Are our schools set to fail students in maths?

Ability grouping is all the rage in Scotland – but it could risk leaving some children behind.


My Name is Emma Seith and as a teenager I was in a one of the bottom classes for maths. It feels good to get that off my chest.


That general-foundation maths class was carnage. The teacher had no control over his motley crew of maths failures. He was well-intentioned – kind even. But when the backdrop to his lessons was Barry Murphy letting off in Jenny McDonald’s face, having climbed on her desk beforehand in order to get the best possible angle, our attention was somewhat divided.


At my school you could glean your level of maths mediocrity by the teacher you were given. And when you reached the status of mathematical whizz, you found yourself taught by the head of department.


Needless to say, I never had the pleasure. But I did claw my way out of general-foundation, which, during that era at least, was akin to clawing your way out of the deepest, darkest pit of hell. I would like to say it was all down to me, but without my pushy parents I fear it’s possible I would have been condemned to breathe in that sulphuric stench for the full two years.


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