‘The Blue Table Means You Don’t Have a Clue’: the persistence of fixed-ability thinking and practices in primary mathematics in English schools (FORUM 1)

Author: RACHEL MARKS

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Publication date: March 1, 2013

RACHEL MARKS

The use of structured ability grouping is increasing in English primary schools and is regularly seen in primary mathematics classrooms. Ability is a normalised discourse with beliefs that some individuals are ‘born to do maths’ permeating society and infiltrating school practices. In this article, observation and interview data illustrate the persistence of fixed-ability thinking, even in situations where explicit ability-grouping practices are not used. The data analysis suggests a mismatch between mixed-ability practices and fixed-ability thinking, and the article argues that change will be difficult.

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