composite classes(9 Posts)
hi anyone, need your thoughts on composite classes... how do they work and what are the pros and cons?
My DS was in composite classes all through primary. In his case, the school only had composite classes due to the small numbers, so the whole place was geared up to it, which I think may be better than schools where there is a mix of single age and composites.
In his school, the make up of the classes would change each year depending on the numbers in each year group, so sometimes all of his year group was in the same class, and other years they would divide between two classes (they always did that strictly on age so there'd be no argument!).
It worked very well for him - primary classes are usually being taught in ability groups for things like maths and reading anyway, so it just meant the ability spread in the class was wider, but they were still each in groups for their ability IYSWIM. For other subjects like projects etc, they would all be doing the same topic, but the teacher would expect more quantity and detail in the older years projects, or would set more complex worksheets etc.
Are you in Scotland? If so, another advantage is a maximum class size of 25 which compensates for the wider ability spread. Not sure about England though.
My dcs had
Class R (a couple would stay down if deemed necessary)
Class 1 - Y1 plus some Y2
Class 2 - rest of Y2 plus all Y3
Class 3 - Y4/ some of Y5
Class 4 - rest of Y5/all Y6 (typically, though in dd1's class a couple of boys never made it to class 4)
Not great socially - some friendship groups found they were split every 2 years. Some kids also viewed themselves as less able when they were kept down. Didn't work in top class for able kids - not stretched in the final year. Problem with KS1 being split too.
I moved nos 2 and 3 to a school with single groups. Much more cohesive socially and better academically. Better for sport too. Must be a nightmare to teach too. I know of a lot of bored children at the old school. No question about the school no 4 will start at in September!
We are waiting for my DDs school to announce what they will be doing with her year however it is obvious it will be mixed somehow (Y1 and Y2), the school has mixed classes higher up the school too. For me the main con is that they have a wide range of ages in the class i.e. up to 2 years and this is a huge difference at any age. If composite classes worked and were best then they would have been introduced nationally. I guess to a certain extent it depends on the school and how big the class will be. My DDs school is in special measures - they can't get it right with single age year groups let alone mixed. Another con would be SATs years - would the children who were older be given more attention.
For me I can't think of any pros but would be interested in other mumsnetters ideas.
Academically they work just as well as groups are ability based anyway, rather than age based. Stretching the top group will always be an issue in the final year of primary as the ability range is often huge - composite will make little difference to that.
Socially, there can be a few issues if the school changes the make-up of the composite class every year.
I think there are some pros to being in a small school which is all composite classes, as it can have a good "family" feel, with bigger ones looking out for the younger ones. But a composite class in a bigger school just to sort out the numbers doesn't seem to me to have that advantage.
I am in a position where my daughter (only 5 in May) is going into a year 1 and 2 combined class. She goes to a large lower school with a one year 1 and one combined class. The age difference issue does concern me too
Both my DS spent their entire primary school years (at 5 different schools between them) in "composite classes" apart from Reception. I rather thought that single year classes were the exception. The classes were always then divided up again for ability groups for Maths and Literacy/English so that academic DS1 was always in top groups, whereas less academic DS2 tended to be in middle groups where he was in the lower year and top groups when in the higher year. Within the groups there tends to be slightly different work for the younger year than for the older year.
Our school has composite classes which change depending on the class numbers each year. It does have pros and cons but it is what we have so we make the best of it.
My DS is a late July baby so if a class is split then he has stayed in a class which includes the year group below e.g this last year he has been in a Year 4/5 class, being a year 5 child. Being one of the oldest in the year he has grown in confidence socially, but it hasn't been the best for his academic progress as he is one of the brightest in his year - he is frequently bored and says they've been doing the same things as the year before. However, having said that he has been assessed at Level 5 SATS when the expected average for Year 6 pupils is a 4, so teaching mixed year groups can't be that detrimental (for him at least).
My DD is also a summer child and she benefits from split year groups because she struggles academically and it is a time when she can be in one of the top groups, so helps her tremendously with her learning confidence. The downside being that all her friends are the older children in the year and she loses contact with them to some extent.
It would be more ideal to have children in single year groups but we have a small village school with widely fluctuating yearly intakes - my DS's year group is 26 so very large, whereas my DD's is only 10, so mixed years are a fact of life.
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