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Yrs 4, 5 & 6 in shared classroom - change schools?

(15 Posts)
stickygotstuck Thu 14-Apr-16 14:11:45

DD is in a small village school. She was in a mixed classroom with YR & Y1, and this year she is in a different class with Y2 & Y3. I was not happy at the prospect of mixed year classes, but so far this has worked better than expected.

However, the school only has 3 classes, which means that she would be in a class shared by Y4, 5 & 6. Two class teachers, 2/3 TA's.

Would you wait and see how it goes, speak in a mild panic to the parents with children already in that class, or move schools before DD gets there?

So as not to drip feed, this is not the only reason - or the first time - we are considering a move. Amongst other things, the school management is far from perfect, the place is cliquey and the only reason why DD is still there is that she loves her friends and the teachers. Which for DD (and therefore us) is one powerful reason. Let's just say that the shool so far has been a good fit for DD but not for DH and me.

Thanks in advance for any opinions smile

mudandmayhem01 Thu 14-Apr-16 14:20:10

I went to great primary school, only 25 children in the whole of what is now called KS2. I got to secondary school and me and my friend( the only children moving to secondary that year) where surprised to find we were miles ahead of other kids. I suspect this was because our excellent teacher( who was also the headteacher) had to make us responsible for our own learning to a great extent. Maybe a bit like home ed. I would be more concerned about the cliqueyness and the poor management than the mixed classes.

stickygotstuck Thu 14-Apr-16 14:37:30

Thank you mud.

I have nothing to compare it to, but I doubt these kids are much further ahead than anyone else. As a matter of fact, a couple of DD's classmates were moved to a private school because their parents felt they weren't pushed far enough. It may all have been in their heads (and there is no way DD could go to private school), but still it makes you wonder.

Re. the cliqueyness and the management, that is exactly where I am at. I think I am looking for an 'objective' excuse to get DD out of there!

AugustRose Thu 14-Apr-16 14:57:26

Our village school has a set up exactly the same as yours OP.

When DD1 started the set up was R/Yr/Y2, Y3/Y4 and Y5/Y6. It changed around as they had a large Reception intake one year and couldn't accommodation 3 groups in the younger class.

I think our school works, however I have had worries over the ability of the teacher (she is also the Head) in that class to push the older children and when DD1 was in Y5/Y6 I had some big concerns. However, DD2 is now in Y4 of that class and it seems to work much better - or it could just be that she is a completely different child to DD1 - same ability but different attitude.

I would perhaps wait until your DD moves into the class and you will be able to see if it affects her badly. Unfortunately there is cliqueyness at most schools - we have also had this as some staff live in the village and know most parents personally as well as professionally, it has caused problems in the past.

RapidlyOscillating Thu 14-Apr-16 15:05:34

My daughter is in a class of about 16 children across yr 3-6, like pp said, they have to get on with things and take a bit of responsibility. She does well at this but it's challenging for some.

stickygotstuck Thu 14-Apr-16 15:13:06

Thanks August and Oscillating. That is one seriously small one, Oscillating!

The issue here is that I think it would be easier to change her before she starts Y3 than half way through Y4 or waiting until Y5.

We have a similar issue Rose. Some of the staff live in the village, or else are friends with some of the parents who live in the village. We don't live in the village and I really have no time for all that malarkey! Like I said, not the perfect fit.

teacherwith2kids Fri 15-Apr-16 08:12:12

I think there are two things worth considering before you decide:

- is there a 1 form entry or bigger school that your child can move to? IME, once a class is mixed, it is mixed, and whether it is 4/5/6 or 5/6 doesn't make a huge amount of difference (I have taught in everything from a 3 form entry to a school with 2 classes, one for KS1 and 1 for KS2!). However a single year group per class (especially now e.g. the Maths curriculum is very prescriptive by year group) DOES make a difference.

- How is the actual teaching arranged? You say that there are 2 teachers - are they both always there, or is it a job share? Are the class routinely divided into 2 parts - so e.g. effectively a Y4/5 class and a Y6 class - when teaching, and just share a classroom, or is there really only 1 teaching group and the other staff are used to support specific groups?

ILeaveTheRoomForTwoMinutes Fri 15-Apr-16 08:55:12

I went to a school with only 2 class rooms.

At 7 years old we moved to the 2nd class room. The head teacher took that class.

The level of education I received was fantastic, I am dyslectic so had a teacher come in once a week to work with me for a couple of hours.

My parents moved house in the last year so I went to a bigger primary with individual classes, I was ahead of them, and the stuff that I had done at my previous, my classmates won't believe. Science and and technology had been a big part of my education, and it had all been practical work. Using saws drills, circuits, test tubes ect.

The small school was very structured, youngest sat on the first row of desk eldest at the back. Maths and times table squared done every morning. Music lessons were excellent.

I know it was a long time ago (re education) this was mid 80's.

But if the teachers are good at there jobs, your daughter is happy. Then I'd say stick with it.

stickygotstuck Fri 15-Apr-16 14:14:17

Thank you Teacher and ILeave for your responses.

You know, Teacher, I am not sure of the mechanics in that class (Years 4, 5 & 6). But I am friendly with a parent there and will ask as soon as I can. What I do know is that the previous cohorts where much smaller (DD was part of a bulge year with a bigger intake) so I wonder if the system will be changed by the time she gets there.

I did enquire last year about a similar situation with the new class she is in this year (more children in the same cramped space), but the indifferent response from the head made me give it up as a bad job (and, again, think of changing schools as a knee-jerk reaction). As I said, the management really is quite something.

When you say that having a single year per class does make a difference, could you elaborate please, Teacher? The prospective new school does have single year classes.

ILeave, your old school sounds great. That was my hope with DD's school. However, resources are thin on the ground, although the teachers do their best with what is available. But your advice to sit tight gives me food for thought, thank you.

At the moment, I look with envy to the other local schools with big playgrounds with slides and climbing walls, plenty of breakfast or after school clubs, and interesting out of school activities, and I wonder what on earth were we thinking to send DD to that overcrowded village school with the crap management and the cliqueyness! confused I really don't know what to do for the best.

teacherwith2kids Fri 15-Apr-16 14:50:42

Sticky,

I do sometimes think that we choose a school for our small DC that seems perfect for them but doesn't quite 'fit' as they get older.

The thing with single year classes is that some aspects of the new national curriculum are very much 'year group' based maths one for example. A good teacher of a mixed age group class can and will plan from both year group objectives, then differentiate within them for the different abilities, but it is, IME, harder than planning for a single age group class. It used to be a little easier with the old NC, as that was more of a continuum so you could differentiate through the whole class rather than have to think about 'Y5 curriculum for lower Y5s or lower Y4 curriculum for lower Y4s' say, but it is still, on average, rather trickier than a single year group because, again in general, there will tend to be a greater spread of ability. This will be fine if the teacher is good, but IME you have to be a slightly better teacher to teach a mixed-age class well than to teach a single year group class well, if that makes sense.

Also, as you have remarked, smaller schools have less budget, especially if they are not entirely full. If there are 7 classes and 1 head, say, then only 1/7th of the cost of the head comes from teach class budget. If there are 4 classes and a head, then more of the head's cost must come from each class - and the same goes for playground resources, Maths resources, clubs, anything shared.

Small cohorts and mixed classes can also be tricky if you have a child who is an 'outlier' in some way, or if gender balances are not equal. in a year group of around 30, there is more likely to be a child of like ability and interests than in a year group of 15 or 10. My DS was an outlier in a small school year group - much happier when he moved to a year group of 60, in which he had more 'near peers'.

stickygotstuck Fri 15-Apr-16 15:13:32

Thank you, Teacher, it does make sense. It's what I always suspected - you need a better teacher than average to deal with mixed classes, and life is just simpler with a non-mixed class. Is that fair to say?

I think you hit the nail on the head - as DD grows, the school is less of a good fit. I would class her as an 'outlier' (I do like that description!). Our main concern when choosing a school were her emotional and social needs, rather than the academic side of things.

She does get very attached to people (and things), she has an innate sense of loyalty, and if you ask her she says she loves her school. Even when you point out the other schools' playing fields/gyms/music clubs [/seemingly normal heads envy]. But as she is growing up I can see more friction and brief fallings-out with her friends, and she has (good-humouredly) called herself 'odd' a couple of times. Which is all normal and part of growing up, I know, but we look at it with a bit more concern than you would a less 'emotional' or 'sensitive' child, for want of a better word, if that makes any sense.

ILeaveTheRoomForTwoMinutes Fri 15-Apr-16 15:22:42

This will be fine if the teacher is good, but IME you have to be a slightly better teacher to teach a mixed-age class well than to teach a single year group class well, if that makes sense

This^

That's why I said if the teachers are good. If you find the teacher isn't then I would move schools. Lots of DC move schools mid school year or the following year. It's normally fine.

I say that because in small school if you have a teacher who can't cope the mix, they will not just mess up one years education but years worth.

On the plus side again though, having the same teacher(providing they are good) for years, means they really get to know your child, their strengths and weaknesses, and teach accordingly.

One of my DC ended up with the same teacher for three years. (How that happened is complicated) that teacher knew ds inside out, knew what ds had done the year before, knew what he was capable off, and knew when he was lacking in confidence so wasn't trying, so worked with him.

He was an excellent teacher and you could tell from the first term of him teaching.

I found with my other DC and other years with Ds, that at the start of the school year it takes time for the teacher to get to know the new class, dynamics and them individually.

ILeaveTheRoomForTwoMinutes Fri 15-Apr-16 15:24:42

X post with you OP,

AugustRose Sun 17-Apr-16 10:29:36

I look with envy to the other local schools with big playgrounds with slides and climbing walls, plenty of breakfast or after school clubs, and interesting out of school activities,

I suppose this is the problem with your school management as you say. Our school has less than 50 children but we get all of the above - the after school clubs only run for 45 mins but are free and varied in activity.

The outside space isn't huge but they have equipment to climb on and a field to run around play football etc

We moved DD1 at the start of Y2 from a bigger village school that had a better academic record - about 150 children and still with mixed year groups but about 25/30 in each class. But she started to be unhappy and I realised the dynamic in the classroom was very much the loud children got all the attention and the quiet ones were left to get on with it. It is a difficult decision to make if your DD is happy but if you don't feel you can have a good relationship with the teaching staff/head then it's not ideal.

Do you know families with children at another school you are looking at? It would be good to get an idea of how they are run, what activities are available and how people feel about the staff and management before making a move that you DD doesn't yet want.

stickygotstuck Wed 20-Apr-16 12:05:21

Sorry I disappeared for a while. I didn't think anyone else was posting. Thank you Rose.

The thing is, I did extensive research, verging on the obessive, before we chose this school. I spoke to several parents of children in both schools, and I often get the feeling we got it wrong anyway. Not sure of how helpful it would be to speak to people again. In fact, I wish I hadn't. DD would then have gone into the larger, local school. We are now terrified of causing upheaval and potential upset and get it wrong again.

To be fair, all the parents I knew from the new school are one type, and most of those from DD's school are another type, so I'm not sure we got a balanced view at the time IYSWIM.

The odd thing at DD's school is that our relationship with the staff is good, it's only the head that's the issue. It's not just us, most parents feel the same from what I have seen.

Space is an issue, but there really is no physical room for expansion. Clubs are limited, and so are places. Weirdly, DD was the only one in her class who didn't get a place in one last term. The mind boggles.

I am going to speak to on the teachers in the larger class, see if they have any plans for when the proportion between years change. If there are no plans, I guess we should run a mile!

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