Mixing up classes - is it a good thing or not?

(19 Posts)
MamOfTwo Sat 19-Jul-14 22:02:07

It has been announced that my DC's class is being mixed up (unexpectedly) for the next academic year (two-form entry). What would be the reasons for doing this? And did it work out if your DC is in a school that does this?

NynaevesSister Sat 19-Jul-14 22:23:17

What year are they going into? Son is at a three form entry and his year has been mixed up going in to year 4. This was to readdress balance issues that had inadvertently arisen. The year is boy-heavy anyway and with transfers etc over 4 years one class ended up with 22 boys in it. They moved them around so the classes were more balanced.

I have since learned that, although rare, there have been other mix ups to re-address balance issues. Specifically to get a more even spread of ability.

blossom101001 Sat 19-Jul-14 22:45:22

In Australia, they do it every year if there is more than one class per year group. Teaches students how to make new friends.

WipsGlitter Sat 19-Jul-14 22:51:02

Our school doesn't do it. I think it would / might help if a child was feeling out of sync with their current class, they might click with a child from a new class or bond more with the original class if they were mixed.

I would worry it was a ruse for streaming children.

iklboo Sat 19-Jul-14 22:58:15

DS has been in a mixed 3/4 year and has done really well (he was year 3). Same again next year but they gave a different teacher to 'mix it up'.

DeWee Sun 20-Jul-14 00:56:14

If you read through my old posts, I'm quite anti-mixing. I'm not totally against, but I think there's a lot more negatives than schools present to you.
All mine went though infants (2 form entry) and then Juniors (6 form entry)

Dd1 went through school never mixed up (except when going infants to juniors)
Dd2 has been mixed every year except going into year 1.
Ds has been mixed every year.

Dd2 was the first year to be mixed (at infants) because there were two forms that were very unequal. One had the high-fliers, and the strugglers and a lot of very confident to the point of bulshiness children, plus a few with behaviour issues. The other form had a lot of middling quiet children who would always get on quietly.

I think mixing them did help in a lot of ways. There were also a few children who clashed, so they could separate them.

From that, I think mixing them at the end of reception would work well, to give two more equal forms in academics and behaviour. And then perhaps going into juniors (if primary, obviously infant to juniors do anyway)

Often one positive is given that the children get a greater friendship group, which is helpful in going to secondary.
From observation some children get a bigger friendship group definitely. However this is very much those who were already confident in friendships, it also has meant that they tend to band together so they become a more dominant confident group who has no use for the others. Those who are less confident/find it hard to make friends are usually just beginning to really feel comfortable just before it's time to move round again. It also causes them a lot of worry.
Having observed various years from before mixing, to the years that mix, I would say there is no difference in the worry level about moving to secondary; the worriers, worry and the confident ones don't mind. Again, it's the confident ones that find that they know a person in their form fine, but are happy to make friends with others. The less confident ones still only have a couple that they really would like, so unless they're very lucky they still don't have a friend waiting at secondary.

Also from observation, most friends, even very strong friendships that are split up generally don't last. So there is the aspect I feel the teachers are playing "god" with the children's friendships. "They can stay friends/ they can't".
Usually one makes a best friend first (again, often the more confident of the pair), leaving the old best friend in a bit of a state, which sometimes they never really seem to recover friendship wise.
There also (in our juniors) is no way once they've been split of requesting they go back together. They can name 10 people from their own form. For most of the children, if they get 1 or 2 off their list they're happy; if they get 9 or 10 they're looking at fairly indifferent by that point. Again, those with a bigger friendship group to start off gain by that. (and if you think about it most children will tend to name mostly the same gender as they are, so that's roughly asking them to name 2/3 of those)

The other problem with if you're split from your friend is that because they do generally take friendships into account, you can find they have to break into friendships to make new friends. So you're not starting on an even keel.

Looking at the children I have seen go through. Some have stayed with the same friend right the way up, and have remained friends, those who have been split with the friend, I can count on the fingers of one hand that are still very good friends.

And (having had one) staying best friends with someone in another form has its own problems. Means that they don't have a natural partner for school trips, PE, academic projects etc. In my dd's case it actually restricted her friendships because she spent lunch/break with the best friend, so the others from her form got into their friendship groups and she was an oddment in her form.

For my dc, I was glad dd1 wasn't mixed up because she went through enough stress just about moving up every year until she went into year 6.
Dd2 it's been dreadful since juniors, 3 out of 4 years she's been split from any friends-or rather she's been given number 9/10 on the list. The only year she hasn't been is the year I went to point out that the previous mixing had put her with the child (previously from a different form) who had been bullying her. hmm She now feels everyone hates her and has totally lost confidence in friendships because she's always split up. Until juniors she was very confident socially. Socially she is a shadow of what she used to be. Out of school she's fine, always the child who comes back from a day out with a new friend. In school she is now deliberately excluding herself and hiding away, and is suffering anxiety.
Ds couldn't care less as long as he can play football at lunchtime. grin

EatDessertFirst Sun 20-Jul-14 08:35:32

DD is going into Year 1 and the two Reception classes are being mixed. It seems like a good idea to encourage friendships with different children. DD herself is really looking forward to having new classmates.

However, this may change as she gets older and develops set friendship groups. Her cohort is the first two-form one at this Academy so her year will be used as the experiment I suppose.

Wipsglitter in my experience the mixing up classes is usually the opposite of streaming. It's to get more of a balanced mix of abilities across the classes. In one junior school I worked in, they had their 2 mixed ability groups but they did set them for maths, with a core and extension group.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sun 20-Jul-14 09:50:07

our school do it every year and I think it can have benefits but can also be a problem. I have one child who has been kept with a friend, all well and good but they have based it on friends she WAS friends with but hasn't been playing with for the last few months, the girls she has been are all in the other class next year now.

other child has been split from all friends and been left with 3 of the 4 who have bullied her.

BUT having said that I can see how it can be helpful, am hoping the one with no friends will make some good friends from the children she will now get to know as I think there are a couple who will actually be quite a good match with her so perhaps in a few months time it will be a really positive change for her and she will get a more solid friendship group (her friends this year are ones she has always been sort of on the edge of. they all seem to have a best friend and she is sort of the 3rd person)

not sure with the other one, will have to wait and see.

with regards to streaming - I agree it is actively against it normally. They will take the top ones and split them, the bottom ones and split them, the top middle and split and so on.

doesn't always work with regards to splitting naughty ones though, they seem to put naughty ones together with the stronger teacher in some cases but I suppose it depends on the individual staff members and their strengths with how they might divide up.

pinkerson Sun 20-Jul-14 11:00:16

DeWee I really agree with you - such an interesting post. Friends whose kids' schools mix children up are really anti - they happen to have kids who struggle socially and who have never recovered from losing their first group. I think these kids weren't confident socially in the first place, which meant they weren't named as anyone else's top three... which meant they ended up in a class without anyone they really clicked with.

I am just so glad my kids' school doesn't do this. I don't believe that it helps for secondary school - it's much better to give children a sense of security and comfort.

I was separated from my best friend aged 7, and we ended up with different playtimes so couldn't see each other at all. It wrecked our lovely, happy friendship completely, and I ended up hanging out with quite a horrible bullying group of girls and chose a different (and poor) secondary school to stick with my group.

I re-met my former bff when I was in my late 30s - we really clicked and talked about how heartbroken we both were. It was interesting to remember how deeply it affected us.

DS1 has just finished YR in a 3 form entry.
From the text messages flying round after the reports came out, it appears they are all being mixed up next year.
I'm worried - DS appears not to be in a class with any of his good mates.
I've mentioned to him that not all Miss X's class will be going into Mrs Y's class, and they will get some new people. His response? "Cool"

One of his best friends is not in his class - and he didn't know him before he went to school. He is still going to marry the girl he said he would when he was 3 - and she's not in his class either.

Will have to wait and see what happens, but it IS happening, so we need to make the best of it - ie i need to take more of my 5 yr olds attitude - its a new adventure, lets see what it brings.

runoutofideasagain Sun 20-Jul-14 14:45:17

Our school stay together in 3 classes of 30 for the infants school, then when they move into the juniors they mix them up every year. I hate it. I can see the schools argument for redressing the balance within the classes but I don't think it needs to be done every year.

Also school don't see the stress and anxiety it causes in some children. My dd1 (9) has been talking about it since May half term as to whether she'll still be with her friends and which teacher she'll have. They only told them last Thursday so it is very close to the end of term. Luckily dd is ok as she has 2 out of her 3 best friends, but I feel it causes them to be more cliquey and stick together in 2s and 3s. The wider group of friends is shuffled around every year and stronger bonds which were emerging are severed before they had a chance to turn into a proper friendship. I wish they would just leave them alone.

nigerdelta Sun 20-Jul-14 14:58:03

I'm not sure what the terms of reference are. Some posters seem to be talking about their children not being with the exact other kids in their class every year all the way thru primary, and other posters seem to be talking about mixed year groups. No one, least of all OP, ever defined what "mixed up class" means.

FWIW, my kids have been fine in multi-yr-group classes. I don't recognise any of these issues being caused by mixed yr groups & I do have non-confident socially difficult as well as confident kids.

When DD was starting y2 she was the only child moved from one group to the other (so everyone else stayed with the same children for yr1). I was skeptical but this move turned out to be utterly fantastic for her.

bringonyourwreckingball Sun 20-Jul-14 15:10:34

Both my dds have had their classes mixed going into next year - dd1 will be y4 and dd2 will be y2. For dd1 I think it will be quite a positive thing as she is staying with her best friend but they've split up a foursome with a tricky dynamic where dd1 always seemed to come off badly. I am worried about dd2 though - she isn't really with any of her close friends except one girl who is better friends with another girl - I worry about her being left out

FrogStomp Sun 20-Jul-14 16:12:30

I remember there being two classes in my final year of Primary. One of my good friends was in the other class. We did gymnastics together though and walked to school early every morning to get more practice in. It didn't effect our friendship at all. We still played together at break times and sat together for our lunch. I think with the addition of the gymnastics and the shared interest in that, our friendship remained strong.

I think it's usually the parents who worry about this more than the dc.

phlebasconsidered Sun 20-Jul-14 17:19:35

We mix every year. Every year the teacher of the other class and I sit down and devise a mix that gives us both the same mix ability wise, and splits any children that really need splitting. We consider what child would be best with what teacher, which friendships are strong and best to stay together, and which influences the child is feeling an impact from.

My own two have always been mixed from reception, and in Year 1 I was sceptical, as DS was away from any friends he had made. But in retrospect it was fine, he made new friends and his good friends simply waited for him at lunchtime. Every year since he has lost or gained a friend, but it hasn't made any difference. We underestimate children. He is quite shy, but he manages to understand that playtimes are different from learning times.Actually, my dd is different, she would be better off away from her friends! Probably concentrate more.

I think, and know, that as a teacher I wouldn't ever move a child away from a relationship in class that was utterly beneficial to them. However, sometimes friendships in class can be counter to learning. They chat, they rely on each other, they are concerned about what their friend is thinking / doing. Sometimes, away from their friends, they fly. Depends on the personality of the child, of course, but in my experience, the "quiet half" of a friendship in which one side is dominant always benefits from a change, provided the teacher has arranged for a suitable seating match in the new class, which is standard IME.

MamOfTwo Sun 20-Jul-14 22:14:15

OP here, apologies I got distracted. Thank you for all the responses. Interesting reading. Just to clarify my situation - children are going into Y2 (not a mixed-year group), 15 and 15 mixed from each class. I am worried as my DD can be shy (although she got way more confident in Y1) but most of her good friends are in the other class so I am worried she will retreat into her shell again. Although as a previous poster said, I think it is parents who worry more than the kids!

wizzler Sun 20-Jul-14 22:19:47

Our school does this. The DC have to write 3 friends they want to be with in the next year. TBH I am not sure how much the school take this into account. The forms have been split each year after reception. Parents get very stressed but the kids seem to have sailed through with no issues.

I think its a good thing. Gives the teachers an opportunity to balance things up( eg if one child being dominated by another, etc), widens friendship groups which is especially good for girls

Bagoffrogs Sun 20-Jul-14 22:31:14

Our school also mixes but it is age based. So y1 and y2 are mixed to form y1, yr 1/2 and yr2 (30 in each). This year DD was in yr 1, being the mid range of ages and the eldest of her year were in 1/2. Come September she then jumps to y2 with the oldest 30, the youngest 15 falling into yr 1/2. All very complicated but it doesn't seem to bother her. She will however be one of the youngest in yr2 and, not being the most forthcoming, this worries me slightly. I do wonder if her confidence would have grown remaining within her current age group.

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