Children as young as two years old risk being mentally scarred after being streamed by ability in nursery ahead of key primary school tests, a study of teachers has warned.
Half of the 188 schools surveyed by the National Education Union admitted grouping two to four-year-olds by ability for reading.
But teachers told researchers they worry that labelling pupils 'low ability' that young could have a lasting negative impact on their self esteem.
Children as young as two years old risk being mentally scarred after being streamed by ability in nursery schools ahead of key primary tests, a study of teachers has warned (file photo)
The NEU study considered the extent to which young children are divided into 'ability' groups for teaching, the impact on staff and pupils, and why this happens.
Teachers have concerns about the negative impact of grouping on children's confidence, self-esteem and aspirations.
In the survey of NEU teachers, 65% said children were aware which group they were in, and 45% said ability grouping damaged some children's self-esteem.
The study, carried out by researchers Alice Bradbury and Guy Roberts-Holmes from UCL Institute of Education, University College London, involved more than 1,400 teachers and leaders.
Research found many teachers felt they were expected to use ability grouping, and worried about the negative impact of the practice on their children.