Patten hints at return to academic streaming

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The Independent Online
MODERN teaching methods such as mixed-ability teaching are to blame for under-achievement among British schoolchildren, John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, said last night, writes Fran Abrams.

In a speech hinting at further moves towards academic selection, he said teacher-training institutions were to blame.

Mr Patten has denied that he would like to reintroduce grammar schools, but he does want more academic streaming within schools. He also wants to see less group work in primary school classes and more emphasis on the 'Three Rs'.

Mr Patten told Tory party members in his Oxford West and Abingdon constituency that teacher-training institutions which refused to challenge existing beliefs about the best ways to teach could be penalised. 'Mixed-ability teaching . . . may still have some sort of a role, but a focus on it to the exclusion of all other methods fails the least able as much as the brightest child,' he said.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said Mr Patten had failed to understand child development. There was no ideal teaching method because children were different from one another.