The Debate Over Ability Grouping

This paper, on grouping students by ability, a practice also known as setting or streaming, was written in 2004 during studies at Sheffield Hallam University towards my PGCE (teaching qualification) in secondary mathematics.


The main argument for streaming is briefly explained, and two important arguments against the practice are then enumerated. The first of these arguments suggests that streaming is inequitable, the second that (contrary to popular belief) streaming inhibits the academic progress of many pupils.


An attempt is made to locate this debate relative to the educational theories of Lev Vygotsky. The conclusion, which was deeply unsettling to me as the author, is that streaming is not the ideal but that its ill effects can be minimised if practioners are aware of the problems associated with streaming and take positive steps to counter them.


The assignment was graded an "Excellent" in all areas.