Valid and valuable: lower attaining pupils’ contributions to mixed attainment mathematics in primary schools

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Existing research establishes that lower attaining pupils derive mathematical learning benefit from working in mixed attainment groupings. However, gains for lower attaining pupils are seen to derive from the contributions of higher attaining peers; evidence of the contributions that lower attaining pupils make to mixed attainment activity is currently lacking. This study contributes evidence of the merits of mixed attainment working through its focus on the mathematical contributions of lower attaining primary pupils to mixed attainment pair activity. It draws on the construct of mathematical noticing and focuses on the development of pupils’ noticing of mathematical pattern, structure and property. Close video analysis of pupils’ speech and action during paired activity establishes that primary school mixed attainment working can produce bi-directional benefits, with lower attaining pupils making important contributions to task progress and contributing mathematical insights in advance of and beyond those of their higher attaining partners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)208-225
    Number of pages18
    JournalResearch in Mathematics Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Paper received Janet Duffin award 2021 for the most important contribution to the journal Research in Mathematics Education :

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


    • lower attaining pupils
    • mixed attainment
    • mathematical noticing
    • primary education
    • Lower attaining pupils


    Dive into the research topics of 'Valid and valuable: lower attaining pupils’ contributions to mixed attainment mathematics in primary schools'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this