'We call it: teaching them at their own ability'

30th June 2006 at 01:00
Denise Maruszczak acknowledges that streaming pupils is not a particularly fashionable way to teach. The literacy co-ordinator at Ebor Gardens primary, in Leeds, said: "We don't actually say streaming: we say teaching them at their own ability.

"If you try to meet the needs of a wide range, you won't hit anybody's spot. But if the children are at the same level, they can all participate fully. There are very few behaviour problems - it's not rocket science."

Ebor Gardens has been following the Success for All scheme, recommended by the Social Market Foundation in its new report, for the past six years. Ms Maruszczak believes that it has enabled her to focus on the particular needs of her pupils, 64 per cent of whom receive free school meals.

"We teach sparky younger children with more experienced older ones," she said. "The older children feel they're bringing their experience into the group. They learn to express themselves, to debate, perhaps argue with their teacher. Though not too much."

Success for All includes regular assessment, enabling children to move sets. Ms Maruszczak said that this, too, could be seen as controversial.

"We feel testing is necessary," she said. "Sats are stressful, because they're the culmination of a year of work. Our children are assessed every six weeks. It's part of their school life. It's about them owning their own learning, feeling they're moving on."

Farahnaz Neda, 10, is happy to be taught with younger pupils. "It's nice to know lots of people," she said. "Sometimes I play with the little children at break, and sometimes I hang around with mates from my class. It's good to have a choice."

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