The way a large number of schools are set up in the UK, with classes grouping children based on their ability, may be severely affecting pupil's self-confidence.
This is according to a new substantial study by experts from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education (IOE), Queen's University Belfast and Lancaster University, who looked at more than 9,000 12-to-13-year-old students taking part in “setted” maths and English classes - when classes are grouped by children's ability). The team, who published their results in the 'British Journal of Sociology of Education', found that not only is there a "worrying" self-confidence gap between students in the top and bottom sets, but, for those in maths sets, the gap in general self-confidence in fact widens over time - something the report states is "deeply concerning".
Commenting on their findings, Professor Jeremy Hodgen of UCL Institute of Education stated that the study has "potentially important implications for social justice", with the growing gap risking "cementing existing inequalities rather than dissipating them".
"Low attainers are being ill-served in schools that apply the setting, and low attainment groups are shown to be disproportionately populated by pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds and from particular ethnic groups.
"Our results have important implications for interventions directed at addressing disadvantage in education. In terms of social in/justice, our findings suggest that setting is indeed promoting both distributional and recognitive injustice."