Ruth’s Blog: Don’t confuse grouping with setting

I had to pass Grade 4 to join the school orchestra. Three years of lessons and practice – just to scrape into the second violins. It was worth it though. Working with better players raised my game.

Music lessons are graded so children learn incrementally. Joining an orchestra would be terrifying if you couldn’t play to a reasonable level.

Reading is the same. If you joined a class where everyone could read fluently, but you were still working out the words, you would soon have high stress levels.

That’s why we group by incremental phonic stages. Unlike setting and streaming, it allows us to whisk children through the stages, irrespective of age. Teachers teach to the group’s challenge level, quickly identify children who need to move on, and provide extra support later in the day to the few who need more practice.

The sooner we get children out of the reading gate, the sooner they’re free to learn in every lesson, in whichever organisational system a school chooses to use.

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