Jump to content
About Us

Mixed ability groups


Recommended Posts


Each day after a long session of CI play we have a small group time where we normally split into our 3 key groups and do a group activity - might be exploring something new, direct teaching of a specific skill, circle time type activity etc. We always rotate around 3 different activities, then on the 2 other days we do something similar e.g. PSE - something that doesn't require 3 lots of resources. This system has worked well for a number of years with our mixed ability key groups. On occasion we will split them by ability but not very often. However, one of my TAs has asked me today if we are going to continue with the mixed ability grouping as she feels she's not doing it right - she finds it difficult to differentiate. I always give pointers as to how to differentiate but still she finds it difficult. I feel that she does fine and she is a worrier?

I'm not sure what to do. Do I stick with what we are doing and coach her through the activities to give her more confidence. I think the children benefit such a lot from mixed ability groupings. Or do I try to split the children by ability? This would mean that we would have to all do the same but differentiated focus each day e.g. all do number but at differing levels - which then becomes difficult in terms of resources. I wouldn't be able to rotate through the week as different children would be at different levels in different aspects so it just wouldn't work. At the moment we see all the key groups - all adults will stick with their activity but change the children each day to ensure that we all knew where the children were up to - particularly me as I'm responsible for all the assessments and reports.

Any advice/ideas would be gratefully received. I like the way we have worked so am automatically biased towards that way of working but you all might see a different side?

I would intend to keep some activities key group based to ensure that the children still got this special time.


Green Hippo xx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would keep it mixed,

we don't work like this (we don't have such focused activities) but whenever we come together is mixed ability and age.

Perhaps some coaching for your TA, why change when it works for you

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We do groups based firstly on age (we are pre school only) so the upcoming September cohort of leavers and the younger children from the other group we also have a two year area who have just one group. Secondly we then assess each child in the three prime areas each term this information then allows us to look at all children as individuals not just based on age alone and move group if needed this is only done after talking it through with parents. We do not move children around based on the other areas if learning.

We find that this works well for us as the leavers group can focus more intently on phonics, pen control, singing and reading can be more complicated. Also the younger group is more action, visual stimulated.

We use to do mixed age/ability groups but as part of our development through data assessment staff wanted to try this way and after running the new groupings for a year now I must say staff like it, parents love it and the children seem to get much more out of it, planning of the groups is also easier. I do miss though the mixed groups but for us the benefits are great so no going back (yet ha ha ha ) x - I'm tired and this may contain a woeful amount of spelling mistakes ! Sorry ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mixed ability for me, most of the time anyway. When I worked with ability groupings in nursery, and had the 'lower' group, I found their language just never moved on enough because there were no role models amongst their peers for them. There is a lot of research out there (look up Carol Dweck' s Mindset, Jo Boaler's work around ability grouping). Children learn fairly quickly that they are in the 'bottom' set/group, and this can affect self esteem, motivation, and future aspiration.


I would stick with your gut feeling, and look at what your TAs find difficult, and as you said, coach her through activities to build her confidence.

Good luck with it.

I am sure others might disagree, its a long standing hot potato debate that has run many years and will continue to, so its important to know why you sit where you do on this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)