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How do split classes in primary work in reality?

(23 Posts)
Tvetenia Fri 25-Oct-13 15:25:02

We just went to look round a school which has an admission limit of 38 in YR and I think has had that for a few years, so larger years up to about Y2.

My experience of split classes was that you'd be in a form of 30, with about 1/3 from a different year. This does seem to be the case at this school, but on our visit today, the year groups were being taught together, so 38 kids, 1 teacher and 1 assistant. That seemed such a large group.

The member of staff showing us round was quite vague about what went on and it seemed massively confusing to me.

Is this how it works? There's just so much to take in on these visits and the other schools we've been to have shown us round at times of the day when the kids were in smaller groups so it's hard to compare.

YDdraigGoch Fri 25-Oct-13 15:27:35

Absolutely fine in my experience.

Bear in mind that there is only a couple of days/weeks between the oldest in one class and the youngest in another class.

Tvetenia Fri 25-Oct-13 15:32:09

Yes, YDdraigGoch that's what I thought and was fine with it - I was in one for most of primary. I think that mixing is generally positive.

It's the bundling them back into their large year groups that I hadn't realised happened.

YDdraigGoch Fri 25-Oct-13 15:36:20

I've read that the size of the class doesn't affect how much children learn - though I'm not convinced myself.

However, I'd go on the general "feel" of the school rather than anything else - do the children look happy? Do the staff look stressed? Are the buildings in good condition (though some wear and tear obvs acceptable).

We chose the school we did because they had year 6 children show us around, and not a member of staff. They said it was because the children would give honnest answers, and as a school, they had nothing to hide. We liked that.

Cat98 Fri 25-Oct-13 17:02:00

We have split classes at our school and in the main it seems to work ok, it's done strictly on age which can concern some parents, me included, but overall they seem to differentiate well and they encourage lots of interaction between different year groups anyway (small school).

lljkk Fri 25-Oct-13 20:13:39

38 children in a single reception class to one teacher, did I read that right?

CecilyP Fri 25-Oct-13 21:38:30

Split classes are very common in Scotland where you are guaranteed a place in your catchment school, which means the year groups are quite uneven. However, a composite class cannot have more than 24 children.

spookyskeleton Fri 25-Oct-13 21:45:33

There are split classes throughout the DCs school and it seems to work well. They are split in ability rather than age which I think is much better so DS1 is currently in a mixed yr3/4 class and he is thriving smile

They also teach maths and literacy across the year groups, again based on ability so, for example, you will have maths groups with a range of year 3, 4, 5 & 6 children in who are all at the same level. It does seem to work well but occasionally siblings end up in the same group which doesn't impress the older sibling confused

Tvetenia Fri 25-Oct-13 22:54:17

It was 38 in year 2 I think, so the yr2 kids from the full and split classes were being taught together while the yr 1s were doing something else.

Cat98 Sat 26-Oct-13 08:21:48


Bakingtins Sat 26-Oct-13 08:32:37

It has worked well in my son's school. They have a 45 intake so 2 small YR classes of 22/23 pupils, then they have 90 children spread across 3 classes, so in KS1 there is a Y1, a Y1/2 and a Y2 class, and so on up the whole school. The whole of KS1 do the same topic on a 2 year rolling cycle, and the work is differentiated for the different year groups as well as the different abilities. My son is thriving. Last year he was in the mixed class and was able to work mainly with Y2 students (he's one of the oldest in his year) and now he's in a Y2 only class they have put some extension strategies in place for him.
I think the only potential downside is that half his class will change each year, but they do make some effort to keep friends together, and on the flip side he has a large social group from kids a year either side of him. The classes are worked out on some complicated formula involving ability groups, keeping friends together, seperating the trouble makers etc. I think it must be a nightmare logistically!

I think what would concern me was if they were vague about their strategies for dealing with it. Can you go another time and speak to someone again?

breatheslowly Sat 26-Oct-13 08:45:21

Were you shown round by a member of teaching staff or office staff. I think you need to talk to a teacher (or possibly a TA) to get this kind of information. But teaching in a group of 38 sounds like a breach of the infant class size limits , thoughiam no expert.

Cat98 Sat 26-Oct-13 09:26:13

Haha not sure what went on there sorry!
Just wanted to say that I totally misunderstood the op when I replied, I thought you meant mixed classes containing different year groups as in a small school! Sorry smile

Herisson Sat 26-Oct-13 16:46:22

Our school does much the same as bakingtins' school and it has been great for my daughter (also in Y2). The advantage of a school that has split year groups (esp if your child is at the top or bottom end of the ability scale) is that the teachers are very used to having to differentiate quite widely and that can be a real help for children who might otherwise be struggling/bored.

It also means that children have wider friendship groups. One of the things I like best about DD's school is that there is so much mixing between year groups. One day, when she was in Reception, we were walking home and came across the choir who were on their way back from some out of school activity. Every child (Y1 right up to Y6) waved to my child and knew her by name. I was really impressed. I don't think at my primary (two classes a year) that I even knew by sight most of the children in other year groups.

DD in Y2 has friends in literally every year of the school, real friends that she plays with often and knows well. I love this and think it is a great preparation for life.

Euphemia Sat 26-Oct-13 16:57:42

25, Cecily.

pixiepotter Sat 26-Oct-13 19:43:37

sometimes schools do parallel mixed yr classes so a cohort of say 45 Y1s and 45 Y2s would form 3 parallel classes each consisting of 15 Y1s and 15 Y2s

lljkk Sun 27-Oct-13 11:37:10

DC school does the parallel mixed classes often for yr4-5.

ProfYaffle Sun 27-Oct-13 11:43:18

Our school has blended year groups. Ime it's better for the children who 'stay down' so they're the older ones in a group with younger children. eg dd1 was a Year 1 in a R/Yr1 class and loved being one of the oldest and most capable. dd2 however was a year 1 in a yr2/1 class and found it tough because she was the youngest (even though her birthday is February) She was 5 at the start of the year as some of the Year 2's were turning 7. She found it difficult to settle.

It's worth finding out if the school use a cut of birthday date to decide which year group the children go into. At ours it's the end of February so children with birthdays between september and February go into the older group (ie a Yr 2/1 class) and March to August birthdays go into the R/Y1. The problem is this just moves the 'August baby' issue to February. On the plus side it only last one school year so this year dd2 is a year 2 in a 2/1 class and loving it.

TenthMuse Tue 29-Oct-13 13:59:15

Just to sound a note of caution - I think split classes can work brilliantly, but it really depends on how it's managed, and where your DC would stand in this arrangement. I experienced this at my primary school and, while among the most academically able in my year, I was always kept down in the younger class because I have a July birthday. I remember finding this incredibly frustrating, as all my natural peers were in the older class, and I had no one to compete with. When it came to things like school plays and events, most of the 'action' would take place in the older class, and it often felt as if we 10 or so younger ones were an afterthought - we'd have to traipse along to the other classroom and stand at the back, and sometimes they'd even forget to include us!

There was a similar situation in the one school I've taught in that had split classes. One extremely bright girl in my Year 5 class missed the cut-off for the straight Year 6 class by a couple of weeks (April birthday I think) which meant she was separated from her established friendship group and kept down with only 5 or 6 less academic Year 6s and a low ability Year 5 cohort. Her parents complained but there were no exceptions made as this would set a precedent. She felt very bored and isolated in the mixed class and had a thoroughly miserable Year 6 (used to come and see me at lunchtimes for a bit of a cry!).

Finally, one of my friend's DDs (August birthday) has just gone into a mixed Year 1/2 class, and she's having issues because, while the academic level in the mixed class is about right for her (she struggled in Year 1 and has benefited from the slightly slower pace) her perception is that her class isn't a 'proper' Year 2 class, and that consequently she does not need to work as hard as her peers. My friend is getting quite concerned about the upcoming SATs, as her DD is under the impression she doesn't have to do them!

Not wishing to put a dampener on things at all - I've heard examples of where it's worked really well and the social mixing can be very positive - but I think it's worth having a chat with the school to determine how well it's implemented, and considering whether your DC would mind the switching around.

missinglalaland Tue 29-Oct-13 14:28:50

It's been a mixed bag for my dd. The two years she was in the younger half of a mixed group went well. The year she was in the older half wasn't as good. She was bored frequently, and it just wasn't an inspiring year. Next year she will be in a yr 5/6 class, but since it is year 6 (with the threat of SATS) I hope they won't let them Coast like they did in year 4.

Xoanon Wed 30-Oct-13 11:01:46

It's a dreadful idea. Avoid like the plague unless they do the splitting on ability, or unless you have an autumn born child. It hugely disadvantages summer born children if the split is enforced on age alone.

WooWooOwl Wed 30-Oct-13 11:41:26

Split classes can work well, but when they have to split the children into ability groups for literacy, there aren't always enough teachers to go round and TAs end up taking more lessons than they should. How well this works depends on the quality and training level of the TA, and on the communication between the teacher and the TA.

mrz Wed 30-Oct-13 12:39:07

my summer born children did well in mixed age classes (no TAs or splitting for literacy) small school with just 3 teachers/classes

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