Does ability grouping affect UK primary school pupils’ enjoyment of Maths and English?

Authors: Vikki Boliver, Queralt Capsada-Munsech,
Issue: 2022
Link to Publication (External Site)

This paper looks at how pupils’ enjoyment of the subjects they study is affected by the ability groups in which they are placed.

Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study, which follows a sample of children born in the UK between 2000 and 2002, it finds those in a low ability group were less likely to come to enjoy, continue to enjoy, or increase their enjoyment of Maths between the ages of 7 and 11.

This is true even after controlling for pupils’ measured ability in Maths at age 7, along with their gender and social class background.

Similar differences were found in relation to enjoyment of English and of school generally. However, these were not found to be statistically significant once other background factors had been controlled for.

Overall the findings suggest ability grouping in primary schools does more harm than good, at least in relation to pupils’ enjoyment of Maths.

This is part of a special issue prepared by the LIFETRACK project. Other articles of this special issue can be found here.