What’s your label?

Are you a hap or an aap? Or even worse, maybe you belong in that dreadful group of laps!  Puzzled? Confused? Not if you’re a teacher I bet! Some ideas die hard and none more so than the idea of the three groups of pupils in every class, the high ability, average ability (generally where your teaching is directed?) and the low ability.

Even in Reception, at the age of 3 or 4, one of these labels may well be applied to each and every child. It’s all done with the best intentions, dividing the children up into ability groups so that they can be taught more accurately.

The trouble is that with any label, it sticks and often doesn’t fall off. That low ability 4 year old may just have not liked his lessons at that time, not been ready for formal teaching, wanted to be back at home, any number of reasons totally unconnected with ability. Equally the high ability child may well have come from a home where they were given time and space to be heard and simply had confidence at school, not necessarily high abililty.

Where are they in 6 years time? The high ability child (probably a girl) is struggling to work in higher sets and her teachers keep being told that she needs to be pushed as ‘she is falling off target’, the lower ability child (almost certainly a boy) has gained a reputation for messing about and is still in lower sets despite showing signs of being clever.

Does this sound familiar? I hope that it doesn’t but I’ve certainly got both of those children in my class at the moment. It’s unavoidable to a certain extent with KS2 results still being extrapolated from foundation stage scores.

Some cchools I know have changed the label so that hap now stands for higher achieving pupil which doesn’t say anything about ability. But it’s still a label and it will still stick! I will carry on arguing this point in my own school and hope that people reading this are well past this stage already.

This post was inspired by something I read earlier today on the same subject but looking at older children
http://www.informededucation.com/?p=222

This struck a chord with me as I was advised not to do Maths A level as I only got a C at o level. I did it anyway and went on to do maths as part of my degree. From there I have gone on to becoming a Primary Maths Specialist.

Don’t label your children. Please.

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