IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Ability grouping and social justice: findings from the Best Practice in Grouping Students project

23 May 2017, 4:15 pm–5:45 pm

Secondary class group work. Image: Wellington College via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Event Information

Open to



Room 780, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

Grouping students by 'ability' is a topic of long-standing contention in education policy, research and practice, in England and internationally.

Research suggests that young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are doubly disadvantaged as evidence shows they are over-represented in low sets and streams, where students tend to make less progress.

This presentation reports emerging findings from the Education Endowment Foundation-funded and BERA Curriculum Award-winning 'Best Practice in Grouping Students' project, based at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and led by IOE Director, Professor Becky Francis. The project is a longitudinal, mixed methods project that involves 139 secondary schools in England.

The aim of the project is to improve outcomes for students in lower-attaining groups without detriment to those with high prior attainment. Research methods include surveys, qualitative interviews and focus groups, and Randomised Control Trial.

The presentation will draw on data from the pilot and main phases of the project to explore the attitudes of teachers and students to mixed attainment grouping, as well as the teachers' constructions of students in lower sets.

About the speakers

Dr Becky Taylor is Researcher Practitioner and Project Manager on the Best Practice in Grouping Students project. Dr Antonina Tereshchenko and Dr Anna Mazenod are Research Associates on the project.


This seminar is free and open to everyone. Please register by emailing richard.arnold@ucl.ac.uk.

Related links

Image: by Wellington College via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)