'Our obsession with grouping students is becoming ridiculous'

4th April 2016 at 15:01
personal data students Jisc
Primary deputy head Michael Tidd takes a satirical look at the habit of grouping students for data-reporting purposes

Have you had a pupil progress meeting lately? Or a data review? Or some other opportunity to sit, as a staff, staring at a spreadsheet?

If so, I bet you talked about "groups". Your tracking software probably has an option to compare boys and girls, or disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils, or summer- and autumn-born pupils.

Mine does.

I fear, though, that these pre-set groups never really get to the heart of the matter. I think we need to push this grouping further.

Perhaps we should compare football fans with non-fans, or left- and right-handers, to get some clarity.

But my biggest concern currently is that we do not give proper consideration to how we address the education deficit for those pupils living at even-numbered houses.

You see, I’ve looked into this and it’s a real area of concern.

The plight of the even-numbered

We thought maybe we needed to do some work on girls’ reading – we seem to have a gap of nearly 10 per cent between the two genders for those achieving our expected-standard-guess (ESG).

But my worries about that particular accident of birth soon paled into insignificance when compared with the imbalance between those living at odd and even-numbered houses. The proportion of pupils living at even-numbered houses achieving the expected standard was a full 18 percentage points lower than for those living at odd-numbered houses.

Imagine my panic!

Alas, interventions are trickier in this new world of grouping. Out will go the books selected to appeal to girls, and I am planning some rigorous interventions for the poor even-numbered folks.

I have already started a petition for an Even Pupil Funding grant (PLEASE SIGN!), which I will spend on things like lockers with odd numbers for all.

And research. We definitely need more research. Research should give us the answers we need to ensure that every child from an even-numbered house achieves. We could not possibly think of some solutions ourselves. 

Of course, saying all this is one thing, but making sure it happens is quite another. And what about all the other groupings we have not yet discovered? We have a massive hill to climb if we are to ensure every grouping is covered. I am particularly worried about the comparison of Nottingham Forest fans to non-fans.

Alas, in the meantime, we’ll just have to try to teach all of the children in our classes to the best of our ability. We’ll have to treat them like individuals. We’ll have to do something that we are, I like to think, pretty damn good at: teaching.

Michael Tidd is deputy head of Edgewood primary in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire

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