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Factors deterring schools from mixed attainment teaching practice

Taylor, Becky; Francis, Becky; Archer, Lousie; Hodgen, Jeremy; Pepper, David; Tereschchenko, Antonina; Travers, Mary-Clare


Becky Taylor

Becky Francis

Lousie Archer

Jeremy Hodgen

David Pepper

Antonina Tereschchenko

Mary-Clare Travers


Mixed-attainment teaching has strong support from research and yet English schools are far more likely to teach students in ‘ability’ groups. Although research has considered some of the specific benefits of mixed-attainment grouping, there has been little attention to the reasons schools avoid it. This article explores data from the pilot and recruitment phases of a large-scale study into grouping practices and seeks to identify reasons for the low rate of mixed attainment grouping in English secondary schools. We report on our struggle to recruit schools, and explore the different explanations provided by teachers as to why mixed attainment practice is seen as problematic. The difficulties are characterised as a vicious circle where schools are deterred by a paucity of exemplars and resources and the educational climate is characterised as fearful, risk-averse and time-poor. Suggestions are made as to strategies to support schools in taking up mixed attainment practices.


Taylor, B., Francis, B., Archer, L., Hodgen, J., Pepper, D., Tereschchenko, A., & Travers, M. (2017). Factors deterring schools from mixed attainment teaching practice. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 25(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2016
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2016
Publication Date Aug 5, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 17, 2016
Journal Pedagogy, Culture and Society
Print ISSN 1468-1366
Electronic ISSN 1747-5104
Publisher Taylor & Francis Open
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 3
Keywords mixed attainment grouping, English secondary schools, ability grouping, fear, setting
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Pedagogy, Culture and Society on 10/11/2016, available online:


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