A challenge to groupthink

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
ORGANISING CLASSROOMS TO PROMOTE LEARNING FOR ALL CHILDREN: Two Pieces of Action Research. By Deborah Lucas and Gary Thomas. All studies on this page are published in Putting Research into Practice in Primary Teaching and Learning, edited by Suzi Clipson-Boyles, David Fulton Publishers, pound;15

The traditional way of seating children in groups can hamper the inclusion of pupils with special needs and encourage disruptive behaviour generally. When the national curriculum dictates that children carry out a great deal of work individually, sitting in groups provides distractions, particularly for children with learning difficulties, according to research studies. They show that the way teachers organise a classroom has a profound impact on how the diverse needs of pupils are met.

Two investigations int classroom "geography" found that those sitting on their own, or on the edge of the classroom activity, work better than those who are in groups.

One researcher reorganised a classroom by joining the children's tables together in a ring and then seating pupils so they faced toward the walls. The carpet was moved to the centre of the room and became the meeting place for group work and discussions. The teacher had no fixed place and so would circulate, giving help where needed.

The result was a reduction in distractions, increased concentration, a heightened sense of inclusiveness, a greater sense of independence and self-control and a quieter working environment. Teachers were also able to pre-empt difficulties arising among some children and help those who had acknowledged problems.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today