In 2017, we introduced a mixed ability model across the whole school. This model is used extensively in many schools and has been in place in the vast majority of subjects at Monkseaton Middle for many years. This decision is based on educational research. One of the key findings of the research is that setting has no long term benefit for any level of ability. There is generally very little movement between groups for students; setting can cause students to have low aspirations and limits the access to more difficult concepts. The most able students are support to excel and reach mastery within the curriculum while those who find learning more of a challenge are exposed to excellent role models.
We believe in getting the best for all of our children, regardless of their starting point, therefore the philosophy behind our change is that we will set high expectations for all children, and support through appropriate differentiation for those that need it. All children have access to the relevant curriculum content and, through differentiated approaches there is sufficient support as well as stretch and challenge for all children to meet their potential.
Throughout our staff professional development programme, we have trained teachers in how to differentiate their instruction to support all children. Using a hierarchical approach to setting learning objectives is one method, so that, as children achieve at one level, they can be pushed on to the next, requiring a deeper understanding. This is also reflected in the way in which we question children so that there are opportunities for students to develop greater independence and higher order thinking skills. We plan and prepare lessons that encourage co-operative learning, in which children with different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding in a subject. Not only has this approach been proven to have a positive effect on academic progress but also social and emotional development.