Groups and Labels

This will almost definitely turn into a badly written rant. However, if you are reading this, I have obviously decided to post it anyway. I want to reflect on the use of ‘labels’ and ‘groups’ in education and the – in my opinion – negative impact that they are having.

EAL, SEN (SA, SA+, Statement, ASD, ADHD, ADD, MLD, SLD etc…), HA/MA/LA, G&T, at ARE, below ARE, above ARE, girls, boys, FSM/PP…

These are just some of the labels that we give groups of children in our schools. These are just some of the ways that we group children (by classification) when; planning, teaching, assessing, analysing data and explaining our data.

The issue with this, is that we too easily forget about the ‘individual’. We plan for a group with a label, to meet the ‘need’ of the group, not the child. Whilst I am aware that I am generalising here and that this is not true of all schools and teachers, more often than not, it is the case. Many will argue that grouping children (with a common need or strength) is an effective way of teaching, learning, assessing and analysing data. I disagree. When I imagine a school, in which, labels are banned and children are not grouped together and taught by ability, I begin to see how individual children’s needs are met and strengths developed. I begin to see how children are encouraged to visualise what they want to do and dream about what they want to be. A place where the role of the teacher is to encourage them to dream big and help them achieve it.

One final thought. Children are becoming increasingly aware of the labels that we are giving them and the groups, in which, we are asking them to work. Children with the label ‘ADHD’ are starting to use the label as an excuse for demonstrating inappropriate behaviours. Children who work in the ‘low ability group’, supported by a TA/LSA, are continually having a lid put on their learning and will continue to live down to our low expectations.

The rant could continue. However, I am aware that I could be wrong about all of this! Comments and thoughts are most welcome.

Image from a great read!!!



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