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Village school has merged classes

(23 Posts)
fifidog Sat 20-Nov-10 17:14:28

We are looking at primary schools for our son and the one we are interested in has recently changed to teaching some classes together.
For example, they have a class with some yr1's and 2's in it, then another class with yr 2's and 3's. Apparently this is due to lack of teaching funds.
I am not sure whether this is a good thing or not, has anyone got any experience of this?

MaudOHara Sat 20-Nov-10 17:23:25

I have.

Small school with 20ish per year so mixed R/Y1 class; Y1&2 class; Y2&3 class; Y4&5 class and a Y5&6 class.

The perception is that the brighter children always move up whereas the less able children "stay down" however this is necessarily the case as the teachers are experienced at differentiating and moderating.

It makes friendship groups very fluid but thats about the only issue and not necessarily a bad one.

ChasingSquirrels Sat 20-Nov-10 17:25:47

small schools often have mixed classes.
Ours has just over 100 children and classes are arranged
1: YR & part Y1
2: part Y1 & Y2
3: Y3 & Y4
4: Y5 & Y6
There are obviously pro's & con's but personally I love the small school things that it goes with.

fifidog Sat 20-Nov-10 17:26:51

Thanks for that, do you know what happens when say a 'brighter' student reaches the last years class, but isnt old enough to move to secondary school? Im not saying this will happen to us, but it would worry me that they may become bored whilst waiting to move on etc!

spanieleyes Sat 20-Nov-10 17:31:22

The teacher makes sure that the work fits their ability, it shouldn't matter which year they are in, I have yr 6's working at well into secondary levels, they are extended just as you would extend a yr 2 working at yr 4/5 levels!

lollipopshoes Sat 20-Nov-10 17:34:12

my children go to a school where classes are mixed. They are:

nursery & reception

Yr 1 & 2

Yr 3 & 4
Yr 5 & 6

Sometimes, 3,4,5 and 6 are all together as well.

It works.

Dd2 is very bright. She's currently in yr 2 but is being given work that the year 4s are doing.

At her last parents' evening I asked about later on when she's yr 5 or 6 and not old enough for secondary school but may be able to do the work and the teacher told me it's not a problem, they have shipped in work from the high school for other children before and will do it for dd2 if necessary.

My worry is when she gets to high school - if she's already done the yr 7 or 8 work, what will she do for the first couple of years at secondary as they are not so flexible.

KittyFoyle Sat 20-Nov-10 17:34:43

Our school has 80 children
Reception (who go to Yr 1 and 2 in the pms)
Yr 1 & 2
Yr 3 & 4
Yr 5 & 6

It has a lovely family feeling with older ones helping younger one with wellies and coats etc. Everyone knows each other and there is no bullying - everyone is very visible! The children move to different tables and it is easy to cater to strengths and weaknesses. The very able readers in Yr 2 go to Yr3 for literacy. Not sure about Year 6 high fliers - the year who just left were all very able so worked well together but the year coming up is a very different bunch.

The main drawback is there is a very limited pool of children in which to find friends so if none really emerge there's no where else to look within school (DD age 7 is finding this - no special friend on her wavelength). OVerall the pros out weigh the cons for us at the moment.

Whitenapteen Sat 20-Nov-10 17:36:32

fifidog good teachers will differentiate work for each child in the class - many will be working at a similar level but there will be those needing extention work and those needing more support and reinforcement.

Our school has paired year groups and although I was anxious at the outset to understand how a teacher could teach two years at the same time, 9 years on and with second child now in year 6, I can say that there have been no concerns and both children have made excellent progress.

One of the benefits of a small school is that children form relationships across the years and the ethos of care for each other is very present. All the children are known to all staff and also know each other from Year R to 6.

lollipopshoes Sat 20-Nov-10 17:44:12

oh, and, when dd1 went to high school, whilst she made new friends, the friends that she had at primary were always "special".

Even if they never hung around together, they were always there for dd1 if she needed them (as she was for them) and even now they've left, they're not "friends" but kind of family iykwim

fifidog Sat 20-Nov-10 17:50:23

Thank youn all so much, it has really reassured me, and I feel more confident in making the choice now.

hatwoman Sat 20-Nov-10 17:52:39

we have 50-something kids in our village school - 3 classes: infants; year 3+4; year 5+6.

last year dd2 was in a y3+4 class, except there weren't any year 4s - so it was a y3 class with 15 kids in. this year dd1 is in y5+6 - with just one year 5 and 12 year 6s.

I think teachers dealing with mixed years are forced to think - and teach - flexibly. I have been very impressed with the scope of extra curricular stuff they do, (I tink it may all be easier logistically) and with the benefits of interaction between years, and with the way in which teachers know the pupils. I would honestly be more worried about the potential for keeping bright y6s happy and engaged in our old school - a big suburban school with 60 kids per year - than where we are now. a lot more worried in fact.

I agree with kittyfoyle about the small pool of friends though. Al though I think there's a benefit in them all having to rub along and get on with people tey might not choose as best friends - more like real life tbh.

Bunbaker Sat 20-Nov-10 17:59:13

"I am not sure whether this is a good thing or not, has anyone got any experience of this?"
Yes, our village school does this as it only has five classes. The children are spilt according to birthday, not ability, but the teachers manage to accommodate the children's ability brilliantly. In fact DD's school is in the Sunday Times top 100 UK primary schools based on the year 6 SATS results.

DD has a July birthday so was "kept down" when some of her friends moved up. However, at parents evening her teacher said that she is performaing at top level 4 and borderline level 5 so it obviously hasn't held her back.

The only negative comment I have to make is that classroom friendships are split up regularly and for DD it hasn't necessarily been a good thing.

undercovamutha Sat 20-Nov-10 18:08:02

Our village school has children broadly split by age rather than ability in the younger years.
So currently there is:

Nursery (split am/pm) + younger half of yR.
Older half of yR + younger y1s.
Older y1s + y2
Y5+ Y6

Must have been a baby boom around 2005-7 as the nursery year, receptions and y1 each have about 25 pupils, whereas the other years have about 10-15 each year. Not sure what our small (space-wise) school are going to do if the years continue to increase in size!

I find that it works fine at the moment though.

lexxity Sat 20-Nov-10 18:19:38

My Son goes to a school with only just over 90 on the roll.

His school has 4 classes.

Everyone knows each other and it just feels a lovely homely place. We've all settled in really well and my Son is really happy there. All the Teachers, T/A's, dinner staff, etc know each and every child and their strengths and weaknessess. One thing we do really love is that specialist staff are brought in for the likes of P.E. and Music.

emptyshell Sat 20-Nov-10 18:22:55

It's not the nightmare it seems. I've only ever taught a "pure" year group class in one school I've taught in - and the range of abilities there was as wide as in most dual-year group classes I've ever taught.

Topic-wise you cycle them over a two/three year period - so everything gets covered over the time they're in the class (so year A for History might be Romans/Vikings/Egyptians and year B might be World War 2/Greeks/Saxons for example - plucking topics completely out of the air for that)... and for Lit/Num you can differentiate quite easily within the concept being covered - same as you'd do for ability groups within a class - but making sure you hit both year group's content. It works fine as long as the long-term planning is there for the subjects like History and Science etc.

Nicest class I ever had in terms of makeup and dynamics within the classroom was a mixed Reception/Year 1 - the Y1s were desperate to show how sensible and mature they were, the Reception kids absolutely adored the big ones and wanted to show just how clever they were getting and it just worked fantastically well!

SuePurblybiltByElves Sat 20-Nov-10 18:25:38

Marking a place. This will affect me so I'm very interested smile

dikkertjedap Sat 20-Nov-10 18:26:08

I wouldn't be so worried about the mixed classes but more the limited opportunity to mix with a wide range of children of similar age and the impact on forming friendships.

SkyBluePearl Sat 20-Nov-10 22:46:08

Its worked really well for my son. He gets inspired when with older year group but can also can lead/nurture when with the younger ones. Lovely school ethos, very creative, inspiring, academic, sporty, with a family feel,lots of clubs and good parental relationships. His confidence has grown over the years and he seems to be blossoming. The class he presently is in has a mixed ability year 4 with a very high flying year 3.

SkyBluePearl Sat 20-Nov-10 22:51:13

.... My son gets on well with everyone but has 3 very good friends in his year group, plus a few other very good friends in the year above and year below.

DiscoDaisy Sat 20-Nov-10 22:53:41

It's not just small schools who do it. My youngest DS is in a mixed class of yr1 & yr2.
His school has reception to yr2 and they have about 210 pupils.

2 classes reception
1 class reception/yr1
1 class yr1
1 class yr1/yr2
2 classes yr2

It seems to work ok but my other DS was in a yr1/yr2 class last year where the yr2s have since moved on to a different junior school. He really misses the yr1s who were in his class as they stayed behind as yr2s iyswim.

Clary Sat 20-Nov-10 23:03:14

DS2's old school has done the same thing this year as DiscoDaisy's.

Intake is 80 so no issues with friendship pool, but because of space/staffing issues, they have had to mix classes this year. Scool roll is more than 200 (infant school).

It caused some worries at first but AFAIK it is working fine. As others say, a good teacher will differentiate and in fact even teaching a single year group you need to anyway.

Clayhead Sat 20-Nov-10 23:06:26

My dc's school has nearly around 280 pupils and ten classes for the seven years of primary school so several classes are mixed year groups.

When my dc have been in them (which has been more often than not) I have noticed no greater range of ability than when they are in a class of just their year group.

Both dc have a range of friends in different classes due to the way they have moved through the school.

CardyMow Sun 21-Nov-10 00:15:08

Crumbs - All these schools are tiny. Wish there were schools like that here! In my DS's primary, there are:

2 reception classes-30/30
2 Y1 classes-30/29
3 Y2 classes-30/30/29
2 Y3 classes-31/32
1 Y4 class-33
2 Y5 classes-30/31
2 Y6 classes-29/30

Next years reception will be a 3-form intake as well. They are (yet again) going to be a classroom down when DS1's Y4 class go up to secondary, despite having built 2 extra classrooms 2 yrs ago.

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