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Any teachers of mixed age classes around?...

(19 Posts)
Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 11:05:09

Thinking of moving ds2 (5) to a small school that has mixed age classes.
So reception and year 1 are together.
How does the teacher differentiate for each child?
My son is in the top groups for phonics and numeracy...will they ensure he doesn't just coast and challenge him?

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 11:20:02

How does the new school fare in the league tables and compared with similar schools? Have you spoken to the teacher about your worries? We have a tiny village school in our area which consistently outperforms its neighbours. We have another smallish school in our area which consistently under performs. Personally I suspect that the class sizes and mixtures aren't the only reasons for the differences. The head teachers couldn't have been more different even though they were women of similar looking ages.

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 11:22:24

According to the data dashboard it's the best of the 3 local schools for ks1 attainment.
It had a bad ofsted last year though, and I know lots of improvements are being made.

YoullNeedATray Sat 08-Feb-14 11:29:22

Teachers in mixed classes differentiate for their pupils' needs in exactly the same way as teachers with non-mixed classes.

Every class and every pupil is different. I currently have a mixed class which has a narrower ability range in maths than the single year class that I had last year, but the range in literacy is far wider. We adapt and plan accordingly.

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 12:16:38

Thank you.

LindyHemming Sat 08-Feb-14 15:44:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 16:17:58

I suppose that is my hope.
Just wondered if it were possible in reality!
Is there any benefit in mixed age classes in your opinion?

lljkk Sat 08-Feb-14 16:32:59

You really must put your concerns to the school, but knowing that talk is cheap.
Even better would be to talk to parents with kids at the school and ask them about their experience; obviously you want to talk to parents of high achieving kids. This will tell you vastly more than MN can reassure you about.

OldRoan Sat 08-Feb-14 16:35:45

I have a Y1/2 mixed class.

It is lovely to see the older children actively wanting to help the younger ones (silly things like not being able to reach something, or coming up to me to whisper "can I go and help X finish their work?" when they notice someone is staying at a table as the other children come to the carpet). I am careful to make sure the Y1s take responsibility for their actions/decisions, though.

It is also nice for the younger children to have role models within the class - obviously children of the same age can be a role model, but certain things in our school are 'reserved' for children Y2 and up, so it gives the Y1s something to aim for.

The main thing I have found difficult is choosing age-appropriate story books (or films for whole class rewards): I have Y2 children who read themselves The Railway Children, and Y1 children who struggle to concentrate on a story without lots of pictures and simple words.

I was terrified before I had them, but there are lots of benefits. As has already been mentioned, we differentiate the work anyway so the age of the child hardly matters.

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 16:43:17

I won't get anywhere with school, sadly.
It's the sort if school that treats parents like idiots sad you know "we are the experts" type thing. Well, they are not experts on my child. I am!
I do worry he won't get as much "play" time as he does now...I think the mixed class will be more sitting down iyswim?

lljkk Sat 08-Feb-14 16:46:16

wow, how bad must your other schools be if you still want to send him there.

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 16:49:00

Sorry, I mean his current school! [blish]

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 16:49:23

^ that was supposed to be a blush

lljkk Sat 08-Feb-14 16:57:59

ahhhh! Thanks! smile
DC have tended to be high ability in mixed yr group classes but older when the ability differences tend to be even greater and the experience has been good wrt their academic achievement. The worst experience was a tiny private school where literally everyone else, even the children in the yr above, was well below DS's ability. DS hates school & talks the usual teen talk about not giving a Fig about achievement & even he said he had to get out of there.

That's why I think talk is cheap, & you must find parents with kids in the schools you're looking at to get some real insight into actual practice.

Badvoc Sat 08-Feb-14 17:04:49

Yes I agree.
I will try and find someone to talk to.

Huitre Sat 08-Feb-14 21:29:55

DD was in a mixed age class last year. It was Y1/2. On the bad side, she was exhausted at first. The expectations were far higher in terms of taking responsibility for herself and her work than in the straight Y1 class. On the good side, she was really really challenged and extended academically in a way that I don't think she would have been in the Y1 class. Overall it was a positive thing for her but she found it v v hard at first, not only in terms of tiredness but also socially. A year makes a big difference in maturity at this stage.

LapinDeBois Sat 08-Feb-14 21:58:16

DS1 is currently in a mixed Y1/2 class (he's Y1). So far it's been fantastic, and he's got a huge amount out of mixing with the older children, both academically and socially. However, he's the oldest in his year and also pretty bright, so I do worry slightly about how well it will work when he's the oldest and one of the brightest Y2s in a class of Y1/2 next year. He loves helping younger children with work, so I'm sure he'll really enjoy it, but whether it will actually be the right thing for him, I don't know (I'm quite open to the idea that it might be - I just don't know.)

SuitedandBooted Sat 08-Feb-14 22:57:32

We took DD (now Y5) out of a mixed class primary last July, (94 children on role), and she now attends a school with one class per age group. It has worked out really well for her. She is good academically, and we have always encouraged her at home, (DH is a teacher!), -and is predicted to get Level 5/6 in all the KS2 tests next year. Before she moved, we discovered there were a lot of things, (particularly maths) that had never been covered in her old school, so she had a fair bit of catching up to do over the Summer.

In the mixed class school, there is a tendency to do fairly well when the children are in the younger group, as they are working with older ones, BUT when they are the eldest, they aren't stretched. Each class also has a Teaching Assistant, who do a lot - taking over one age group for a particular lesson/project while the teacher deals with the other.
From talking to other parents, I would say that things are the most difficult in Y3/Y4, - how do you differentiate for literacy when some children are reading The Hobbit, and others are still ploughing through Biff & Chip!?? Year 5 children also tend to get put aside in favour of Y6, who are building up for their SATS.

Friendships can also be a problem, as some children pair off quite rigidly, and others can be a bit stuck. Parents saying that their children feel lonely/have no friends is a well worn topic of playground conversation!
DS1 is still at the small school, and currently waiting for a place at the larger one. He is happy enough, but rather jealous of his sister, and the better facilities, school Clubs and trips that she gets to go to!
I asked DD if she enjoyed her new school, -"It's really nice, but I do have to try now!" Sums it up, really.

Badvoc Sun 09-Feb-14 08:47:28

We live where there is a middle school system so they start secondary in year 6 but yes, I do see what you mean re year 5/6.

The current school was very good for my eldest ds but my dc are very different characters.

I am taking ds back to the go tomorrow as he is still unwell. I will go and view the school as I have made the appt.

I really like the year 4/5 teachers at the current school but not so keen on the others!

There are currently 51 on the roll at the smaller school and 20 in the mixed class as opposed to 190 at the current school and 24 in his class.

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