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Early years ability grouping and the pedagogical constraints upon children’s learning identities

Roberts-Holmes, G; Kitto, E; (2019) Early years ability grouping and the pedagogical constraints upon children’s learning identities. Education 3-13 , 47 (7) pp. 854-861. 10.1080/03004279.2019.1622506. Green open access

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Abstract

Despite research demonstrating that attainment-based grouping has little, if any, overall benefits there is an increasing trend towards ability grouping in the early years. Using an ethnographic case study the article demonstrates how different pedagogical approaches are used with different ‘ability’ groups. The pedagogical experiences of children, especially within ‘low’ ability groups potentially limit children’s exposure to the tools required for successful participation in school. This varied pedagogy serves to govern, limit and constrain some young children’s aspirations and expectations and operates as a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the perception of ‘ability’ is seen as fixed, it influences the interactional experiences of children within different groups which, consequently, enhances or contains children’s future participation in school activity. The article concludes by suggesting that early years ability grouping needs to be contested and alternative pedagogies tried. This requires a reduction in ‘high stakes’ performance data and trust placed in early years teachers’ pedagogical decision-making processes.

Type: Article
Title: Early years ability grouping and the pedagogical constraints upon children’s learning identities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2019.1622506
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2019.1622506
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: pedagogy, ability grouping, learner identities
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077380
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