MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: In this paper we report baseline findings from a large study of grouping practices in state-funded secondary schools in England. The study seeks to improve our understanding of how students are grouped for their English and mathematics classes, and the potential impact of different grouping practices on student outcomes and experiences of schooling. This paper draws on a survey of 597 teachers and 34 teacher interviews in schools where students are grouped by their attainment for the subject. It focuses on teacher perspectives on teaching and learning in the lower attainment groups.
We found that students in the lower attainment groups were typically constructed as learners who benefit from specific approaches to learning justified through discourses of nurturing and protection. Most teachers felt that students in the lower attainment groups were not able to access learning independently from their teachers in comparison with their peers in the higher attainment groups. Some teachers for example described students in the lower attainment groups as ‘more dependent on people’ and students in the higher attainment groups as ‘independent learners.’