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Dividing classes in same year group according to age

(33 Posts)
london111 Wed 05-Mar-14 12:43:14

Just thinking about the fact that on average children born in the Summer do less well than Autumn children and wondering why schools with at least two classes per year don't divide them according to birth month?

I am not thinking of streaming per se so not based on ability but age. Clearly with the same educational goals for both. This would mean that Summer born children don't suffer from always feeling a bit behind.

My experience (limited!) of Primary suggests they do the opposite and try to ensure a mix across both classes. Anyone know why?

Seeline Wed 05-Mar-14 12:46:31

Because not all summer borns are behind, and just because you are born on Sept 1st does not guarantee that you'll be the cleverest!!

london111 Wed 05-Mar-14 13:00:33

Totally agree. Clearly natural intelligence is not linked to any particular birth month so what is it that explains the outcome variances that we see on average. And if, as I think, it is linked to summer born children comparing themselves unfavourably to Autumn born children, the situation might be helped by dividing the class where possible.

drivinmecrazy Wed 05-Mar-14 13:10:55

My DD2 school did this. She's a late August baby and, unfortunately, does struggle academically at school.

She's yr4 now, and i would say it has been an unmitigated disaster (proven by the fact the school have not subsequently replicated it).
It would have benefited her enormously to have older kids to aspire to and look to. Expectations for her class are far lower than the achievements of the other yr4 class.

And it's certainly not true that all summer borns are at a disadvantage.
If I was a parent of a high achieving summer born i would have lynched the Head by now.

The only benefit I have seen is that DDs class have had the same (amazing) TA follow them all the way through school, and it is her who has given so much support for my DD and the other 5 or 6 kids who are still struggling due to their immaturity.

i also have a yr8 high achieving DD1 who really suffered no ill effects of being educated in a mixed age class. Infact, by yr 2 or 3 many of the DC working along side her were summer borns.

AMumInScotland Wed 05-Mar-14 13:11:39

I think, in England, the problem is largely that 'summer borns' are being sent to school before they are developmentally ready for it! They are being asked to do things, and behave in ways, that really don't suit a lot of them very well, and they struggle to get past that.

Up here they start about 6 months later on average, due to the different intake years, plus parents of the younger half of the intake year have an option of deferring if they think their individual child would benefit from it. And I don't think there are any studies which show the same kind of ongoing effect of the child's position within their year group.

Kezzybear Wed 05-Mar-14 13:12:17

Not all summer borns are behind. Children with September/ October birthdays aren't always top of the class. In RL you don't just work with people who were born at the same time of year as you. I think my children's school tried this for a year, a few years ago and it didn't work, they now mix all 3 classes.

DeWe Wed 05-Mar-14 13:35:09

It would have been bad for my dd1. Because all the top groups apart from her (and most of the second) were in the different half of the year by the end of year R.

Oh and what was the spread? DD is an autumn term baby, the rest of the top ones were July and August birthdays.

hootloop Wed 05-Mar-14 13:40:25

Well my 31st August birthday son is really quite bright and certainly worthy of his place in the top third of his streamed class.
I would not be impressed if he was put in a class hich was based on his age not ablility.
Equally my November born daughter is only in nursery class but she isn't very bright and would certainly struggle if she was put in a ckass of high flyers.

pancakesfortea Wed 05-Mar-14 13:43:43

I know big schools that do this. Ours is one form entry so obviously doesn't/can't. What I have found with two august born boys is that they started in bottom groups and gradually worked their way to their natural place on the ability tables, which varied by subject.

Spindelina Wed 05-Mar-14 14:14:27

My local school is two form entry and splits the classes by age for reception, but then shuffles again for year 1.

People seem to like the system, but no personal experience yet!

ReallyTired Wed 05-Mar-14 14:23:15

My son's primary did this for reception and then mixed up the two classes in year 1. Eight years ago entry to reception was staggered so it made sense for the winter and the summer intake to start together. However it makes less sense now to seperate children by age as children all start reception together.

Teachers are supposed to meet children's needs with the EYFS. Many schools have a mixed foundation stage where nursery and reception chidlren freely mix. The immature August born boy can choose to spend the entire day in nursery if they want to. The child is provided with activites based on their ablity rather than their birthday. There are a few three year olds who are ready for phonics and some five year olds who need to concentrate on basic fine motor skills.

drivinmecrazy Wed 05-Mar-14 14:57:39

Sounds perfect reallytired . If only a majority of schools took that approach. Would have suited DD2 perfectly. Her nursery teachers had real concerns about her not being ready for reception, as did her reception teacher.
i believe this approach would have drastically helped DD2 build up her confidence, and enforce her basic skills. We truly believe many of her problems are because she wasn't given enough time to solidify her foundation skills.
She surely cannot be expected (as she was) to blend sounds and words when she was still not secure with the phonetic alphabet. I believe more time in the nursery stage would have given her the confidence to move on.

As parents we did everything we could to support her, but the true fact was she just wasn't ready. It feels as though now she is having to work so blardy hard just to catch up and stay abreast with where she should be.

Hard to watch when we know she's a real bright spark who has just been treated so poorly at foundation stage.

Meita Wed 05-Mar-14 15:12:08

Confidence, derived from being the big fish in the small pond, is one thing. (But think of the kids who struggle/are the weakest in the 'young' group? What will it do to their confidence? They can't even blame being much younger than the other kids anymore).

The other thing, and this is known to be a key reason for lower achievements of the summer borns compared to the autumn borns, is expectations. When expectations (from teachers&parents, but also from the children themselves) are high, children achieve better.

Now this is a problem in mixed-age classes as well: Teachers and parents may always 'expect' the young ones (the young boys especially) to struggle more than others. But at least they get a chance to prove themselves, and they see other kids doing stuff and feel 'I can do that too'. Whereas if you split them by age and then have a group with high expectations in general, and a group with low expectations in general, you might find it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy very quickly.

Littlefish Wed 05-Mar-14 17:11:40

This was the way that dd's previous school was organised every afternoon. the older children went to the year above and the younger children went to the year below (in certain year groups). I absolutely didn't work, in my opinion, particularly as some of the brightest children in the class were summer born. When in year 1, those children were educated with reception children every afternoon which had a fully play based curriculum which meant that they were not sufficiently challenged.

Jinsei Wed 05-Mar-14 20:07:48

It wouldn't work. Some of the highest achievers in dd's class are summer born, and as a parent, I wouldn't have been impressed if she had been placed with a younger group - she has always been more mature than most of her classmates as it is!

Hulababy Wed 05-Mar-14 20:20:33

It used to happen at my school.

We have 3 class intake and until the rules changed a couple of years ago classes were divided by age.

About 2/3rd of the intake started in September, making up the first two classes. The younger children, born Marh 1st or later started after Christmas - comleting the 2nd class, and making up a 3rd class.

They stayed like this until the end of infants - I think the next schol shuffled them for juniors.

However, it did mean that expectations for the younger class were often a bit lower - and tbh it didn't really benefit them. They started later, had less time in school and some even joined a pre existing class who already knew the teachers, each other, routines, etc. And this really affected them throughout infants and into juniors.

We now have one intake - in September. But all children can defer starting until term after their 5th birthday through parental chice In ractise, at our school, most choose not too.

It may be coincidence (we have made other changes throughout school in that time, as schools do) but expectations, pupil progress and actual attendance has increased for all children, especially summer born.

Summer born children still remain a focus/target group, along with other groups use as EAL, boys, pupil premium, etc. so they are carefulyl monitored every half term - but at present the gap between summer born children and others has narrowed a lot at our school.

wearymum200 Wed 05-Mar-14 20:29:47

Ds1 first school did this for reception and, certainly for him ,it was a v poor idea, exactly because of the expectations issue. Altho' he was only 2 days younger than the youngest in the other class, his class didn't get reading books for the 1st term as "they're too young to start" and other silly nonsense around age banding rather than dealing with the individual.
The classes did get mixed up in y1 tho'.
In the longer term, it hasn't done harm as far as I can tell (how would I tell for sure, I can't clone him and send the clone into the older class) ,but he resented hugely being one of the baby class and not being allowed to have books or do what he saw as the more intersting number games going on in the other class.

neepsandtatties Wed 05-Mar-14 21:24:24

So the schools where the classes are not split by age, are they split by ability, or a random reshuffle?

Our 40-pupil entry was split by age in reception into two classes, and the followiing year there was a year 1 class (25 yr 1 pupils) and a year 1/2 class (with 15 year 1 pupils). The 'top' ability year 1s are in the mixed class. Interestingly, 11 out of 15 of the year 1 children in the mixed class were originally in the 'younger' reception class, i.e. the younger cohort are higher ability

Meglet Wed 05-Mar-14 21:53:54

neep the dc's school split totally randomly across Y1/2 , Y3/4 and Y5/6. Although they do put them in smaller ability groups for numeracy, phonics and reading. From what I see, and from chatting with other parents, it's working well.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 05-Mar-14 23:13:46

The split at DD's school is based on personalities and working style. This has ended up with one class mainly with Jan, Feb March birthdays and one class with the autumn and summer children in.

whycantIchangemyusername Wed 05-Mar-14 23:33:51

This lumping together by age is one of the reasons we ended up moving DD to a highly selective private school.

In original school oldest reception DCs were placed with youngest year 1s, in year 1 those same children would move into a mixed year 1/2 class. Head teacher insisted that all reception children received the same education, however as a parent helper I saw this was untrue. Whilst the reception only class counted up to 20 and back again, day after day after day, the mixed class learnt counting in 10s, then they learnt repeated addition of 2s (i.e. 2+2+2 as the precursor to times tables).

2 boys from the reception only class that were advanced in maths were allowed to have some maths lessons with older year groups. The girls that were advanced in reading / literacy had to keep repeating phonics sounds they knew, were not given phonic instruction commensurate with their level, nor were they allowed to join other year groups despite it being acknowledged that they were working at a year 2 level (i.e. not just good decoders).

Needless to say summer born DD has come on in leaps and bounds at a school with high expectations for girls (being an all girls school). The highly selective intake includes an equal proportion of autumn and summer birthdays, slightly fewer winter/spring ones.

There is no easy, suits all, system. Whilst statistically older children are ahead of younger ones, this doesn't work on an individual basis. That's why differentiation, when done well, is so critical. Even in DDs highly selective school there are about 2 whole level between the top and the bottom, at the previous state school there were 4!

exexpat Wed 05-Mar-14 23:44:22

DS is August born, and I actually rejected one offer of a school place when we arrived in the UK in the middle of year 4 because they had one class for year 3 and the younger year 4s, and one for the older year 4s and year 5. DS would have gone into the younger class, but would definitely have been more at home with the year 5s in terms of ability (and also size, as it happens).

Any age cut off is going to be arbitrary and is not going to suit some children, but I think schools need more flexibility, which they can actually sometimes get from having a broader spread of ages and abilities in one class, rather than limiting themselves to a narrower age range.

DS's previous school (in Japan) had classes with a three-year age spread, but children did different activities in different small ability-based groups, so you would sometimes get the youngest and oldest children in the class working together.

vikinglights Thu 06-Mar-14 09:41:39

My school did this many moons ago. I think it was a bad idea because as the younger class we were presumed to be inferior to the older class

vikinglights Thu 06-Mar-14 09:44:56

Dd's school on the other hand is very tiny and mixed age classes. That Sees til work well in that every Child is treated as an individual

Spindelina Thu 06-Mar-14 14:22:33

Lonecatwithkitten how are personalities and working style assessed before the start of reception?

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