In the last week alone, I have heard an Ofsted inspector call for maths teachers to move to mixed ability teaching and an apparent ‘official’ government body insist that all pupils within a year group should always be learning the same mathematical concepts.
This has been pretty much a weekly occurrence now for the last year or so.
The explanation must be, of course, the striking new evidence that mixed ability teaching in mathematics is more impactful than teaching maths classes in sets, where learning content is targeted at the point in the journey through mathematics that each set has reached, right? There could be no other logical or defensible reason for such influential bodies to call on schools across the country to undertake such a huge change in their pedagogy, curriculum planning, teaching methods, staffing, timetabling, resourcing or fundamental beliefs, right?
This new evidence, which puts the nail in the coffin of the old setting vs mixed ability debate, must be so overwhelming, so robust and trialed that we should all fall in line with the calls from these official bodies, right?
The trouble is, there is no new evidence. Nothing at all. Nothing to suggest an urgent and state mandated response to hurry schools up and down the land to swap to mixed ability teaching. Zero.
Well, that’s kind of odd. Why would Ofsted and a Maths Hub be calling for this approach if there is no evidence to support such a call?