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Composite Classes

(22 Posts)
constantlytired Mon 20-Jun-11 10:20:01

My DD is currently in her first year at primary school and performing really well, we're very pleased with her progress in reading, writing, etc. We've just been advised she will be in a composite class next year (8 * P1's and 14 * P2's). I'm concerned that as a result of the teachers time being spent trying to teach children in both P1 and P2, that she won't receive the same standards as those children in solely P2 classes. I'm not sure if i should be worried about this at this early stage in her education either, so perfectly willing to believe IABU.

Ceic Mon 20-Jun-11 11:52:54

It depends on the teacher.

I was in a composite class for 4 years. I was in the lower primary and one of the brighter ones. We did the same art, music, PE and general topic work. Our teachers did mixed ability maths, reading and writing. It was always clear who was doing what work, the teacher always had time to answer questions and do small group work or one to one stuff. My class was bigger than your DD's one will be.

My DS is starting primary school and will be going into a composite class of P1-P3. He will be fine.

So you are probably being a bit U. Unless you have concerns about the teacher.

waitfortheblackout Mon 20-Jun-11 11:54:56

Agree it depends on the teacher.

A few years ago I taught a mixed reception/yr 1 class and my colleague taught the next door yr1/yr2 class (yr1 was split based on academic/emotional maturity).

We were both conscious that the yr1 children in my class had a more reception style education and her yr1s had a more yr 2 style education but given the range of abilities that you find across a year group anyway, it actually meant that we were only differentiating as we would have done anyway but were catching more children in each net, as it were.

We still ensured that the children had the opportunity to develop the skills appropriate for their level.

I did have some parents who were concerned, but once I explained it to them and demonstrated how it worked, most were quite happy. Why don't you ask to speak with the teacher about it?

Teachers are under pretty much constant scrutiny with APP, moderation and pupil progress meetings to make sure that the children are making the required progress, to explain why they are not and to know what they are going to do to bridge any gaps.

I don't think YABU to be concerned about it, though. Before doing it, I would have been. smile

duckdodgers Mon 20-Jun-11 12:00:18

My DS who is 9 has been in a composite class for the last 3 years annd its never been an issue at all.

DottyandSpottyWot Mon 20-Jun-11 12:01:54

Constantlytired - its sounds like you are in a Scottish school, is that correct? With the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence there is a lot more active learning going on in the class so lots of group work etc so there are lots of things happening in a classroom now, and the teacher can group by ability. I work for a LA where we have lots of rural schools which only have composite classes due to size, both attainment and achievement in these schools is in line with whats expected of them!

chelstonmum Mon 20-Jun-11 12:10:47

My DD is in a mixed yr1/2 class. She is in Yr 1 and seems to flourish in groups with older children. She is doing Y2 levels for a few subjects. My biggest concern is that she will remain a bit stagnent next year.

Is your child above average? If so request she is placed in a p2 or p2/3 class. If not im sure the 8 P1's will be the upper level of their year and more than capable of keeping up with P2's. Im assuming you are in Scotland? That holds the bonus of low class sizes too.

Groovee Mon 20-Jun-11 12:17:42

My friend is a teacher who says teaching composite classes is no different to teaching a mixed group class as the groups would all be taught individually like they would be in a normal P2. For the first time in years our school is doing the same making issues at our school but the P2 parents seem to have been well briefed about it.

Composite classes are only allowed 25 like the P1's so your daughter's teacher will have less children and more time.

I'd be in to the school asking for reassurance if we can't convince you.

AMumInScotland Mon 20-Jun-11 13:08:09

DS was in composite classes all through Primary, and it worked fine for him - the small class size (max 25) more than compensates for the slightly wider range of the children. The children will be working in groups anyway, and the teacher will already be differentiating work on maths, reading and spelling, even in a single year class, so it really doesn't hold them back in the slightest.

LizzyLiz Mon 20-Jun-11 13:20:17

My DS is in a yr3/4composite class of 36/37! Is the 25 maximum only for KS1?

He was also in a yr1/2 composite class where the teacher was really experienced with both year groups and it worked very well.

bidibidi Mon 20-Jun-11 13:27:03

30 is max for KS1, methinks.
Most people in your situation have the same concern, OP, and most are pleasantly surprised.

poppyknot Mon 20-Jun-11 13:31:11

Both DDs have been in composite classes at sometime. As they are both in the younger part of their year group they were in the upper part of the composite (if you see what I mean). So P1/2 in the 2 half and P3/2 in the 3 half.

The rules of compositing within our council was that it was done by age and so the classes in each case were nearer in age than a standard class. Also in 'straight' classses there are different abilities and so the teacher is teaching different groups anyway.

All in all it was a positive experience. As others have said it is really down to the teacher and often the composites will be given the more experienced. Oh and the classes were smaller.

Euphemia Mon 20-Jun-11 13:38:38

The only downside I've ever been aware of is social, that is if friends are separated when they move to different classes.

Academically, I'd have no concerns at all.

AMumInScotland Mon 20-Jun-11 13:41:58

Lizzy - sorry the 25 limit is specific to Scotland, I've no idea whether the limit in England is different for composite classes.

constantlytired Tue 21-Jun-11 13:34:17

Hi, many thanks for your replies, i feel bit better now. I spoke with the headmaster (not in a confrontational way, just for more advice) and he pretty much advised the same as the advice given here. It is indeed a Scottish school. There are only going to be 6 P2 girls in the class, but DD seems to get on ok with all of them. Thanks again.

BikeRunSki Tue 21-Jun-11 13:43:58

My whole primary school was composite classes. We were fine, transfer to secondary and subsequent education all OK. Our classes were about 30 people.

bandgeek Tue 21-Jun-11 13:56:01

Reading this thread with interest as my ds is going into a primary 2/1 class in August and I was wondering how it would work. My. Dd starts P1 and as it is going by age she should have been going into the p2/1 class as well as she will be one of the older ones, but the school have said they think it would be better having siblings in different classes, so she will be going into p1 instead. I quite agree with their decision as DS would be GUTTED if his little sister was in his class grin

Guess I'll just have to wait and see how it will work smile

DorisIsAPinkDragon Tue 21-Jun-11 14:24:04

Have to say I agree with the "it depends on the teacher" school of thought.

Sadly I have not had a good experience of the composite class with DD1 this year. Not only is she one of 8 P1 chuildren in with the reception class (the split was on age not ability) . They have hadve been two entry intakes for the reception children (with the disruption of them adaptiong to the school environment etc). She has also had job share teachers.

TBH I do not believe the teaching has pushed her in any way. I went in earlier in the year with a 2 page letter to the head with our "issues", same work as previous year, no development and whilst things improved for a while I still do not feel they are being taught at the same level as their cohort in the P1/P2 class.

The school has recently become and academy and one of the first things they have done is agreed to fund a really small P3 class to give straight classes next year.

I can't be bothered to complain anymore but OP be wary and be ready to raise any issues I wish I'd spoken earlier than I did, and good luck

Mandy2003 Tue 21-Jun-11 14:30:41

My DS really benefited from 2 years of vertical streaming for year 3 and 4. Then the head who believed in it left and the school went to single year classes. I might not have liked him to have gone through the whole school like that, but at that stage it was brilliant for my DS.

lincs2 Tue 21-Jun-11 15:04:43

As another poster said in depends on the teacher. I believe though in Scotland class sizes are smaller for composite classes which is an advantage. My dd was in a year 1 /year 2 class whilst in year 1. I don't believe it did her any favours. They seemed to hive off the brighter ones for that class and I am sure the really bright ones thrived. However, her progress was poor. For example she ended year 1 on green reading level. The teacher admitted they concentrated on the ones struggling ie year 2's.

NHScutback Mon 27-Jun-11 21:25:10

I don't like them for the reasons mentioned already. There are some composite classes based on ability in DD's school, the class sizes are the same with no extra teaching support and I cannot see how this benefits the students. Particularly the less able, whom I think are already labelled aged 6 which is sad. I cannot see how this doesn't translate into lower expectations for those children. The new head is now changing the mixed classes to reflect an average ability class but I don't see that as an improvement either. Either mix up all the classes or none of the classes IMO.

backwardpossom Mon 27-Jun-11 22:10:41

The school in my village is tiny so all the classes are composites. Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I have to say. I teach in Secondary school and I have a huge range of abilities within my classes and differentiate the work accordingly. I don't see how that's any different and would be confident enough that the teacher would have everything covered.

youarekidding Mon 27-Jun-11 22:20:28

A local primary to me has mixed classes from yr1. There are 3 mixed classes in KS1 (so 3xyr1/2) then 3x yr3/4 and 3x yr 5/6.

These are not abilty set but totally mixed but the way the school does it. I mentioned to my friend the other day about how it may be beneficial if they did a yr 1 higher yr1 and lower yr 2's and a yr 2 class. Purely because the school does great at progressing those who are lower ability but not so good at extending the highers. (ofsted picked this up).

My point is they are great if they are done so children are working with peers of similar ability/ emotional maturity and easier for the teacher to plan learning.

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