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Class sizes. Pure yr group - 25+ Vs Mixed yr group - varies 12-18? Pros and cons pls

(14 Posts)
educator123 Wed 27-Mar-13 21:20:29

Interested to know the pros and cons as the two school i have as options have classes similar to the above.

For me i would imagine it much easier to successfully teach a class of 12 mixed rather than 25plus. I would worry that it would be hard for the teacher to really get to know the children and set/spread work appropriately.

So experiences and pro and cons of both would be great.

DeepRedBetty Wed 27-Mar-13 21:30:37

Mine went to a small primary school with three classes to cover the seven years. It worked really well. It was easy to make sure that the very numeracy-able little boy from year 4 was working with year 6's

Euphemia Wed 27-Mar-13 21:44:49

I've taught small classes of 12-16 and to be honest I prefer 25! There's a better buzz, more energy to a larger class. It's more productive, there are more ideas going around.

ClayDavis Wed 27-Mar-13 21:50:47

I'm with Euphemia and would prefer 25. 16 is the smallest I've taught and I wouldn't want to go any smaller than that.

LegoIsMyFriend Wed 27-Mar-13 21:58:57

My DD has had 2 years at a state primary with 30 children in a class. I can honestly say I have always felt that her teacher knew her (good points and less so!) and definitely no problem with differentiating work for her.

LegoIsMyFriend Wed 27-Mar-13 22:00:12

Sorry, just to be clear, the classes have been a single year group but with huge range of abilities

chickensaladagain Wed 27-Mar-13 22:02:31

I would worry about the small school and friendship groups

not many children the same age to forge friendships with and there is a huge difference between a 5&7 yo

educator123 Fri 29-Mar-13 08:47:25

Thanks - in the smaller school they all seem to play together across the year groups so not sure if friendships would be an issue has a very family, caring feel.
What concerns me is that at some point they will be in a class with two other year groups (3 classrooms) although like I say it maybe a class of only 12.

I do think it must be hard to miss a child that needs extra support with the low number and the teacher should get to know the children very well.

On the flip side the bigger school has more opportunities for things like sport but like I say, to me, who isn't a teacher I think how can you teach25-30 as well as 12!?

The larger school has put a cap on class sizes at 25 but I know this can change if the council insist they take more.

Very hard to know which is best - they both have a good feel for different reasons.

teacherwith2kids Fri 29-Mar-13 10:28:32

I have taught classes of different sizes - from 12 covering 3 year groups, through 16 of 1 year group, via 32 of 1 year group, to 33 of mixed year groups.

From that experience, I would say that 25 of a single year group is just about ideal.

IME the difficulty of planning effective teaching is influenced less by the number of children than it is by the spread of abilities. In my class of 12, I had children working at 'equivalent ages' of between 18 months and about 9 years. So to effectively teach every child would have required me to split the planning of activities 8+ ways, as there was only 1, or at the very most 2, children working at each level. As that is humanly impossible for every lesson, however dedicated and experienced the teacher, there is always an element of compromise. And with such a small and diverse class, working in pairs or groups, even for brief paired discussions, was not particularly effective as a learning tool, whereas that buzz of collaboration and semi-independent paired or group working can be a real feature of other classes.

The single-year class of 25 was very similar in some ways - a huge spread of abilities, including some children with very significant SEN, but the difficulty of planning was no greater because there were simply more children at each level, and paired / group work could be really effective e.g. playing a maths game together, collaborating on writing a poem, working as a guided group at a similar level with the teacher or TA.

In many ways the easiest class to teach was the 32 children of a very similar ability and a single age group. As the need to differentiate planning 5 or 6 ways was no longer such an imperative (I know that mrz's school does this differently, with an emphasis on whole class teaching, so differentiation can be achieved in different ways, but in the schools I have taught in, strongly differentiated independent / guided tasks after a whole class introduction has been the dominant teaching style), focusing on individual difficulties could become the focus of planning and teacher attention during the lesson. So e.g. the whole class could be doing quite similar work independently, with me collecting together a varying subset of children, or even 1, who had a particular difficulty and delivering a really focused session just to them. However, socially I think that 32 is too big and overwhelming for children of primary age.

educator123 Fri 29-Mar-13 10:43:42

So if we take away the teaching element. Which do you believe is most beneficial to the children as a whole?

The small school seems very nurturing and the seem to instill very good values and all look out/help each other. They have limitations on things like team sports etc but whatever they do every child gets an opportunity to have a go. And the get out and about in the area I assume because of low numbers. Things like welly walks, forest school etc.

The larger single form entry of 25 has extra curricular everyday a selection of things lots of sport clubs etc but I worry maybe they won't always get to be a part of it with numbers being higher. Or that they may feel under pressure or not good enough if not picked for thing. So there are more opportunities but will they get to utilise them!? Will they learn the same values or become numbers!?

Want to get the right balance of being happy and doing thing they enjoy and achieving in the academic areas too - hard to know where they will be better all round.

teacherwith2kids Fri 29-Mar-13 12:27:21

It depends a lot on your individual child. I moved DS from a school with 20 entry (though c. 30 in each class, through mixing year groups) to one with 60 in each year group, and both he and DD have absolutely thrived in the larger school.

HOWEVER, both my children are 'outliers' in terms of ability. In the smaller school, DS was isolated - he was the only child of his ability, and none of the others were anywhere near him. It was, both socially and educationally, a big issue [in reception, his best friends were the Year 6s who allowed him to play football with them --and who protected him from those in his own class who objected to his 'difference'--]. The school as a whole, however, presented as friendly and all children playing together etc - it was just that there were too few children for there statistically to be others who were near DS. Had he been of nearer average ability, then he might well have had a totally different experience.

By moving him to a bigger school, suddenly DS had a 'near peer group' - simply through statistical likelihood, in a year group of 60, there will be more children at each 'point in the ability scale'. He has thrived socially and educationally, as has DD, who though not so obviously 'different' would still have been an outlier in the smaller school.

It has made a difference e.g. in availability of L6 maths - DS passed it along with 9 others, whereas none took it in his old school as the teaching was already stretched over 2 year groups. In terms of teams - yes DS played in some teams, but he hasn't in others ... but then the presence of children better than him in sports as well as in various other subjects has inspired him to do better.

And in terms of transfer to secondary, DS has taken to it like a duck to water - his secondary is only 3x the size of his primary, and so the transition is much less overwhelming.

Personally, I would never have sent my children to any of the small schools i have taught in, purely due to lack of peer group. But as I say again, that's due to their 'outlier' status (OK, mixed age groups are fine when you are in Yr 4 doing Year 6 maths...but when you are in Year 6, where are your peers to stretch you?) as much as anything else.

teacherwith2kids Fri 29-Mar-13 12:31:15

(Oh, and about the 'becoming numbers'. 1 form entry is still a small school. In my children's 450 pupil school, the head knows every child by name. Teachers who have never taught DS or DD know them - e.g. DD's new teacher frequently asks about how DS is getting on at secondary, even though she never taught him. You have only to read their schoiol reports, go to parents' evenings, even go in and ask the school secretary something, to know that each child is well-known and cared for [e.g. school secretary rings up 'DD is here, says she feels sick. It's not at all like her and she doesn't seem at all her usual self, please could you come and collect her?' - personal knowledge of each child. And that's in a school 2.5x larger than the larger one you are proposing]

educator123 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:13:50

Thank you teacher that is really helpful, interesting and reassuring.

I'm in a slightly different situation as my dcs are already at the smaller school and although not unhappy as such a couple of your points stand out to me!

Dd1 in year2 mixed class with year3 apparently never gets anything wrong or struggles with anything.
Her intake year consisted of 5 two of zilch she gets on well with one very well but said child has moved to the 'other' school.
She LOVES all sport she has had the chance to try and it is limited in a school of 45. I was worried can't moving her incase the opportunity to try everything became less or if it would set her back.
Another bit that stands out is that your son was playing with the older children. During cross country dd has been running upfront with the year6 children for the last two years, she thrives on activity

Dd2 in reception isn't unhappy either but not exactly skipping out the door to get to school and just plays with a year 6 girl most of the time. I'm worried about moving her as she in progressing very well don't want to confuse or set her back.

But after what you have said it's made me think my instinct of thinking they may have lots to gain somewhere slightly bigger. Me on the other hand would be very sad to move on and lose the walk school gate conversation...we are an outdoor family so love the walk but don't want that to over shadow what maybe better all round.

Two more children not of school age yet to consider too.

educator123 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:20:38

Hope that makes sense - predictive text and lots of interruption smile

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