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Streams of ability

Bridgemary school in Gosport, Hampshire, broke the mould in September last year by setting children according to ability rather than age, writes Sadie Gray.

It has been a great success, said Cheryl Heron, the headteacher.

"It's changed the culture. We're a challenging school in a deprived area and kids are talking about learning and aspirations. A lot of them want to progress.

However, people always want to look at results. In the key stage 3 SATs, we had a 10 per cent increase across the board. Our reading points went up 14 points."

Bridgemary began the new setting with the core subjects and is expanding it to other subjects. Teachers have found they can also have groups of children of the same age but can aim the study at a higher or lower level than would normally be dictated.

The scheme has resulted in a degree of liberation for teachers, as differentiation is much easier and they can concentrate more on schemes of work, Mrs Heron said.

"You're not holding children back and you're not pushing children back. The only downside is we don't have enough time in our day for flexibility, but that's the next stage."

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