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mixing classes

(38 Posts)
Calliesmum Thu 16-Jul-09 10:28:31

My daughter is just finishing year 3. For the second year running the headteacher is mixing up all year classes (there's about 60 pupils in each year). This is happening in all years in the school. It is difficult to find any systematic rationale put forward by her to justify this practice.

I understand that annually mixing up classes is increasingly common.

Does anyone know of any evidence to show that this is helpful to the children?

Any pointer towards any research, evaluation or evidence on this would be most appreciated.


dilemma456 Thu 16-Jul-09 11:21:58

Message withdrawn

Calliesmum Thu 16-Jul-09 11:38:40

My daughters school is in London, with a high turnoever of kids. She has lost each of her three close friends over the past 3 years. Her confidence is low, she comes home wanting to take a book to school so she can read at playtime. Its taken months for her to make new friends - all but one of which will be in the other class. The boy who bullies her is in her class.

For me the friendships I made in school were hugely important, and having a close friend at school made it bearable. It's hard to imagine a situation where adult friendships are broken up with such abandon.

I think bullies should be split from their victims. And that if there's a problem with a class - which can be solved by mixing - then fine. I'm at a loss to see why it is mandatory...

dilemma456 Thu 16-Jul-09 12:14:11

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Calliesmum Thu 16-Jul-09 12:47:28

I'd just like to see some of the science behind this. It is causing much debate at school, again. Rather than work on hearsay I'd like to know whether there has been any work done to assess it's impact - and move forward in a way which is for the best for all the kids.

The head has taken it upon herself to split the classes herself. No-one holds out any hope that she'll move any kids to back - there is no appeal.

Bullies leave a lasting impression on our lives. So too do friendships. I

'm not against mixing up kids to ensure the class works. But this is all kids, every year. I can see there may be some advantages, but if the children don't have any certainty in their school lives, are unable to form strong long-term friendships, or 'have fun' in class laughing with a mate - then is this really going to help their education? I come back to my concern that this mixing of classes is based upon people's feelings. That's all we've had from the head and some of the governors (my child made a new friend when they mixed on holiday).

Does anyone out there know of systematic assessment of this practice?

clam Thu 16-Jul-09 13:57:43

No, but you raise some interesting points. It does seem in this case that the Head has taken an idea that is beneficial in some cases, and is over-using it. I've never heard of that being considered 'good practice.'
In our two-form entry school , we have been known to jumble the classes, but only when really necessary, not least because of all the aggro it causes (although it may be that your Head is trying to avoid parents acquiring a sense of entitlement that their child will stay with their mates all through primary). It is a nightmare to balance two classes of 30 children, and take into proper consideration balancing gender, ability, age, personalities, friendship groups etc... It takes us ages to organise when we do have to do it. I can't imagine anyone choosing to do that for no good reason - especially once all the tears and complaints start after publication of the lists!

sameagain Thu 16-Jul-09 16:02:16

In any class there will be 2-3 children who should be split up, for the benefit of themselves or the rest of the class, but you can't just move 1 child out of a class can you? I can just imagine that post!

IME, it upsets the Mums far more than it bothers the children, who just get on with things (with some exceptions I accept) The schools do try and take some account of friendships though.

Calliesmum Thu 16-Jul-09 17:13:27

Keeping with the idea of 'evidence', is there any out there to prove that this is a good thing to do? Is this entire new culture based on heresay?

Is it helpful to split up a pair of disruptive friends; and have them being angry and friendless in separate classes?

Every child in this school - regardless of how confident or shy they are, is now looking forward to next year with a different teacher, harder lessons, and a different class. So no certainty. Is this good for children?

Are there any parents out there who were split up from their friends at school - who can tell us how this impacted on their lives?

Is there anyone that can tell me where the idea of mixing classes sprang from, and what
is the main purpose? At the moment all I see here - and at school - is a lot of opinion.

pooka Thu 16-Jul-09 17:24:41

Well they can just move a few - last year the class dd was in, and the parallel class, were left virtually intact. But 4 from each class were swapped because of behaviour issues and pastoral reasons.

This year, the classes have had a better dynamic, and are being left as is. The reception classes though are being completely mixed in an attempt to improve the class dynamic and to make teaching more effective.

So at dd's school it seems to be a response to issues rather than a routine practice. Which I'm happy with.

pooka Thu 16-Jul-09 17:27:26

Thinking back, during my whole time at primary school (definitely from year 3 upwards, have a more vague recollection of infants) we were never mixed. As far as I recall. I know of other schools where they as a matter of course mix classes at end of Reception and end of KS1.

So it seems to be a definite moot point about the purpose and efficacy of the practice - some schools favour this approach and others don't. Have no studies to back up my gut feeling that if there isn't a behavior problem or pressing need for a mix-up I think that it would be an unnecessary and possibly upsetting thign to do.

Calliesmum Fri 17-Jul-09 17:28:19

the response from the head teacher on this is

"As before I believe it is the parents that are more concerned over the 'mixing up' of classes. I also believe that school should depict life and life is as unpredictable as the class choice. Our children, given the credit, will adapt naturally and be all the better for it - without the intervention of us parents! They are very resilient - more than we give them credit for. They will learn to mix well with others, make new friends and see the old at break time lets stop wrapping them up so they can't breathe shall we!"

So, lots of leeway there.

frogs Fri 17-Jul-09 17:52:17

FWIW, in both the schools my dc have been in (2-form entry school in inner London) they keep the classes the same all the way from Reception to Y6 (apart from kids leaving or joining the school, obv). So mixing is by no means universal.

pooka Fri 17-Jul-09 20:58:43

Well I would be fuming at the headteacher's response if my dd were a pupil. She is in Year 1, about to go into Year 2. The idea that she would have disruption in year 2 and then in year 3 would be really unpalatable. School should be nurturing IMO just as much as a "lesson in life". Shouldn't go out of it's way to 'mix things up' and keep the kids on their toes - if the by-product of this is upset children.

Calliesmum Sat 18-Jul-09 11:19:46

I am fuming at her comments. We've moved 4 times in the past 5 years; her dad travels a lot so she's often missing him; and she's been through quite a list of close friends who have then moved away. Her current friend is also likely to move in the next 6 months. She get's plenty of real life at home. And I'm sure there are plenty of other kids in the school whose homelife is equally 'real'. I find the cotton wool remark purile. She has no knowledge about the homelife of the kids in her school.

snorkle Sat 18-Jul-09 16:36:57

At my dcs school the classes are mixed at the beginning of every year from year 3 to 6, then again in year 7 along with around 50% new intake. The benefits are that everyone knows everyone by the end and playtime groups are not divided by class. Dd for instance is good friends with every girl in her year (year 8) & is extremely good at making friends.

I don't know of any research, but I'd agree with the head that children are more resilient than we think. I suspect the problems are more likely to be with the parents than the children themselves.

Calliesmum Sat 18-Jul-09 17:53:03

Interesting, but I would like to see some research or evidence that demonstrates that mixing kids up year after year works - and who it works for. As opposed to swapping opinion.

In my daughter's case, having one friend after another up and leave, and struggling to make new friends and cope with rejection, has left her extremely shy and lacking in confidence. She isn't good at making friends. This isn't about wrapping her in cotton wool, or being a neurotic mum, I don't much like seeing her unhappy.

mrz Sat 18-Jul-09 18:57:26

I can't actually see any useful purpose in mixing up the classes in your daughter's school where there are clearly enough children in each year group to make two stable classes. Is the school grouping children by ability?
If anything there is plenty of research to prove that children actually thrive in secure bases which provide stability.

snorkle Sat 18-Jul-09 22:37:25

lots of educational research stuff at nfer and at eric. You'd have to trawl through to see if there's anything relating to re-grouping multi-class year groups, but I'd have thought there's bound to be if you can get the search parameters right.

Calliesmum Sat 18-Jul-09 22:47:19

brilliant, thanks for the references, will go and have a trawl.


BikeRunSki Sat 18-Jul-09 22:48:10

I went to a French school (30+ years ago) and they did this then, every year. First day of year, there were notices up in the playground showing the new class lists. I believe the reasons were just as Dilemma456 stated. I thought it worked - I had one good friend, who stayed a good friend all the way through school. We all got break times and lunch together, so friends weren't premamntantly seperated. And like Dilemma, I didn't have to spend lesson times with a girl who bullied me. I don't know whether the mixing was done at random, to split up cliques/bullie and victims, by ability or any other method.

cat64 Sat 18-Jul-09 22:53:47

Message withdrawn

FairLadyRantALot Sat 18-Jul-09 23:00:44

hmmm....mixing classes can be great or it can be rubbish...I think if avoidable as such it should be dome with a system, and if unavoidable than defineely try to mix them well, with keast interuption...
although young kids can be flexible some aren't

seeker Sun 19-Jul-09 06:51:58

At our school, they are randomly allocated to one of two classes in Reception, then carefully mixed for year 1. They are then not mixed again apart from an occasional switch.

This was started a couple of years ago and it works well. My ds was in the last reception year not to be mixed and it has resulted, for example, in one year 3 class with a "top" table of 7, and the other with a "top" table of 2, with one particularly bright child. And in one year 3 class with a disproportionate number of particularly challenging children. If they had been "sorted" when they went into year 1 it would have been much better for all concerned.

Clayhead Sun 19-Jul-09 08:42:04

This is not exactly a new thing - my school did this and I am 36 now!

Both my dc have 'changed' classes during their time at primary school and it has resulted in them having a very wide group of friends and yet, despite which classes they are in, their closest friendships seem to remain.

DrNortherner Sun 19-Jul-09 08:50:42

I was chatting to an old schol friend of mine about this the other day and remembered that when I was in primary school we had mixed classes too. I met her in Year 1 and we became best friends, then we were seperated all through primary school yet still remeained best friends, we happenned to be in the same form when we went to high school. And we are still in touch now! Even though seperated in primary school we still met up at play times, and after school and we did music lessons together.

Do you kow what? I would hate to be a teacher these days, all I see is mothers fussing at the end of a school day waiting to talk to them, lots of mums I know I stressing about the new classes in September and they do this continuos fussing in front of their kids fgs. So of course the kids pick up on anxiety and it could creat a problem when there need not be one.

Surely we should just teach our kids that this is the way life is? We don't always get what we want and we mut be positive and make the best of it?

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