Bright pupils are being failed by the ‘curse of mixed-ability classes’ says Ofsted head

Bright schoolchildren are being failed by the “curse” of mixed-ability classes because teachers are tailoring lessons towards average and low-skilled pupils, according to the head of Ofsted. This is from the Telegraph…

Thousands of teenagers with aspirations for Oxbridge are being let down by state schools after being given the same tuition as those at the opposite end of the ability range, said Sir Michael Wilshaw.

In a powerful warning to head teachers, he said that schools in England should be more concerned with “good educational practice” than “social engineering”.

Schools will be marked down in official inspections this year for failing to show that the needs of the very brightest children were being met, Sir Michael said.

It suggests more schools are likely to opt to place pupils in low, middle and top ability sets, despite evidence of a decline in setting and streaming over the last decade.

The chief inspector also criticised the growing practice of entering pupils early for GCSEs amid claims that it “limited the potential” of gifted pupils by not giving them enough time to develop.

The comments were made as the Government prepared to publish a national breakdown of results in primary school Sats tests today.

An Ofsted analysis has shown that around one-in-five pupils who gain top scores in English and maths at the age of 11 currently fail to go on to gain A* or A grades in GCSEs at the end of secondary education.

Sir Michael said that the education of bright schoolchildren and pupils who struggle the most in lessons would be one of Ofsted’s top priorities for the forthcoming academic year.

Many of the most talented pupils were currently let down by a “combination of factors”, he said.

“We believe at Ofsted that it is a combination of low expectations of what these youngsters can achieve, that their progress is not sufficiently tracked and what I would call… the curse of mixed-ability classes without mixed-ability teaching,” he said.

“We have got to really make sure that heads know what they are doing and are more concerned with good educational practice than doing something that’s more akin to social engineering.”

More at: Ofsted: mixed-ability classes ‘a curse’ on bright pupils

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