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Mike Fleetham Mike's Thinking Classroom Blog

05

On Mixed Age Teaching

I recently chatted with a Head and friend who's currently wrestling with the idea of vertical class groupings. Many factors come to bear upon a decision like this. But we came across two pieces of research that provide direction for others making this important choice:

This paper from Dr Chris Berry at the IOE suggests that there is no pedagogical reason for mixed age classes and that his recent findings stack up well with those from 30 years ago. But in an intriguing piece by Richard Llewellyn Greenfield from the FIPC (download here) he proposes that although the decision to mixed-age-group is usually not a pedagogical one it is often dressed up as if it was. Educators are lead to believe that a political decision is actually a pedagogical one.

Our conclusions were that great caution is needed when arranging children by set criteria - age, ability, attitude and that what works in one context may not transfer to another. At the end of the day, my friend felt he'd need a very strong argument, evidence and a value-based judgement before he made any changes which might threaten his pupils' progress and their life chances.

What are your experiences of mixed age grouping and the factors that caused you to do it or not? 

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