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Ability-grouping in Primary Schools

Ability-grouping in Primary Schools

Case Studies and Critical Debates

AUTHOR : By Rachel Marks Edited by Ian Menter

ISBN : 9781910391242

Edition No : 1

Publication : Feb 9, 2016

Extent : 80 pgs

ISBN : 9781910391259

Publication : Feb 9, 2016

Extent : 80 pgs

ISBN : 9781910391266

Publication : Feb 9, 2016

Extent : 80 pgs

ISBN : 9781910391273

Publication : Feb 9, 2016

Extent : 80 pgs


The use of ability-grouping is currently increasing in primary schools. Teachers and teacher educators are placed in the unenviable position of having to marry research evidence suggesting that ability-grouping is ineffectual with current policy advocating this approach.This book links theory, policy and practice in a critical examination of ability-grouping practices and their implications in primary schools, with particular reference to primary mathematics. It provides an accessible text for teacher educators to support their students in engaging with the key debates and reflecting upon their practice. Key changes in structural approaches, such as the movement between streaming, setting or mixed-ability teaching arrangements, are explored in the light of political trends, bringing this up to date with a discussion of current policy and practice.




  1. Introduction
  2. Ability-grouping: theory, policy and practice
  3. Riverside, Parkview and Avenue Primary Schools
  4. Ability labelling and pupil identity
  5. Ability-grouping and pedagogic practices
  6. More than pedagogy: the impacts of ability-grouping on primary practice and relationships
  7. How do pupils experience ability practices?
  8. Conclusion: Shall we just change the language?




Rachel Marks has been a primary school teacher and mathematics coordinator in both inner-city and rural schools, teaching pupils across the primary age-range. Her research interests include equity issues and the social context of schooling and she has a PhD in Mathematics Education in which she explored the implications of ability practices in primary school mathematics. She now works as a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Education at the University of Brighton where she teaches across a range of Initial Teacher Education and mathematics specialist courses and shares her research findings with teachers and educators across a variety of forums.

Ian Menter (AcSS) is Professor of Teacher Education and Director of Professional Programmes in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford.  He previously worked at the Universities of Glasgow, the West of Scotland, London Metropolitan, the West of England and Gloucestershire.  Before that he was a primary school teacher in Bristol, England.  His most recent publications include A Literature Review on Teacher Education for the 21st Century (Scottish Government) and A Guide to Practitioner Research in Education (Sage).  His work has also been published in many academic journals.

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Your Reviews on this book

This is a readable and informative book that engages with the hot topic of ability grouping. It is testamant to its pertinance that I am currently without my copy, as yet another Primary Education lecturer colleague has removed it from my desk!

Georgina Merchant, UCL Institute of Education
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