our students. Methods used to set students and group them by ‘ability’ or ‘prior attainment’ can be flawed, we believe the outcomes of a test or assessment is not a reliable reflection of a student’s potential in any given subject. We do not want to put artificial ceilings on students as a result of their grouping.
We also believe that the effort and self-belief are key determiners of achievement. A system that sets students creates classrooms that are hierarchical and lower students’ belief in what they can do. This creates avoidable barriers to learning. Academic research by Rosenthal and Jacobson describe the Pygmalion effect – whereby high expectations of all students result in higher levels of achievement. We are ambitious for all our students.
Teachers have received training on best practice in mixed attainment teaching grounded in the academic research of Professor B Francis (2017) and reflecting the needs of our current student profile. We will continue to build on best practice strategies in our continuing professional development with all staff.