Deciding ‘ability’ and ‘potential’, or learning without limits

alison peacock

Alison Peacock is becoming very widely known, and rightly so, for her advocacy of learning without limits, and her challenge to core assumptions of the English education system with its constant sorting and ranking, ability tables and setting.

The world of test-based accountability is based on the assumption that pupils’ later scores can be more-or-less predictably linked to their earlier ones, plus or minus a little extra teacher effort. Words such as ‘ability’ and ‘potential’ float around without anyone thinking what they might mean. Is ability something fixed? How can ‘potential’ be predetermined? It has become almost impossible to think beyond simple linear notions of learning.

Alison Peacock resolutely avoids labelling children like this. In this recent conference talk, she explains some of her work at Wroxham Primary School, arguing that children must be allowed (and enabled) to surprise us. She also argues against versions of ‘leadership’ and ‘school improvement’ that label teachers.

See also our earlier post on schools moving beyond fixed ability thinking.

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