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Mixed Year Group in Year 1 - bad idea?

(13 Posts)
Ellewood Fri 19-Apr-13 10:43:43

Hi there, We are looking to apply for a reception place at a school that has a mixed year group in the reception class and the year 1 class. We love the school but are just super worried at the dynamics involved in mixing year groups.

If my daughter joins the school age 4 she will be in a reception class which includes 6 of the youngest from the year 1 group. Then when she moves to year 1 she will stay in the reception class as a year 1 pupil (along with 5 others that are the youngest of the year 1 group and the new reception kids). This really worries me because a) she is a giant and of a similar size and maturity as most 6 year olds and b) won't that be incredibly difficult for the teacher to stretch the Year 1 pupils?

Has anyone had any experience of this set up before? The school's sats results are very good across the board - so on paper it looks as though they are managing it well but I guess you never know whether the child's results could have been even better...I would appreciate any thoughts on this! We need to make a decision pretty soon. <pulling my hair out with anxiety>

Thanks!

rrbrigi Fri 19-Apr-13 10:53:04

In my opinion school do these when they do not have enough children to put in the same class. E.g.: in my son’s school they took 45 reception children and they had one Reception class and one mixed Reception and year 1 class. The head teacher was very keen to tell us that it is very good for the children, but I was a bit worried. This year they extended the school, so in September they will accept 60 children in Reception, so I asked the head teacher how they will mix the classes next year. And he told they won’t mix classes any more (and he was pleased that he does not need to mix the classes). I was a bit confused once he told us that mixing classes is for the children interest and now he is happy that he does not need to mix the classes. It seems my son will be lucky because there will be only 23 children in his class.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 19-Apr-13 12:48:15

Our school does this and it works very well. The split for year one is done on 'readiness' rather than age though. The children who stay in the class with reception are generally the ones who have a greater need for a less formal style of learning and the ones who move to the class with year two are those who are more ready for the more formal learning. The work each year group does is different - the teachers are very used to having to work with a range of attainment levels and for example the mixed reception and year one class will have a carpet activity counting objects then the reception children go on and count items as part of a game and the year one children will do a written activity counting groups of objects learning about basic data handling etc. We have 4 classes currently split YR&Y1, Y1&Y2, Y3&Y4, Y5&Y6 but this varies year on year due to fluctuating year group sizes - in recent years it has varied from 6 to 28 children.

PastSellByDate Fri 19-Apr-13 13:31:44

Hi Ellewood:

Our school doesn't do this because we're single form but a friend is at a 3 form school and they have one form which includes children from upper year group in class R. That form was a mixture of older Year R pupils (so turning 5 early in school year) and younger Year 1 pupils) so just turned 5 or turned 5 late last school year) in the main. It was also used for those pupils still struggling with early phonics/ reading out loud work from Year 1.

It seems to work well - the children don't just stay there the whole year and later it works that if you are ahead of the year group you can move up (so a bright year 1 can join Year 2).

Class R are always well looked after and I suspect that this isn't a new system but is one that the school finds works for them (for logistical or educational reasons or both).

Finally bear in mind that at most nurseries children ages 3 - 5 are placed together -so it works elsewhere.

If you're deeply concerned - why not ring the school and ask to observe the mixed Class R/ Class 1 group - you are perfectly entitled to do so and it may put your mind at rest.

HTH

madamginger Fri 19-Apr-13 14:34:16

My daughters school does this. They have a YR so all the new intake, then a mixed yr1/R for any over flow, a mixed yr1/2 class and a YR2. It seems to work well, but I know that last yr when DD was in reception a couple of the mums whos DC went into the mixed yr1/r class worried that their DC were over stretched and missed out on some of the play work that goes on in reception

Ferguson Fri 19-Apr-13 19:19:32

Hi - exTA (male) here :

After I retired from ten years as TA in an infant school, then two years in a comprehensive, I did several years as a voluntary helper in a small primary school with only three classes, and I helped in the R/Yr1/Yr2 class.

The teacher was very good and well organised, and there was certainly no disadvantage to any child due to the mixed ages. Indeed, for the younger, able child there is the advantage of sometimes working with a higher group; and for the older but less able, they might sometimes work at a lower, less stressful, level. A good teacher should be differentiating lessons within a class anyway, and even with three different ages in a class the spread of ability might not be very much different from the range of abilities within a single year group class.

So I don't think you need have any worries for DD whatsoever, PROVIDED that the teacher is competent and organised; as you consider it a good school, then one assumes she should be.

DD might not thank you for the 'giant' label (!), but she should be happy to maybe be similar in size to some older Yr1s.

Also, please don't fret TOO much over academic performance in a primary school, as many other aspects are also important : ethos; environment; the rest of the curriculum, particularly physical activities, arts & crafts, singing & music; clubs, outside visits, links with other schools, or the wider community.

[ Glue your hair back on, and no more anxiety, please! ]

Bunbaker Fri 19-Apr-13 19:26:58

DD went to a small village school that had only 5 classes. All the classes had mixed years in them like thus:

Class 1 - reception, younger year 1
Class 2 - older year 1, all year 2
Class 3 - All year 3, younger year 4
Class 4 - older year 4, younger year 5
Class 5 - older year 5, all year 6

This school is in the top 50 primary schools in England, gets outstanding ofsted reports and over 65% of year 6 achieve level 5 in KS2 SATS. It is an outstanding school in every way and I was very sad when DD left to go to high school.

If it is a good school you don't need to worry about mixed year groups.

MilkRunningOutAgain Fri 19-Apr-13 19:42:53

I agree that when its done well, mixing classes works well. But when it isn't it doesn't. My dd has experienced both. The school has 4 classes comprising eyes and ks1.

This school year the school has got it right and all is working well. there is 1 yr r class and three mixed yr1 / yr 2 classes with equal numbers of yr 1 and yr 2 in each and a mixed ability range in all three classes. The school was able to organise in this way because the yr r intake was smaller than usual so all yr r's are in 1 class.

Last year was problematic and not a positive experience for dd. There was 1 yr r class, a mixed yr r / yr 1, a yr1 class and a yr 2 class. My dd was one of 9 yr 1 pupils in the mixed yr r / yr 1 class, of which only 3 were girls. She was quite isolated from the rest of her year group and was frequently called a baby by the kids in the pure yr 1 class, as were the other 8 kids. She got very few party invitations, rarely saw her best friend because of different times for lunch and break. Unfortunately she didn't really get on with the other 2 girls and so was left to herself a lot and was lonely. Academically, she moved to yr 2 behind in several respects, and seems a lot less independent than the children who were in the pure yr 1 class. For example, she didn't do spelling tests in her class, and she didn't memorise number bonds or count in 2s, 5s and 10s. Her current teacher has expressed surprise a number of times at the things she and the other 8 have not done and their inability to do independent work.

So I'd say do check the set up. Mixed classes can be great, but handled badly, they present problems. I think our problems were exaggerated by the unlucky fact that dd's teacher was probably not as good as the teacher of the pure yr 1 class, but this wasn't the main reason she was unhappy last year, the main reason was her isolation from the year group who she had just got to know in yr r.

Ellewood Sat 20-Apr-13 07:05:57

Oh my goodness - thank you all so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I think many of you have echoed our own feelings about it - that it could work if the teacher was good, but I think the problem that milkrunningout has highlighted - that our DD might be isolated from the rest of the year group - is enough of a reason for us to decide against it. I think we knew in our hearts it wasn't the best option for her but I just wanted to get some other opinions as we love the area and school. As I said, our daughter looks much more like a 6 year old than a 4 year old so it just doesn't make sense for her on that level alone.

Thank you all again for taking the time to share your experiences. It really crystallised it for us and helped us to make a much quicker decision!

And milkrunningout - I really hope your little has managed to overcome that year. It made for very sad reading and i hope she is doing well now!

schilke Sat 20-Apr-13 08:36:25

Our village school used to just go up to end of year 3. There was a mixed yr1/2 and yr2/3 class. Reception was separate.

Ds1 was in the younger half of the year and was a year 2 in the year 1/2 class. It was great for him - boosted his confidence as he was one of the oldest in a class.

However, when it came to ds2 the school was forced to split the year 1 class due to numbers - they had a very small reception intake, so put the younger year1s with reception. I must stress that ds2 was perfectly happy, but I felt it wasn't a great year for him. It was probably more to do with the teacher not coping with the 2 years. I feel that reception should be on its own. She spent more time with them and ds2 was left drifting.

If it had been ds1 it might have worked better, as ds1 was a slow starter. Ds2 was off and flying and I just felt he needed to be in the year 1/2 class. I am normally happy with class splits (currently dd2 is a yr2 in yr 1/2 class and that is great), but simply think reception is special!

Sorry - waffly and not really said much!

NewFerry Sat 20-Apr-13 08:53:04

Both my DS were one of 6 yr 1s in a split reception year 1 class. The advantages of staying were that the reception children looked up to them, they were the special helpers in the class (great for self esteem), and they were on a separate table for most work so formed a really close friendship group.
Academically, they covered all the year 1 syllabus, but were much less pressured as they weren't with a teacher who had year 2s, and year 2 Sats to contend with.
In year 2 they joined the years 1-2 class and found they coped brilliantly with the stricter routines as they were a bit older, and 2 or 3 from their group went straight into the top ability tables, proving that they had covered everything.

Suffolkgirl1 Sat 20-Apr-13 15:34:15

DS2 is at a primary school with intake of 45. Reception is 2 small classes - 22/23. Other years mix - Years 1/ 2, years 3/4 and years 5/6.
He is currently in one of the three year 3/4 classes. The curriculum is topic based and works on a two year programme, eg. some children do romans in year three others in year four. Work is differentiated by the child's key stage target (regardless of age/year group). It seems to work extremely well.
Single intake primary has its own problems as the 30 children tend to be stuck together for seven years. This makes problems with friendships and bullying much harder to resolve.
Personally having seen both I would opt for the mixed year groups.

Sparklymommy Mon 22-Apr-13 09:54:24

My DCs are at a small village school where there are only three classes. They are as such:

Class 3: reception and year 1.
Class 2: years 2 & 3
Class 1: years 4, 5 and 6.

This does change depending on the numbers in each year group but no class has more than 25 children in at any one time. I currently have children in years 5, 1 and reception and my youngest has just got a place for September. In my opinion this works well. The school is well run and the children are encouraged to mix with other age groups. The older children take good care of the younger children and the mixed classes encourage the younger ones to be interested in what the older ones are doing. My DD, currently in Year 5, is above average in everything and works mainly with year 6 children.

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