Weaker pupils should be given the best teachers, report says

Weaker pupils should be given the best teachers to boost school grades, report says

  • A new study suggests that weaker students should be given the best teachers
  • Lower achieving pupils were found to benefit more from higher rated teachers 
  • Highly rated teachers were also less likely to be given to below-average pupils

The best teachers should be assigned to lower-ability pupils to raise a school’s GCSE grades, a report said yesterday.

The teachers were found to lift the grades of weaker pupils more than they could for ‘cleverer’ peers.

Academics at Bristol University used observers to rate 251 maths and English teachers in charge of 7,000 Year 11 pupils in England. Children taught by a teacher who had been rated as highly effective scored better than those taught by one from the bottom quartile.

This was seen to matter less for ‘relatively higher achieving students’ but made a greater difference for average or below-average pupils.

A new study suggest giving the highest rated teachers to the lowest achieving students, as their grades will benefit more than higher achieving students (stock image)

The research by Bristol University (pictured) academics found that lower-achieving students’ are less likely to be given highly rated teachers

Professor Simon Burgess, study lead author, said: ‘Whether you have an effective teacher is by far the most important factor influencing pupils’ GCSEs, outside of family background. Now we know the added importance of effective teaching for lower-achieving pupils.’

The report added: ‘Our finding is that lower-achieving students’ GCSE scores appear to benefit more from highly rated teachers than do their higher-achieving peers’ scores.’

It notes that in the research ‘as elsewhere’, lower-achieving pupils were less likely to be assigned highly rated teachers and that ‘this pattern emphasises the importance of thoughtful decisions about assigning students to teachers’.

The research also found that in maths, pupils gained higher marks at GCSE with teachers who gave more time to individual practice, whereas for English more time working with classmates led to higher grades.

‘Our results suggest the typical maths teacher should work on student practice, perhaps increasing class time for practice or focusing on building related teaching skills,’ the report says.

‘But the typical English teacher should start with peer group work, not individual practice,’ it adds.

The report says that the difference in the kinds of classroom activities used could impact pupils’ future earnings long term because of the impact on their GCSE grades.

The typical change in the use of lesson time, leading to higher GCSE grades and better salaries, generated an extra £150,000 of lifetime income every year for a class of 30 pupils, the report says.

Variations in classroom activities also accounted for around a third of the total influence teachers had on their pupils’ GCSE grades.  

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