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to be unhappy with school's decision?

(126 Posts)
OiHeadNooooo Thu 14-Apr-16 13:07:46

I have name changed because of the details in the post.

Dc2 is currently in Yr2. School are telling us that in September, when the year group are Yr3 & become KS2 pupils, they are going to divide them and keep roughly half in a shared class with Yr2, in the same classroom they are in now, whilst the others will move to the next class & share with Yr4.

We, along with most other Yr2 parents, are not happy about this as the year group will be split over the 2 key stages. This is bound to mean there will be differences in how they are treated and the level of work they will be exposed to. One major difference, that I think will mean a lot to the kids themselves, is that those with the Yr2s (as they are still in a KS1 classroom) will get an afternoon playtime, whereas the ones with the Yr4s (in a KS2 class) will not. This seems a very unfair way of treating children who are in the same year group. Particularly as friendship groups will no doubt be split & some kids will have to watch their friends go out to play when they cannot. Additionally, when KS2 or Yr3 group activities are planned the pupils in the younger class will have to leave their classroom to join in but then go back when finished. After Yr3, the year group would then come together again in Yr4, be split again in Yr5 (but possibly with different pupils in the 2 groups) & then be together again in Yr6. Essentially creating a complete lack of continuity for the rest of their time at primary school and having a differing effect on them educationally & socially.

There was a meeting for Yr2 parents where the Head gave a presentation about how this cohort split would work and it seemed to be to gauge opinion but, since the majority weren’t happy with the idea and the decision has been made to go ahead with it anyway, it would appear to have been presented as a fait accompli. It would also appear that financial considerations are more important than what is best for the children, as there are potential alternative solutions to the issue (which is an imbalance in class sizes) that could prevent splitting the year group but they would mostly create the need for an extra teacher &/or classroom space.

How would you feel if this was going to affect your dc? What would you do in response to being told about this decision?

I ask because we have a parents’ evening tonight where we will be speaking to the Head (as they are one of dc2’s teachers). Some parents had their meetings yesterday and have told me that they were informed that the decision (which was originally couched as an option albeit without any other options put forward) will be going ahead – so, never mind what the parents’ opinions are then! From what others have said, in the meeting tonight, the Head will be asking us where we would want our dc to be placed whilst telling us which class they will be placing them in and why that will be best for them.

Fluffy24 Thu 14-Apr-16 13:10:25

What are the new respective class sizes going to be OP?

I think that if it's a big school and they're going to be big classes I wouldn't be happy, but if its a small village school type setting with small numbers then I'd be more relaxed...

Sirzy Thu 14-Apr-16 13:13:16

What is the set up for other classes at the moment?

Looking at it from another PoV I can see how for some children staying in the ks1 class for an extra year could help them a lot depending on the child.

Meeep Thu 14-Apr-16 13:13:54

I assume it's a very small school? They might not really have a choice...

titchy Thu 14-Apr-16 13:14:01

Plenty of schools operate mixed year groups. As long as the teacher is reasonably experienced and differentiates the work, which they will, your kid will be fine. There is no evidence that this is harmful or disruptive to kids; education.

If the school doesn't have enough kids to employ dedicated year 3 and year 5 teachers then it doesn't. Where do you think they could get the money from?

Twowrongsdontmakearight Thu 14-Apr-16 13:18:24

My DC went to a school that had split classes. It worked very well. The teacher set different levels of work for each half of the class.

I also once worked in a school where Maths and English were taught according to ability not year group which also worked well.

Coffeethrowtrampbitch Thu 14-Apr-16 13:18:36

Our local school was forced to do this after the local council refused them funding for an additional teacher.

They did however make an effort to integrate them outside the classroom. They would have PE together as a year group whenever possible, sit together at assemblies, and share the same playground and breaks. In addition, all children in the same year group were given the same homework, so my DD in P3 was in the same class as my DS in P4, but they had different homework.

You could suggest very strongly that they do this to minimise disruption to the children, it doesn't cost much money and should help this move avoid upsetting the children and disrupting their friendship groups.

If they aren't willing to do any of this I would attack the proposed solution on the grounds that it will profoundly disrupt the children's education and the school are unwilling to put any measures in to mitigate this at all.

TeenAndTween Thu 14-Apr-16 13:20:28

It seems a strange way to go about things.
More usually it would be mix 3/4 and mix 5/6.

I don't think I would be happy in this situation without a lot of reassurance.

What are the approx numbers in each year group?

Chickpeachick0 Thu 14-Apr-16 13:21:36

My children's village primary had mixed year groups , always the older children moving class first. Some parents were not keen, but worked well for mine.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Thu 14-Apr-16 13:22:13

I went to a small school with joint classes at primary and was generally level or ahead of my peers when I moved to senior school.

BUT they were not mixed across different key stages, and they didn't split a year group in half!

Is there no way Year 2 can join Year 1, or Year 4 with Year 5?

MerryMarigold Thu 14-Apr-16 13:22:33

What were Y3 doing before? My only advice would be don't vote conservative because that's where the cuts are coming from.

TeenAndTween Thu 14-Apr-16 13:22:52

Also, if they split by any method other than pure age (and even if they do use age) there are going to be a lot of unhappy parents & children for those who have been put with the 'babies/less clever' y2 class (even if it isn't true).

Heirhelp Thu 14-Apr-16 13:24:23

I am not surprised by this. School budgets are getting tighter and tighter. I don't think there is much you can do bar changing schools.

lalalalyra Thu 14-Apr-16 13:25:32

I've always quite liked composite classes as the class size is smaller to account for the different teachings.

The only time I wasn't keen on it was when only 6 pupils from DD2's class moved in with the younger class. I feel that the teacher pretty much forgot she had older kids sometimes.

Catmuffin Thu 14-Apr-16 13:28:34

How big are the classes involved?

icklekid Thu 14-Apr-16 13:30:04

If they would need an extra classroom space in order to avoid it this might not be an option! It sounds like they have done their best to inform parents as early as they can. I'd be more interested in how classes are decided and if your dc will be with friends. I teach at large 3 form entry school and change children around classes each year - can be helpful if personalities clash!

thelostboy Thu 14-Apr-16 13:36:09

We've had similar concerns in the past with our two, but in practice it has never been an issue, the school have dealt with it well.

A couple of the smaller village schools near us only have 2 or 3 classes for the whole school anyway, and they seem to cope.

littleshirleybeans Thu 14-Apr-16 13:42:40

I've taught loads of composite classes and they're fine. The children chosen can be for lots of different reasons eg you need a group of children who will be able to work independently of the other age group.
Some pupils are deliberately split up from others for behavioural reasons.
Some children are very poor and need the support of the work the younger group do though they will still be taught separately and differentiated.
We have a lot of composites this year which we agreed to as a staff, as it minimised the numbers in each class.
We won't be able to do this next year and our class sizes will be really big.
The number of teachers is determined by the number of pupils. The HT then has to try and make up the classes accordingly. It can be a total nightmare for them.
Ideally, if you had 40 in a year group, you'd have two classes of 20. But that's not always possible.
As a teacher, I actually liked getting a composite as I knew then I was limited to 25. When ds1 started, I actually asked if he could go in the primary 1/2 as opposed to the straight primary 1.

carnassials Thu 14-Apr-16 13:45:57

I went to a primary school that operated this system, albeit in yr 5/6 with class size of 20-30. As someone who experienced this, I can tell you that it is awful. You are broken up from your established friend groups and put in a class of older pupils (in my case) who did not want you there. For a child who is not already confident (like me) the affect can be very bad.

The teacher tended to concentrate on the older kids' work - we were left frequently to read books whilst they got the older kids ready for SATs. The rest of the time we did the same work as the year 6 class and then when it came to my turn to be a year 6, I repeated the same work again the next year so I essentially missed year 5 and still have gaps in my knowledge - which I was penalised for in year 6.

Now as an adult I am a bit angry at my parents for not doing anything about this or seeing how it could be damaging long-term. I guess they had enough on their plate and there is nothing that can do about it now.

Obviously I hope the set up at this school is not the same, although I cannot see how it is ideal at all for primary school age children.

Primaryteach87 Thu 14-Apr-16 13:47:55

This is very common and it sounds like the headteacher doesn't really have any choice (presuming there are less than a whole class per year group). I think it would be more constructive to ask them to address the playtime issue. So for example the year 3s in with the year 4s could go out to play whilst the year 4s did something else, or the year 2s could stay in to ensure they get some dedicated time to practise harder concepts.

grumpysquash Thu 14-Apr-16 13:47:57

In our village primary, classes can hold 30, but the intake is only 20, therefore year 1 is split (half stay in reception, half with y2). Similarly y4 is also split between y3 and y5.

Mostly it was done on age, so my (bright) DS1 with a summer birthday stayed with the younger children, whereas my less able DS2 with a Feb birthday always moved up.

My DD (June birthday) was moved in with the year 2 class when she was year 1, so she was a year and 9 months younger than the eldest child in the class. By the time she got to year 4, the division was on age and she ended up the oldest child in the year 3 classroom. In fact, her primary years in terms of classroom, went: R, Y2, Y2, Y3, Y3, Y5, Y6

None of it was ideal, but it was swings and roundabouts regarding the academic benefits and social benefits.

Most importantly, it didn't make any difference in the broad scheme of things.

Sirzy Thu 14-Apr-16 13:50:39

I was in composite classes all the way through primary school and it wasn't an issue at all, friendship wise I think it helped as you became friends with the years either side of you not just your own year!

Ds now goes to the same school, he is in a purely year 1 class now but the rest of the time the class will be composite. They do split into smaller year group classes for literacy and nurmeracy which I think is a good approach.

ClearEyesFullHeartsCantLose Thu 14-Apr-16 13:50:50

Composite classes are really not that unusual and are often very good for the children involved. Sometimes they don't work and they aren't a perfect fit for every child, but that often comes down to the individual teacher, the wrong mix of children and also (and I speak with experience here) the expectations of the parents and the child. If you go into it expecting it to fail you will find yourself nit-picking at every little thing that is less than "perfect" instead of accepting how things are and seeing the real positives a composite class can bring. (It is much the same as when a class has a job-share situation with one teacher doing 2 days and another doing the other 3. It is usually the parents who kick up a fuss about their darling children being somehow shortchanged that find problem, after problem, after problem with the teacher, instead of appreciating the real benefits from having two different skill sets and two different approaches giving their child a more rounded education.)

Of my 4 DC 2 of them have been in composite classes (DS is in one this year) - DD1 had a great experience and it worked really well, DS this year isn't having a great year but it is absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it is a composite, and everything to do with having a very inexperienced teacher, a few difficult characters in the class and a senior management team who are totally over-worked due to staff shortages that they cannot support said teacher. It is highly likely that at least one of my DTs will be in a composite next year and it won't faze me in the slightest.

I'm not sure about how it works in England, but in Scotland, while primary class sizes are capped at 30, composite classes are capped at 25, so you are guaranteed a smaller class.

I do understand your concerns with the range being over KS2&3 but that will be for the school to sort out and I have seen this work very well in many schools. (where we live there are a lot of schools who only have composites and it doesn't damage the children in any way.)

I'm not trying to be harsh - I do understand that we all want what is best for our DC, but please don't worry about this - composite classes are really not as bad as you think they are.

OiHeadNooooo Thu 14-Apr-16 13:52:06

Thank you for your responses. I posted then skipped off to get a bite to eat & a cuppa but back now

Yes, it is a small village school. Dc1 has already been through it and is in Yr7 now. It has always had mixed classes but, as some of you have touched on, they have been a mixed classes of whole year groups rather than year groups that have been split, let alone a year group split between key stages. For a long time with 3 classrooms, it was:
- Class 1; Rec & Yr1
- Class 2; Yr2 & Yr3 (so top KS1 & lower KS2 but the whole of Yr2 & the whole of Yr3)
- Class 3; Yr4, Yr5 & Yr6

There is a new classroom now so currently the configuration is:
- Class 1; Rec & Yr1
- Class 2; Yr2 (largest year group)
- Class 3; Yr3 & Yr4
- Class 4; Yr5 & Yr6

If it was kept this way the class sizes in September would be 20, 12, 31, & 20 respectively.

With the cohort split the class sizes would be 20, 21, 22, I can absolutely see why they want to do it in order to even out class sizes. But it doesn't seem fair to divide a year group & then split them over KS1 & KS2.

One alternative solution would be to divide next year's Yr1s, so some in with Rec & some with Yr2. Whilst also splitting next years Yr4s, so some with Yr3 & some with Yr5 & 6.

Obviously this would still split year groups up but all pupils will be with others in the same key stage.

It's the different treatment with regard to playtimes etc that I have concern about b/c all the Yr3s should be following the KS2 routine and hours of learning but this will be different for the 2 groups.

SocksRock Thu 14-Apr-16 13:53:44

Our small village school has a split Y2 - half with Y1 and half with Y3. They split based on personalities to keep friends with at least some of their friends and to balance the teaching required. The Y2's that are "up" with Y3 class go back to the Y1/Y2 class in the afternoon. They've done it so that they have 5 smaller classes in the morning, none more than 25 for the teaching of maths/literacy etc. Then in the afternoon there are 4 larger classes with the teacher and TA's who have been released doing focus groups. Afternoon classes are topic, RE, music, PE etc.

So the morning classes are (they don't call them a and b, that's just my terminology)


And the afternoon classes are


This was a trial for this academic year - the first term was a bit rocky, but all the kids seem to get it with no problem. The school has always had split classes as the PAN is only 15.

As a parent it seems to work as there are a lot of focus groups possible in the afternoon to focus on children who have extra need for support - and has also allowed every year group to do forest school for at least one term during the school year as there is an "extra" teacher every afternoon. There is a dedicated forest school area on the school grounds now, and all of them love it.

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