There are reports in today’s “Sunday Times” about Dave Cameron’s firming up on education policy. Apparently he recently visited a school in Plymouth that has abolished the concept of year groups and now always free movement of pupils up and down the school strata according to educational ability. When they arrive aged 11, pupils are comprehensively tested and then put into a group, matched against the whole school, as per their ability. Mr Cameron reports being impressed by a 15 year old doing AS Maths. It is, apparently, the solution to the failed educational theories of differentiation, inclusion and streaming.
When I first read this I nearly chocked on my nightly hot chocolate. No year group? Eh, gad, that’s me out of a job for starters. Then you get around the thinking it through. I urge you, approach this with an open mind.
Year groups are out – pastoral care and such are administered through vertical houses instead. Why shouldn’t a pupil who is academically gifted in, say, history be taught accelerated GCSE during lower years? I can’t think of a single reason why pupils of different ages shouldn’t work together. Schools could be timetabled as a single unit. Gifted pupils would finally find the challenge they need, mixed ability groups that fail students would be a thing of the past and (most importantly) teaching will become easier because you are aiming your lessons at a very specific academic target.
If you can think of the problems or issues with these then please leave them in the comments section.
Brilliant thinking going on here – not Tory thinking, but maybe Tory policy? Cameron is looking and learning from the best of the public sector. More power to your elbow, Dave.