David Cameron: Put all pupils in maths and English sets based on their ability

In what it claims is “an apparent hint at future Tory education policy”, the Mail is reporting that David Cameron has said all schools should put pupils in sets based on ability…

…In an interview with Woman & Home magazine, the Prime Minister said: ‘All schools, in my view, should set by ability, particularly in English and maths.’

…Last autumn the Tories announced plans to allow setting to be imposed to help turn around failing schools.

Although Mr Cameron’s comments suggest he wants to go considerably further, a senior Tory source insisted he was not announcing new policy…

The source said: ‘As his comments suggest, the Prime Minister is a very strong supporter of setting – it’s about placing children with others of similar ability so that they can learn at the right pace.

‘Where a school is failing we think it is right that part of the toolkit for putting things right should include bringing in setting.

‘The vast majority of schools already set in core subjects, and if there is a successful school doing very well without setting then we would not impose it – we want to take a pragmatic approach…”

Under the existing Tory plans, announced last autumn, regional schools commissioners would be given new powers to impose setting in failing schools as part of a package to turn them around…

More at: Put ALL pupils in maths and English sets based on their ability to improve performance, says Cameron


Thoughts and reactions to these comments from the prime minister? And are there many schools that don’t actually set by ability to at least some degree now?


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove It’s great to see David Cameron draw on his years of experience in the classroom to come to this conclusion

  2. andylutwyche

    h_emoney SchoolsImprove Presumably, as is the nature of most (if not all) politicians he is sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong

  3. DiLeed

    Anyone following Cameron’s setting diktat shd ensure EAL children are indeed set according to ABILITY not FLUENCY, ‘particularly in maths’

  4. VictoriaJaquiss

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove It’s all about giving the haves even more with you, Dave. Since when did you get the complexities of education?

  5. Par4Ed

    HeyMissSmith Just standard Tory dogwhistling to parents who think their own offspring would naturally be in the top set. See also grammars.

  6. Janet2 Yes, that’s what the evidence shows:  less able students benefit from working with more able ones as they have their thinking triggered by better ideas.
    The EEF list is one of three sources used by EBTN – and Hattie’s list has the same conclusions.

  7. whatonomy

    AlexanderHurle HeyMissSmith one major flaw in the EEF toolkit: it doesn’t have a graphic representing ‘what David Cameron thinks’.

  8. MartinIllingwor

    SchoolsImprove What foolish nonsense. Relies on children having no capacity to learn but just trundle along in their allotted group. V.poor

  9. helenreesbidder

    SchoolsImprove perhaps he should focus on his own job, as it doesn’t seem to be going too well. Leave teaching to teachers.

  10. Locallearning2

    SchoolsImprove why bother with tests for labeling & self fulfilling prophecy?Just set kids according to social class. Reduces workload too.

  11. YorkFarmGirl

    SchoolsImprove I have got into habit of sitting chn mixed ability. Especially for maths – seen a growth in confidence as well as progress

  12. YorkFarmGirl

    SchoolsImprove leaving teaching to teacher. Don’t tell us how to do our job. Think Gov should focus on learning how to do its job first!

  13. EnglishJenB

    SchoolsImprove There’s benefits to both but why can’t teachers decide what’s best for their schools/students? #sticktothedayjob

  14. ApexEducate

    SchoolsImprove great-condemning more young people with a predetermined view of their potential. Bring on #growthmindset

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