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90 in reception, no class groups?

(20 Posts)
heliotrope Tue 06-Sep-11 08:57:27

Was interested to find out that in my child's school there are 3 teachers and 3 TAs for the 90 (eek) reception starters, but no class structure. They all teach across the 90 in 3 different 'spaces'. If we need to talk to anyone we can contact any of the teachers - and if not resolved, then the head of early years (one of the 3). They say they find it is better for them all to get to know all of the children.
When pressed they said they do sit in 30s on the mats at the beginning of the day, but the children don't know they are in class groups. Apparently this makes it easier to structure them into Year 1 if they want to move any.

If this sounds a bit confused it is because I am! They are confident it works better this way (although previously only had 60 in reception). Sounds a bit overwhelming for a 4 yo though. I just wondered if this is the new way of doing things - anyone else experienced tihs kind of set up?

Thanks

kickingking Tue 06-Sep-11 09:04:15

I am not 100% sure, but in my experience as a teacher in a primary school (I teach older children though) and as a parent, I think Year R children still need to have a named keyworker? This is usually either the teacher or the TA in their class.

MmeLindor. Tue 06-Sep-11 09:08:47

It sounds like it would be hard on the children, not having a fixed keyworker. Especially younger children who are nervous about new people.

What area of UK are you in?

heliotrope Tue 06-Sep-11 09:12:23

In London.
I thought so too about the keyworker, I should have asked them that specifically. Probably they do have that structure but just don't make it into a 'class' structure. Presumably they have to do observations and stuff at some point.

CaptainNancy Tue 06-Sep-11 09:15:14

We looked at a school like this, and rejected it. We saw the school in session around November time (so children been there 10 weeks or so) and it seemed like utter chaos- dd was visibly distressed while we were in there.
Was it not mentioned before you applied?

Runoutofideas Tue 06-Sep-11 10:36:57

My dd is going into a 90 intake reception, but 3 very definite classes which will continue the same until the end of Yr2. For my children, I would hate the one large class thing, as they need the security of knowing who's who at that age. Another local school though has a 60 intake and does the one big class with 2 teachers thing and the parents I know whose children go there think it works fine. It did put me off it when I looked around the school though.

admission Tue 06-Sep-11 10:47:40

With the reception class being part of the foundation stage there is much more emphasis on learning by play (though hopefully in a structured way). That is why the school nominally has three classes of thirty to meet the infant class size regs, but in reality the 90 are all allowed to work and play together.
If the school have got this working well, the three teachers and three TAs will in effect be supervising and working with 6 groups of kids who will change groups and activities as the day goes on. The kids will benefit from having a much wider group of friends and also get the expertise of 6 adults rather than just 1 or 2.
If the school have not got it working well, then as CaptainNancy says it will be utter chaos.
I would just let it go for at least a month and see how your child settles down. If after that time they do not seem to be adopting to the situation, then might be a good time to go and have a talk with the head of early years.

plinkplonk Tue 06-Sep-11 14:54:01

'Apparently this makes it easier to structure them into Year 1 if they want to move any.'

Easier for the school, tough on the kids! I guess they will settle down and it will be like nursery - multiple adults etc - but on a huge scale. A friend's dd goes to an outstanding primary that has 4 classes. They are organised in classes but random groups of 6 from each class are taken out to work together. She's hated it (the dd - and the mum, for that matter) and wishes she had gone for another school. But I do get the feeling that a lot of the kids are happy - it is certainly a massively oversubscribed school.

I guess you have to keep a close eye on your dd and hope she teams up with a best friend fast. Hope it goes well.

rocketty Tue 06-Sep-11 16:58:20

tbh this sounds like a recipe for sad, lost little 4yos. They're still finding their feet socially and emotionally at that age, so to plunge them into an environment with 89 other noisy, needy people doesn't seem the best approach sad

heliotrope Wed 07-Sep-11 10:26:48

Thanks all especially admission for your balanced advice. There aer lots of happy parents and children at the school and it always looks liek they're having fun. The teachers really inspire confidence as well. Certainly they do have groups rather than one big holding pen of children, but to me it woudl be better for them to feel a sense of belonging to a single class. However I am overly emotional about the whole start of term this week so will have to get a grip on myself and see how it goes! Will report back in a coupel of weeks.

madamarcati Wed 07-Sep-11 17:35:11

Sadly i think it goes against all the wisdom on child development/psychology.
I guess some 'expert' trying to make a name for himself has written a paper on it , and schools trying to be'progressive' have leapt on it.Common sense will prevail in a few years and theidea quietly drooped, in the meantime what of teh little guineapigs, who have had to spend their first year at school like this sad

Chestnutx3 Wed 07-Sep-11 19:38:27

Your child is being experimented on, I think its shocking to be honest. My DC is in a class of 16, my local village state school has a reception class of 14 this year. 90 is madness. I would give it until half term and see if your DC is coping with it all.

drkej Wed 07-Sep-11 20:24:10

90 is not madness - just needs to be well managed - my son just started as 1 of 90 but they do seem to be dropped off & picked up from same classroom & managed by same teacher. That said in between times according to him they can go in any of the classrooms.

It's not experimenting it's learning through play & I would prefer than than a very small closed group of 14.
Am not sure your advice Chestnut of giving it until half term then seeing is that useful - and then what??? Clearly you have no idea what pressure most of us are under to get reception places.

Heliotrope - I think what you think is going on and what is actually going in terms of supervision/group work may be very different. Our school also puts them in formal classes from yr 1 and is then able to work out who would like to be & who shouldn't be together!

losingtrust Thu 08-Sep-11 19:32:55

My DD went into a 60 reception but there were three teachers and three TAs and whilst throughout most of the day it was a free for all, learning through play, they were put into three groups with a TA and teacher for each to do registration etc and you had parents evening etc with their allocated teacher and spoke to her only (all female). Sounds a bit chaotic in yours.

rocketty Thu 08-Sep-11 19:34:04

seriously? drkej would rather have a group of 90 kids than a group of 14?

Well don't come to our school as there's a group of 17 very settled children there in class 1. hmm

losingtrust Thu 08-Sep-11 19:35:39

By the way I do prefer the bigger class as it gives the children a chance to form wider friendship groups and allows them to do their own thing a lot better. My DD was only just 4 and fitted in well and the learning through play in a larger group is much better.

losingtrust Thu 08-Sep-11 19:40:27

It also means that as the kids get older the school can change the classes round in later years without the children feeling a big change. My DD is now in Year 3 and they have completely changed the two classes but because they are all used to playing together in the playground it was less upheaval. She has settled in straight away to her new class. The school sees it as a year group and sometimes friendships that are proving too disruptive are split up into a different class the following year. My DD and her friend have been split up but she prefers it because she said her friend was always talking in class and they play in the playground now instead.

madamarcati Fri 09-Sep-11 12:56:25

we have only 4 reception children this year and 14 in the class (R Y1 Y2). It's fine and in a way helps children get on with people they wouldn't necessarily have sought out as friends.Of course the teachers know the children inside out and the planning is spot on.hence massive value added all through the school

Chestnutx3 Fri 09-Sep-11 15:10:11

I also think there is alot of value in having to get on with a group of people. What is so beneficial of wider friendship groups, isn't it better to be able to get on with anybody and everybody and diffrent types rather than choosing the certain type. My DC would choose only quiet friends given half the chance, that doesn't happen in life.

heliotrope Thu 20-Oct-11 22:04:17

I said I'd report back and am happy to say DS has settled brilliantly in reception, he seems to have responded well to the structure and loves the staff. For the first few days it was hard for him to be left when there were so many children doing free play around the classroom (he finds that hard) but now all children go to their named books on mats / tables around the room and all is calm. I think their activities in the day are actually really structured and so it actually is not really an issue how many children there are, as the ratio is the same as it would be in a single 30 class. (I can see into the reception classroom when walking past the school and it always looks very organised).
So I just want anyone who looks at the thread with similar concerns in future to be reassured that it has turned out not to be such a problem as I thought - so far at least.

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