Institute of Education


The evidence on grouping by attainment: supporting more equitable practice in schools

5:30 pm to 6:45 pm, 05 March 2019

School children at desks

Longstanding research has suggested that setting and streaming have little impact overall, but disadvantages pupils placed in low groups. But why, then, do the practices remain so prevalent?

Event Information

Open to





Kate Thomas, IOE Directorate


15 Hatfields
Chadwick Court

Setting and streaming - or 'tracking', as grouping by attainment is known in the US - has long been a point of controversy in schooling. This is an issue for social justice, given that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, and from particular ethnic groups, are over-represented in low attainment groups.

This event will report key findings from the Best Practice in Grouping Students Project; a research project funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. In addition to sharing findings on attainment grouping and social inequality, evidence-based strategies for improving the equity of grouping for students will be presented.

We will hear responses to our research from key education voices and share plans for a new study which will add further to our understanding of the impact of different grouping strategies on secondary school students' outcomes and experiences.

The ‘Better grouping pledge’ will also be launched, which asks schools to commit to reflect on and adapt their grouping practices for greater fairness.

Speakers include

  • Christine Gilbert, Education Adviser and Visiting Professor, UCL Institute of Education (Chair)
  • Matt Smith, Deputy Headteacher, Huntington School
  • Professor Becky Francis, Project Director and Director of UCL Institute of Education
  • Professor Jeremy Hodgen, Chair of Mathematics Education, UCL Institute of Education


Registration is required. This talk is free to attend, and will be followed by a drinks reception. Join in the conversation on Twitter with #BPGSlaunch.