Composite classes where DC is one of youngest but also most able

(12 Posts)
BirdyBedtime Wed 23-Apr-14 13:50:50

DS's school is probably going to have composite classes next year. In our LA the guidance is that this is done purely by age so DS will be in the older half of the composite IYSWIM with half the class from the year below (they will be P1 so just starting school proper).

He is currently in one of the 'top' reading groups and, despite his being the second youngest in his class, described by his teacher as one of the most able and mature. I know that teachers differentiate etc and I know that there have been lots of threads on this before and I know that there is nothing I can do to change this BUT ........

All of the children he is friends with are in the older half of the year so none of them will be in his new class (but chances are that they will all be together due to ages). He has always responded best when challenged and being with older children who he can learn from (be it swimming, nursery etc) so I'm really concerned that without any older children to aspire to he might regress or slow in progression.

I guess I'm just looking for some positive stories if your DC has been in the same situation ie youngest and most able in 'proper' year but in the upper half of a composite.

My DS is August born,and very able, so when they jumbled the classes up in his y4, I was very worried.

But actually, it was an amazingly successful couple of years for him. He made lots of new friends and it boosted his confidence no end, as now he was one of the oldest rather than the youngest. Although he has always been very academic, he struggled enormously socially, but we found that the older children from the year below were much more on his level.

BirdyBedtime Wed 23-Apr-14 15:03:51

Thanks Laura. Great to hear that your DS benefitted from this. DH did comment that it might not do him any harm to be one of the older ones for a while.

He was one of very few of his group of friends at nursery who started P1 last year - several were literally weeks beyond the cut off and too young to start and a few others were deferred, so he will probably know quite a few in his class from the year below.

AllabouttheE Wed 23-Apr-14 18:57:16

We have a 45 intake and I feel the same as you.
My DD sits firmly in the middle of the year group, spends one year with older children and one year with younger.

She has strived more for success with the older children.
She is less confident with younger ones as she is a relatively timid but bright girl. Having older more confident children around her brings her out. Whereas being the brightest but not wanting to stand out with the younger ones seems to put her back in her shell.

I look at it that it's an all walks of life scenario. She needs to experience both types IYSWIM

Annoying but nowt to be done about it.

RuthlessBaggage Wed 23-Apr-14 19:22:49

This happened to me. I was ok because (and only because) there were other equally-able children in my age group. By Y5 they set us across the year (45 intake) with Y6 to target Maths very specifically. But when you're in the top set as the youngest, what do you do the next year but repeat it...?

So I was moved into the private sector.

It was worse for DB - he was only a couple of weeks off being old enough for the year above. School/LA would not move him up. He was totally unstretched every other year. My parents sent him private sooner.

Now of course that was twenty-odd years ago, but it goes to show that the cohort matters more than the age/class setup.

3DcAndMe Wed 23-Apr-14 19:23:44

This is going to happen to my ds in September too!

Euphemia Wed 23-Apr-14 19:29:01

My school is in a similar position, and we are going to press for the more able pupils to be in the "older" class, irrespective of birth date.

I have some pupils who could not cope with being around older children (eg P2-4), and others who would really benefit. It's a tricky balancing act!

BirdyBedtime Thu 24-Apr-14 08:57:00

That's interesting Euphemia - do you think the teachers views will be taken on board?

As I said our LA guidance is to go by age and the Head has said she doesn't want to veer from the guidance because if something goes wrong the LA won't support her. I can understand that reasoning, BUT still wonder why the LA go for age rather than ability. Surely for teachers it would be easier to teach a class of more similar abilities rather than age where surely there will be a wider range of abilities.

In my DS's likely class next year fair enough there will only be an age range of only 2 or 3 months, but I know that there are children in P1 now with close birthdays to him with very differing abilities and then add into that mix a wide range in the 'new' P1 group. Plus, although DS is young by age he is much more mature than many of his current classmates, many of whom are 9 months older, so I do worry that he'll find most of his new classmates a bit 'young' for him.

AllabouttheE - I know there's actually nothing I can do about it and wouldn't raise any of this in RL as the Head's mind is set, so I guess I'm just using MN as a sounding board.

On the plus side luckily they guarantee an experienced teacher and no job-shares for the composite classes, and the number will be limited to 25 whereas the straight P2 classes will likely be more like 28/9 due to numbers, and no SN children are put in the composites if at all possible.

iseenodust Thu 24-Apr-14 10:20:26

We had this with DS Aug born but academically able. Sorry but it was a complete nightmare. The previous year he had been working with the class above for maths. Even the small things like not getting out at quite the same time for lunch so not able to sit with friends. Class was heavy majority of girls but date of birth rule was not flexed in any way.

BirdyBedtime Thu 24-Apr-14 10:39:54

Sorry it didnt' work out for you iseenodust. That's a good point about lunches as our lunchtimes are staggered - might look into that. The head was concerned about gender balance but they've look at that at it works out OK.

fishtankbrain Fri 25-Apr-14 11:55:31

We had this situation with June born DS. 30 children in reception (bulge year) with oldest 20 to go into class 2 (along with 10 children staying in class 2 from year above) and remaining 10 to stay in class 1 with 20 new reception children.

We were concerned, as DS had a reading age of 7 when he entered school and was working at level 2c for reading and writing by the end of reception. We sat tight and tried to trust that the school knew what they were doing - on move up day, he went into class 2 as an exception. No fuss - they just did it. Maybe your school will do the same?

fishtankbrain Fri 25-Apr-14 12:00:27

Sorry, have just seen that your Head has said they will stick to LA policy. Our Head's position at a meeting with reception parents was that they would enforce the age cut off unless there was a situation where it was clearly inappropriate (working both ways, e.g. Older child perhaps with health difficulties which meant they had missed lots of school and would do better in the lower class). I think the teacher's input did count for a lot.

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