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Would this concern you?

(26 Posts)
Cat98 Fri 22-Mar-13 18:39:19

Ds is 4 and in reception. He is very advanced for his age (I know, I know - typical mn child wink seriously though, his teacher has flaggged it up so its not just us, and she says typically he's working at yr1/2 levels for literacy and "way beyond" this for numeracy, as well as picking things up very quickly in all areas.

He is, however, quite emotionally young - not excessively so, but probably about normal for his age or a little below. He's one of the youngest in the year.
He apparently sometimes doesn't listen well during carpet time, the teacher says it's partly because she has to "pitch carpet time to the middle and he often already knows what she's asking the others". She knows this, but also has asked us to reinforce at home that it's important to listen to her and the other children, which of course we have.

Anyway - he's already in a mixed nursery and reception class, though nursery are only there for 2 hours of the day. But next year, because of numbers, apparently there's a chance he and just a few others from his year will be kept in year R in a mixed year R/1 class (but also nursery too for the 2 hours.) It is done strictly on birthdate, so even though he's the most advanced academically in the class he would stay "down".

Now I know it may help him being emotionally young, but I'm also a bit worried about his academic progress - the teacher said she's try and stretch him but if he's already bored in carpet time won't he be even more so next year? I love his school but aibu to be a little concerned about this? Or do you think it can work ok?

thank you

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 22-Mar-13 19:20:00

I'm in two minds. If the school is good at providing differentiated work, it could be quite good. It would give him the chance to be the oldest in the class, not always be the little one etc. And at the same time, there will probably be less sitting-still-and-listening time than there would be in a full Year 1 class, so he will have a chance to grow out of the fidgets without constantly being "in trouble".

But that only applies if they take his academic needs seriously. I'd be wanting to go and have a proper discussion about that.

tribpot Fri 22-Mar-13 19:29:42

I wouldn't have liked that for my ds, although I think AChickenCalledKorma has made some excellent points. My ds is also one of the youngest in the year but is not super advanced academically.

However, he struggled to settle into Reception and I wouldn't have wanted to separate him from his friends, particularly if they plan in Y2 to address this by having two classes? So he'd have a year away from his peers and then rejoin half of them?

Whilst my ds might have benefited from the extra one-to-one time on his basics (have just received an instant message from him with no finger spaces in - he's in year 3!) I would be worried they'd end up going over old ground and not being stretched - even more so for your ds who clearly needs it.

I would also worry some of the older children might make out they'd been kept down for a reason, although I'd hope they were a bit too young for all that in primary?

Equally if I was a parent of one of the Reception children being put into this mixed class, I don't think I'd like this idea either. I don't understand how the school has got into this situation, where it sounds like they've effectively taken on more children than they can accommodate but not so many they can split into two classes?

Periwinkle007 Fri 22-Mar-13 19:30:17

yes I agree I think if they do give him the chance to develop academically then he could be in a great position to gain the confidence and listening skills etc that he hasn't got at the moment (although we are still only in March so there is no saying he won't develop these next term anyway)

I think you need to have a proper chat with them and you want some sort of plan for how they can make sure all the children in his position will still get the chance to develop further than reception.

what happens the following year - does he go straight to year 2? I haven't come across mixed year classes really (round here they are always rigid to years because they are so full). so you would need reassuring that he would be fully prepared to go straight to year 2.

Do they need to keep the nursery in with the mixed R/Y1 class? are they not able to keep them separate perhaps if the circumstances have changed and now there will be Y1 children in there too?

Pozzled Fri 22-Mar-13 19:43:22

I would be concerned. I don't think it's appropriate to decide the classes purely on birthdate. They need to demonstrate that they can meet the needs of every child - if they think that your son is a child that will benefit from being in a R/1 class then fair enough, but they should assess the children as individuals, not birthdates!

I would also be concerned about the 'teaching to the middle of the class' comment. It does happen occasionally, and sometimes with topic type work you don't know in advance what skills and knowledge the children already have. But the teacher should not be expecting your son to regularly sit through whole class sessions where he already knows what is being taught. She needs to make some kind of provision for him in that situation.

ElBandito Fri 22-Mar-13 22:55:32

You are right to be worried. This exact same thing happened to me nearly 40 years ago and I'm shocked it still happens now. In my case after a term it was decided that as it was obviously wrong to hold me back in a mixed class they would put me ahead in a mixed class. I belonged in a class with my friends of my age.

Ask, what will happen next year? How many current friends will be in this class?

I lost a connection with friends as I was moved twice.

Started the year bored and ended it crying when suddenly I wasn't top and didn't really understand why.

Doing theses things purely on makes no sense at all. It just means they don't have to think too hard about who to pick.

Mutteroo Sat 23-Mar-13 00:31:20

The emotional side is vitally important to your child's well being & for me personally, its more important than academics. My DD had a miserable two terms in a combined yr.3/yr.4 class where the weaker yr.4 pupils were mixed with the brightest yr.3 pupils.

DD was initially fine with the combined class until her best friend who was also in the class, left the school. I watched DD lose confidence in herself & it was the start of a downward spiral. I can't say being with pupils who were nearly 2 yrs older for those two terms, was the cause of DD's confidence issues, but it played its part. Moving her to the yr.3 only class was the right decision for her. I was warned she would be repeating work already completed & may well be bored. As DD had reached the point of being almost permanently unhappy, I doubt she was absorbing much information in the combined class anyway.

It is worth you discussing your concerns with the school. If they've got a bright child, they're not going to want to hold him back? Or at least I would hope not. They may have already thought of solutions for your son next year & if you've got concerns on the matter, these need to be addressed.

learnandsay Sat 23-Mar-13 08:02:34

I'd imagine that it's not so much the class that he's in that's the problem but what he's being asked to do. If he's being asked to do things that bore him stupid then the teacher should figure out how to ask him to do things that interest him and make him learn. I think the issue is with the teacher not the class.

Bakingtins Sat 23-Mar-13 08:24:01

My son's school have mixed year classes, but I'd be concerned about a few yr 1 kids in a reception class, as they will be doing mainly EYFS with the YR and nursery children which seems quite different to KS1 work. Our school have an intake of 45 kids and have 2 YR classes of 22/3 then 3 classes of 30 spread across Y1, Y1-2, Y2, all doing the same topics for KS1 but with work differentiated for different ages and abilities. It seems to work well. They don't decide who is on which class based on age, but by some black magic involving keeping friendship groups intact, ability and splitting up the troublemakers!
It might not be a bad thing for your son emotionally to have another year in a more relaxed atmosphere with more time to play if he is on the younger end and young for his age, but they need to have a robust strategy in place to deal with an increasing academic gap between him and a younger peer group. You could turn it round and say he'd benefit more from increased structure and more challenging work. It depends on what you feel would benefit him, but I don't think holding him back purely on age is a good strategy.

lljkk Sat 23-Mar-13 19:25:42

Done strictly on birthdate? That's a bit weird, Are school generally numpties?

About half the classes at DC school are usually mixed age and they are divided up mostly on basis of optimal social mix. Sometimes they regroup for specific subjects (setting).

I think OP would be right to pin the school down about how they intend to differentiate well for him in yr1.

elenotfun Sat 23-Mar-13 21:10:57

I had exactly this situation with my dd. she as a result spent most of year one working on her own. She couldn't do guided reading as she didn't fit into any of the groups in the class. She would be rewarded with stickers for keeping quiet during phonics because she already knew it all. Basically she pretty much wasted the year. The situation was set to get worse when she moved into year two as she was going into a mostly y1 class as she's one of the youngest. I questioned this at her last year one parents evening and was told it was done strictly on age and there was nothing to be done.
I saw the head about it and explained that my dd was fed up working alone, she was starting to feel like she was the cleverest person in the world with little effort, she felt different, she needed some competition, she needed a group to work with.
She tried to fob me off with differentiated work but I wanted her to have like minded children to work with. She agreed in the end and let my dd go into a full year two class. Dd has never been happier at school!!

simpson Sat 23-Mar-13 23:01:41

I would be incredibly concerned if this was my DD. She is in reception too btw and reads at early yr 3 level (according to the school) and yr1 level for numeracy (not amazingly ahead but still strong for EYFS).

DD has started tuning out of phonics and they have to write "tricky words" and the child who writes one first gets a sticker so DD has started to write "I" every time hmm

However, it does depend on how well your DS's school is at differentiating already I think.

Is there anyone else at your DS's school who is approachable (maybe HT or deputy) to go through your concerns?

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sat 23-Mar-13 23:14:47

It is the fact they do it on birthdate that is concerning. I think you should question this. The carpet stuff sounds poor too, he's a bit young to be bored already!

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sat 23-Mar-13 23:16:38

Also being bored impacts social development too so it isn't one or the other.

Cat98 Mon 25-Mar-13 15:05:55

Thank you for all the comments so far.

The school does generally mix classes all the way through, but apparently they don't usually mix yr 1 and Early years. Though this has been done "on occasion".
It's a small school, and they often don't get the full allocation of pupils in a class which is why they mix. Plus classroom numbers/space apparently.
Last year for example there were classes such as yr1, yr 1/2, yr 2/3, yr 3/4 etc.
Wrt splitting it by birthdate - other parents have mentioned this to me but said that it is because otherwise they always have complaints about who is "kept down" - so the best way is by birthdate as no one can complain then!
They always say it cannot be changed apparently so I don't think there's any point trying to get them to change it.

The q "are school generally numpties" (!) - well not really, it's early days but I haven't had much cause to complain - there have been one or two minor things but we've generally been very happy with how they do things and how they have spotted ds's abilities, and differentiated for him.

The carpet time comment I agree concerned me a bit, but I don't really know what else they can do - she said for example if she's asking them "name me a number more than 5 and less than 10", she will be asking ds "name me a number between 373 and 389" or something. So she does try and differentiate even then, she said that he would still get something out of listening to other children as he would get a different point of view sometimes, and also he can help explain things to them which is "good for him"...

He does enjoy school. But he has his core friendship group of 3 other boys and only one is likely to stay down with him if they do have to split class next year, so I don't think he will like that sad However there is also an older boy (Sept bday) who he doesn't get on great with and intimidates him a bit I think, so it might be good for them to be split up.

Can you suggest how I can approach them re the academic concerns for next year, if this class mix does go ahead? I don't want to be pushy with them, and I know they will have lots of other kids to think about - but how much is reasonable to expect them to differentiate, and how would you phrase it? I'm hopeless at things like this!

Thank you

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Mon 25-Mar-13 17:05:15

It is ok to be pushy!

simpson Mon 25-Mar-13 17:56:41

Do you have another parents eve before the end of the school year? If so I would raise it then or ask for a separate meeting to discuss it (which is what I am going to do but am going to leave it a few months).

teacherwith2kids Mon 25-Mar-13 18:04:37

I would arrange for a meeting about it, fairly early in the summer term (as in, before decisions are finalised).

Ask about delivery of EYFS and KS1 curricula simultaneously in the mixed class, especially with the addition of nursery (R / Y1 classes are relatively common in small schools, but the addition of nursery is a further complication). Ask about differentiation for your son, possible social issues / benefits of being with his 'near age' peers but possible educational isolation through his own particular needs, access to the resources and teaching that he needs to move forward. Ask how it will be ensured that he received a comparable education to those in the older mixed class - will the teachers plan together so that he and the other Y1s with him get the same or similar input to the Y1s in the other class (this is normal practice in the split-year classes in schools i have taught in), will access to reading books, maths resources etc be facilitated (ie are all the higher level reading books in the older classroom? Or are they in a corridor or library so that all children can access thm equally easily?). Be clear that you are not opposed to the idea AS LONG AS they can show that your child will receive the education that he needs to keep him making progress.

RedHelenB Wed 27-Mar-13 09:30:18

I can think of two children that were in a rec/y1 class based on age not ability as Y1's but they scored the highest SATs in Y6. It really is not a big deal & if he needs more time to mature will probably only be a good thing.

teacherwith2kids Wed 27-Mar-13 09:36:01


tbh, if it was a R / Y1 class purely, I'd be saying the same. It is the addition of nursery, plus the fact that it is a relatively small number of Y1s (in many schools, equal numbers of Y1s are in each of the classes, 50% in a R / Y1, 50% in a Y1 / Y2) that would have me seeking some reassurance.

So if, for example, 1/3 of the class are following the KS1 curriculum, as would normally happen in a mixed R / Y1 class, then planning and differentiation is both worthwhile and probably a well-trodden and established path.

However, if, say 3-5 out of 30 are following that curriculum, and it's not what normally happens, and there is Nursery to differentiate for for 2 hours of each day (and I would guess probably the first 2 hours, when in many schools the most focused learning is done), then I would want reassurance about what is going to happen e.g. shared planning from the class above, a dedicated TA or teacher for the Y1s, access to resources suitable for Y1 which are not normally kept in that classroom etc etc.

Cat98 Sat 30-Mar-13 09:35:13

Thank you. Apparently nursery will have their own teacher so although in the same open plan classroom, ds's teacher would only have reception and yr1. There will also be TAs. So maybe it will be ok.
It is true though that there would only be a few yr1s apparently so this would make it harder for them to differentiate I would think, plus the resources, plus the fact that ds is likely to be working even beyond yr1 level next year. Thanks for your tips teacherwith2kids- we will do as you suggest and ask for a meeting. Part of the problem is though that we won't know the Arrangements for definite until July!

RedHelenB Sat 30-Mar-13 09:42:31

The class i was talking about had less y1 to rec btw.

teacherwith2kids Sat 30-Mar-13 10:13:51

RedHelen, a normal ratio would be e.g. 10 Year 1 : 20 Reception (if the school has a PAN of 20, then this is the most common way of mixing).

I gathered from the OP that in her case it might be much more like 5 or fewer Y1s.

Cat98 Sat 30-Mar-13 17:49:44

Yes that is likely as I think the current nursery class (next years yr Rs) is about 25 so presumably only 5 yr 1s could 'stay down'. If this is the case there would be 3 girls, ds and 1 boy - who thankfully is one ds gets on with, though not one of his 'best' friends.

iseenodust Sat 30-Mar-13 18:20:53

Yes it should concern you. We had this with DS for yr1/2 split. He is Aug birthday and they would only do by birthdate. It meant the class was heavily skewed towards girls in both years, there were more than twice as many yr1 than yr2 in the class, DS was with none of his friends and bluntly the gap for differentiation was not bridged. I queried it as soon as we heard the plan, also at the start of the autumn term and then when it was clear it wasn't working. That school was indeed headed by a numpty.

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