small class size angst(28 Posts)
DD is in yr3 at a local independent school. I like most things about the school including the smaller class sizes.
However there are only 5 children in her class, 3 girls and 2 boys. Because of this she struggles with her friendship with the 2 other girls. Think "2's company, 3's a crowd' amplified! All 3 girls are extrovert and assertive but day after day I'm being given tales of how she is left out of everything.
To make matters worse, yr 4 is an all boy class and the girls in yr 2 are very young.
I've tried explaining to her how the girls need to team together as there are so few of them but am at a loss as to how to help her. Tonight for instance, I brought the other 2 girls home as the mums were busy. They completely ignored DD and she kept asking when they were going home!
I would have enormous concerns about the financial viability of a school with class sizes that small, not to mention, even bigger concerns about the social opportunities.
With so few opportunities for friendships, I'm not really sure there is very much you can do other than ask the teacher to talk to all the children together.
Does she go to Brownies or other activities outside school?
Hate to tell you but this won't get any easier. Year 5 girls are horrible and having such a small group will make things worse. Agree about viability a school with low numbers. Not so great for sport or trips either. One prep not so far away recently closed at no notice and another very small school is frantically trying to boost its numbers on the back of it. Do you have an alternative?
Thanks for your replies - can't quite believe I'm moaning about small classes !
It is an old school and has always had low numbers at junior level. The senior part has a lot more children. In fact every other year in junior has at least 12 children - curious anomaly in year 3. Really hoping that other girls join her class this year so the social pressure can be diluted a bit.
I will speak to her teacher tomorrow to discuss strategies on getting the girls to gel better but I also recognise you can't force people to get along!
DD does do Brownies so that helps a bit.
Girls -,what a nightmare. DS seems to have a much smoother time of it!
As a teacher, I'd say 5 really isn't enough. Had 13 in my class last year and that really was the bottom limit I think. Are you sure that this school is providing good value for money?
Watching with interest.
Dd is in year one with only 4 in her year ....they are combined with yr 2 though so 12 altogether.
She has made friends with a few boys in the class but the girls are already firm friends.
She seems happy enough but I do worry.
Small classes are lovely but I think you need at least 14.
Have you no alternatives?
Realistically, I think you should expect social difficulties if you want to send her to a school with such small class sizes. Personally, I would find the numbers you've mentioned unacceptable - I'm sure she gets lots of attention from the teacher with regard to the academic side of things, but socially it sounds far too limiting.
I know you like the school, but is there any way you can look around at other options?
I found the small Primary school Ds went to stifling. There were 6 boys and 6 girls. Socially things weren't great, small issues seemed magnified and I could only see this escalating as the dc got older. For this reason I moved him to a much bigger primary and things improved greatly. Much more scope for varied friendships and less intense atmosphere.
At the girls Prep school I attended my year was 9 (reducing to 8) and the year above was 5 which went down to 4! I did find 9 was too small - there were essentially 2 friendship groups and a few girls who were a bit left out. My personal view is that unless the DC are very young (maybe Nursery, Reception, Year 1?) then such a small group would not be a very good idea from a social perspective. I'd imagine that anything below about 13 could be tricky?
I understand that other years have more children, but I too would be worried about the financial viability of the school. Can you see some accounts?
I think that you are right about the intense atmosphere GeneGreenie - it is never a good idea to have the 'big fish in the small pond' and you get the sorts of problems that you wouldn't get if the children were just one of many.
They can't fall out and take in in their stride. In a bigger class they can fall out and just go and play with someone else.
I don't think it is very good academically either- not enough children to bounce ideas off.
Mehitabel, you summed up exactly what was happening at Ds old school perfectly.
We moved schools half way through Y2 and have never looked back. Not easy having to make that choice but so glad we did.
I have seen it happen.
On one occasion there were 2 strong girls and one was the leader and the other had lots of problems because she didn't want to be led. I was so pleased for her when they moved out of the area. Neither would have been leaders in a bigger class.
The other were 2 boys and they simply didn't get on from reception. They were stuck with each other until the end of year 6. There were so few children they had to play together- there were constant problems. In a bigger class they could have had different friends and avoided each other. In a bigger school they could have been in a different class.
Someone mentioned year 5 girls - they are bad enough in a big class with friendship issues- I dread to think how they cope in a small one!
Can you move her OP?
My DS is in a class of 5. I can't move him as we're too remote. There's only one girl in his class though, I feel for her!
Crikey, I can see that small classes may more of a bigger problem than I anticipated
foolishly thought only 5 was perfect.
The dilemma I have about moving her is that she has already been moved once. Approx 2 years ago we moved both her and older DB from state school as they were struggling for differing reasons.
DS will probably leave the school anyway at end of yr 6 to go back into mainstream secondary but I am worried about moving DD again
It can sometimes work out. I was in a class of three myself in junior school and I am still friends with those same people years and years later. But my class had eight by year 1 and 16 by year 5 and the school was girls only.
What age does the school roll usually expand? Year 4, I wouldn't worry. Year 7, I might be a bit concerned.
I should make sure that she does a lot out of school- Brownies, dance etc
So I had a brief chat with DDs teacher this morning who seemed unaware of any issue. However this is not her 'proper' teacher ( been off sick for 3 weeks and not likely to be back soon) so her current teacher obviously won't know them very well. Am hoping that her lack of suggestions on how to help was due to me catching her in the hop rather than not being helpful .
I then spoke with the Head and reiterated my concerns - issues regarding friendships and more fundamentally class sizes. She appeared to listen very carefully and said she would speak with DDs teacher. I was then given a whole pile of PR spin about positive feedback from marketing campaigns and that they are expecting many more children to join over the next 18 months
Even more unsure of what to do now
If they are doing PR campaigns to increase numbers, there is almost certainly an underlying financial issue that they are scared about.
Are accounts published?
Accounts aren't published (far as I know). Should they be freely available if I ask?
Is it a charity, or privately owned? In the latter case, I don't think you can get accounts. If it is a charity, try the Charity Commission website.
I too would be worried about a school that has to market itself. If it doesn't have a good reputation already why would people choose to attend in the future.
Horses for courses but I wouldn't send my children to a school like that. How is it going to be able to attract good teachers. Does anyone aspire to be teaching only 5 children?
I used to teach Y5 in a private school with very small classes, anywhere from 5 to 15 students any given year. The most miserable year I had was the one with the smallest class, with 3 girls who were constantly at war. It's simply not enough variety of pupil to keep things fresh. Think of a small family spending way too much time together on holiday. The cracks do tend to show!
I too have taught in a private school with small class sizes. My smallest was a class of 12 which I found incredibly intense from a teaching point of view and quite suffocating for the children from a social point of view. As a result, I would not consider sending my child to a school with a class size of anything less than 16. As a teacher, a class size of 20 - 22 is fabulous!
If your children's school is in financial difficulty, you may end up with no choice about moving them if it closes suddenly!
I'm not so concerned about the school closing - year on year accounts show it breaks even. My biggest worry is from a social and academic pov with the small classes.
There is a lovely state primary in the area, although a good 25 min drive and DD doesn't know any of the other children. I also don't know at this point if there are any spaces. I have spent the last 2 days looking at other local state schools (visited 2) but sadly I don't feel they are right for DD.
Our only other option is moving to another indy school but again they are further afield.
Or do we sit tight and hope numbers increase in DDs class
Join the discussion
Please login first.