Institute of Education


IOE researchers ask teachers to examine grouping practices within their schools

6 March 2019

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) researchers have been asking teachers to pledge to reflect on grouping practices within their schools as part of an event held yesterday evening (5 March).

Teacher helping student in class. Image: Kirsten Holst for UCL

Academics from the ‘Best practice in grouping students’ project presented their research findings and asked teachers to use research evidence when examining setting. They also encouraged teachers to begin conversations about setting with colleagues. 

The project, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation, found that setting is associated with negative effects such as the misallocation of students to set groups, which disadvantages particular pupil groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students. The practice also has detrimental effects on self-confidence with pupils feeling those in low attainment groups receive ‘dumbed down’ teaching. Low attainment groups are also less likely to be taught by a subject specialist.

Sign up to the pledge

Speaking at the event, the researchers expressed that instigating professional reflection and starting conversations on attainment grouping could help reduce poor practices and increase fairness.

The event also provided a look at future plans on this work, including a new ‘Student Grouping Study’.  The IOE study is investigating the impact of mixed attainment grouping and setting on outcomes in mathematics for students aged 11-13.

Speakers at the event included IOE Director Professor Becky Francis, Christine Gilbert, Education Adviser and Visiting Professor at the IOE, Professor Jeremy Hodgen (IOE) and Matt Smith, Deputy Headteacher, Huntington School.

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations
T: +44 (0)20 3108 8515 / +44 (0)7769 141 006
E: rowan.walker@ucl.ac.uk