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Education in the media: Friday 1 December 2017

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at grouping by ability in early years settings.

Grouping by ability

Today, Friday 1 December, the National Education Union (NEU) published research that suggests children as young as three are being grouped by ability at nurseries and in early years settings. The research has found that grouping is seen as an expected practice, encouraged by senior leadership teams, to prepare children for Phonics Screening Checks and Key Stage 1 SATs.

This story was covered by the Guardian, BBC Online, TES, Schools Week and Nursery World.

We trust teachers and early years staff to make the best decisions for the children they work with. Our Early Years Statutory Framework sets out that teachers must make sure pupils are kept healthy and safe and recognise that children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates. There is no statutory requirement within the framework that children should be grouped by ability. We are also clear that schools should not be ‘teaching to the test’ to help improve standards – pupils must learn a broad and balanced curriculum.

Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill said:

Teachers and early years staff are best placed to make decisions about the teaching methods they use. There is no statutory requirement that suggests children should be grouped by ability. We are clear that while assessment is a fundamental part of children’s education to measure progress, it should not cause significant stress or anxiety

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