Perspectives on 'Choice and Challenge' in primary schools

Sara Bragg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses ‘Choice and Challenge’ as a tool for school improvement and as a ‘practicable pedagogy’ that attempts to embody the principles of ‘learning without limits’, rejecting ability grouping and labelling (Hart, Dixon, Drummond, & McIntyre, 2004). As considered here, ‘Choice and Challenge’ emerges specifically from practice at the Wroxham School, led by Alison Peacock, which was the subject of the book Creating Learning Without Limits (Swann, Peacock, Hart, & Drummond, 2012). The approach involves teachers providing children with a range of options set at different levels of ‘challenge’, and allowing them to work through the activities themselves, in dialogue with teachers and peers. It aims to motivate children in more enabling ways than grades and ranking, facilitating children’s own reflection on and awareness of themselves as learners in a collaborative and non-competitive environment. It can be seen as inducing change by giving educators a ‘hook’ that delivers positive classroom experiences and thereby encourages openness to the broader philosophy and values on which it rests. The small-scale research project reported on here investigated the implementation of the approach in six primary schools around England. It aims to illuminate the some of issues encountered in doing so, thus stimulating reflection by those wishing to adopt similar approaches to improve schools and enhance social justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-93
Number of pages14
JournalImproving Schools
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2016


  • ability grouping
  • primary
  • challenge curriculum
  • assessment
  • action research


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