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How would you split these classes?

(31 Posts)
HouseAnxiety Mon 16-Nov-15 20:44:00


I'm a KS1 Co-ordinator and I need your help :D
We have a 45 pupil intake per year group. In KS1, the children are arranged in a Y1, Y1/2 and Y2 class. At the moment, we are lucky enough to have 4 teachers in the morning so the Y1/2 class get taught separately for maths/english in the mornings. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, this set up will end and we'll be back to 3 classes in Sept.
Our layout is as follows:
Y1: large classroom with access to outdoor area
Y1/2: two smaller classrooms separated by a door, one side set up for play based learning with water tray etc. Role play areas in both.
Y2: Large classroom with role play area.
Our F2 setting is very play based/child initiated and Y1 is seen as the transitional year (very play based for Autumn term).

I would like to ask your opinions on how to split the classes in Sept. Teachers or TAs with experience, what has worked/not worked in your opinion? Parents, how would you feel with the set up? What is your experience as a parent?

There are a few different ideas...
1: 3 x Y1/2 classes - my concerns are delivering a very challenging curriculum with children just out of F2. Also, I don't want the Y1s to miss out on a gentle transition.
2: Stay with Y1, Y1/2 and Y2 classes - classrooms are already set up for this arrangement - but how do we split the children?

My thoughts are to put 15 middle - higher ability children in mixed along with 15 mixed Y2s.

Would you hate this as a parent?

God that was long - sorry!

JasperDamerel Mon 16-Nov-15 21:00:53

The splitting by ability is generally hated by parents.

I'm a parent, and my DC's school has a 45 pupil intake. They have an early years unit with reception and (part-time) preschool together.

At KS1, there are three Y1/2 classes. In KS2, they have three Y3/4 classes, and three Y5/6 classes. The classes are set up to be roughly evenly balanced in terms of age, ability and sex.

I find that this set-up works extremely well. The brighter pupils have a year of being younger, and generally not the best, and the less able ones have a chance to not be at the bottom of the class. Relationships across the year groups are strong. The class teachers work very closely together in each year grouping, so sometimes the children will work in groups across all three classes to work on a particular target.

For the first half term, the year ones and twos were taught separately in the mornings, with play-based provision in the hall for the year ones and for the year twos who might benefit from a bit more unstructured play, and the Year two pupils had more structured lessons.

HouseAnxiety Mon 16-Nov-15 21:31:00

Thanks for your feedback.
I can imagine parents hating splitting by ability.

Do you know how many staff they have?

It is so hard as it works so well at the moment!

admission Mon 16-Nov-15 21:41:14

The only sensible way forward is three classes because anything else will also give rise to problems with admissions to the school. You need 3 classes of 30, which means that any more admissions will be governed by the infant class size regulations.
To some extent the way that the classes is set up is going to depend on the level of difference in ability of your pupils. If you have a wide range then teachers will need to differentiate the work more. That would suggest that having year 1, year 1/2 and year 2 would be best to reduce the spread of abilities to a minimum, rather than 3 classes all year 1/2.

hels71 Mon 16-Nov-15 21:43:45

Both schools I teach in with split ages split by which class would suit each child academically and socially. The parents rarely complain in one, in the other they usually do when the classes are given out then change their minds when they see it actually works for their child...
If you split by solely age, talking the oldest 15 that does not take into account individual children's needs.

Suffolkgirl1 Mon 16-Nov-15 23:03:01

I have experienced both as a parent and have no preference. My DCs school has always had a PAN of 45. When my older DC went through there was one year 1 class, one year 2 class and one mixed year 1/2 class. The mixed class was determined purely on age, which while I accept did not take into account ability, it did mean that there was no argument from the parents, everyone knew that the oldest 15 year 1 and the youngest 15 year 2 made up the mixed class. My youngest is still at the school and the new head has changed to three mixed classes. Again as a parent you know what to expect. When children are selected to be in the mixed class (when the other 2 are single year group) there is always some parents who will take offence to the decision and be extremely vocal in the playground.

JasperDamerel Tue 17-Nov-15 07:50:14

There are the equivalent of 2 full time teachers for the early years unit. Each of the Y1/2 classes has one full time teacher and a part time TA. The teachers work very closely as a team, and there is a lot of flow between the three classes.

Witchend Tue 17-Nov-15 13:02:58

The problem with splitting by ability is firstly what do you do with the child who struggles with say maths, but can read brilliantly. Secondly ime the top end of year 1 will actually be better than the bottom of year 2, which I don't think is brilliant.

I think age is probably the easiest for parents to understand and for teachers to stand firm on. Because you will get complaints.

However you may then split friends which, much as people like to cry that it doesn't matter, it does for some.

Millymollymama Tue 17-Nov-15 16:05:06

I honestly think all classes should be Y1/2. 3 x 30 children. On teacher and one TA per class as a minimum.

I had a very bright August birthday child. In her year, the top achievers in the 11 plus were all summer borns, so they would have been in the mixed class with older Y1s but could have been significantly brighter. This would be more difficult for the teacher to differentiate and would have made me look for another school because this situation is avoidable. It is fair for all if it is a Y1/2 split for all classes. Why should just one class be split? The Y2s in that class will have fewer children to work with. What happens if the Y2 children have widely differing levels of attainment?

By all children being mixed you can juggle who is in which class and therefore who will work on which table, taking Maths and Literacy into account. I agree splitting by ability is also difficult. Surely with the amount of detail schools possess on attainment and progress, mixing children up is no longer so basic as to be done on age?

I would not expect a play based curriculum in Y1 either, even for a term, these days. The curriculum is more demanding now so in your mixed Y1/2 class the Y2 children will be working while the others are playing? Difficult to manage that as well.

HouseAnxiety Tue 17-Nov-15 19:04:51

Well the Y1/2 class is two separate rooms! Which is why it works well having one mixed because you can split them by year group when preparing for SATS.

I'm shocked that play based learning is not considered a necessity for Y1 children. It is sad.

Thanks for all your feedback, I feel really divided.

I think mixed classes work well for y3/4 or 5/6 but I do think that the difference between y1/2 is different.

We have had three mixed y1/2 classes before and results were bad.

This was before my time in KS1 so not sure of exact problems.

HouseAnxiety Tue 17-Nov-15 19:07:04

That was poorly written!!!

HouseAnxiety Tue 17-Nov-15 19:11:33

I feel like even if we end up splitting three classes of y1/2 next year, it will end up streaming children for maths and literacy. Which kind of defeats the point! Although it would satisfy parents as they wouldn't know their children would be put into sets as such.

I agree about the problem of a child being HA in maths but not writing.

Bogburglar99 Tue 17-Nov-15 19:23:37

Another one here whose school has a PAN of 45 and three mixed Y1/2 classes. Teachers work very closely as a key phase and at certain times when they've needed to the kids have been essentially streamed into three classes of mostly Y1, Y1/2, mostly Y2 with the odd ridiculously bright Y1. They also split into phonics groups and the like - but this seems to be much more fluid than selecting 15 kids who are barely out of reception to be in the mixed class on the basis of their current achievement.

The advantages of everyone being mixed to me are:

All teachers working really strongly as a key phase - you don't have three teachers all trying to deliver different things and one drawing the short straw and having the composite class. We get lots of joint planning, mutual support, etc.

Opportunities for flexible streaming and grouping across the phase, depending where kids are at at any particular time and in any particular subject. For SATs I think they have been splitting out the Y2s recently.

If you set it up as in our school, kids stay in the same mixed class with the same teacher for two years. By the time they leave they REALLY know those children!

Same experience for all children in the key phase, rather than one batch of children (and parents) getting something perceived as less good.

I think there are advantages for the Y1s and indeed up the school that perhaps make up for a less gentle introduction. They get thoroughly mothered by any of the Y2s that are that way inclined, for example smile. Also, because we have composites right up the school, kids always have friends in the years above and below which is really nice.

I can't promise results but ours are absolutely fine - I think strong planning as a key phase and really knowing the kids is likely to make up for the challenges of delivering to two year groups. Or something.

Bogburglar99 Tue 17-Nov-15 19:28:43

Cross post. Yes, streaming does happen functionally, but I don't think it defeats the point really. Ours tend to get mixed up for maths and literacy, then back to the 'home class' for topic work. But to me that means they are where they need to be at the time, but with lots of room for movement and adjustment for individual circumstances.

It also has the nice side effect that the kids get confident in working for different teachers with different styles, but still have a strong relationship with their 'home' teacher.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 17-Nov-15 19:39:28

I'd go with 3x y1/2 as well. With as much of a mix of age/gender/sen as possible.

You do need to ensure that the differentiation is done well though to make it work.

JasperDamerel Tue 17-Nov-15 20:07:29

Bogburglar, your system sounds very similar to ours. I really like the system. Our school had the same system when it had 30 pupils per year. It was never a way of dealing with pupil numbers but was a deliberate choice about how the school felt that the children could be taught best. It does require a team of strong teachers who can differentiate well and who can work efficiently with their colleagues, but I hope you have that.

HouseAnxiety Tue 17-Nov-15 20:36:52

I know the parents will cause less fuss with all classes the same. Do you stream for all maths?

HouseAnxiety Tue 17-Nov-15 20:41:48

Do you find it hard not teaching some of your class for maths and lit?

Are there any behavioural issues with lack of consistency?

How much movement is there between streamed classes?

Bogburglar99 Tue 17-Nov-15 21:59:23

I'm a parent not a teacher so hard to answer! Am also a governor though, and I've never heard (to date!) any suggestion of the staff wanting to change.

Behaviour seems Ok - don't have a comparison of course.

8reasonstohide Wed 18-Nov-15 21:42:49

As a teacher, my school has done both; split by age and split by ability. Both have always received negativity from parents.

1. Ability: Parents do not like knowing their child is a Y2 kept back in a Y1/Y2 split class because then everyone knows their child is less able at academics. Also what would you do for children who were able in Maths but less so with reading and writing and vice versa?
2. Age: Pushy parents who have summer borns and are more able than their peers kept with the younger children hate this set-up. They feel little 'Johnny' and 'little Eliza' are being held back and not stretched to their full potential.

A colleague and parent has children who both attended a similar school in which ALL Y1/Y2 children were split into mixed age/ability classes. All parents knew what to expect and no group were singled out or used as a means to split. There wasn't any backlash from parent because everyone was 'treated the same'.

Another suggestion is actually putting it to parents. It can be long winded and fraught with controversy and negativity but parents may be more willing to appreciate the difficulties and accepting of the situation if they were fully involved.

As a parent myself, I am faced with the prospect of my own DS aged 3 nearly 4, being in a mixed age class. He is December born so likely to be youngest of a Y1/YR split class or oldest of a YR class IF split by age or the possibility of the same occurring if split by ability. This year, classes have been split by ability and one or two parents have blown a gasket about it. Personally, I don;t have an issue about whether my PFB is in a Y1/YR class or a YR class, as long as his needs are met and he isn't split from the rest of his friendship group. I don;t expect him to be with them all (there are 9 of them!!!) but I expect him to be with 1 or 2.

My advice would be, if not doing a parent consultation, doing it on broad attainment of the 'Three R's', personal, social and emotional development (some children are 'bright' but still need more play-based learning whereas others are more readily accepting and able to extend to formal learning) and friendship groups. It will take some doing and my colleague spent many months of informal and formal discussions with the YR teachers about how to split the Y1s when we did have split classes.

I think you need to keep it in perspective that there is no perfect answer and you will end up upsetting at least one family!

Millymollymama Thu 19-Nov-15 00:31:27

8reasonstohide. Why is it pushy to think your child should be taught with children of a similar ability? Only in the UK are the parents of bright children described as pushy! How about caring and concerned that their children receive the education they deserve. ? Would you give a similar label to the parents of less bright children who object to their child being "kept back"! Or the parent of an Send child who feels their child discriminated against by being kept down? No. Only parents of bright children are labelled pushy. Every parent wants the best for their child and labels applied by schools to parents will not help.

Wolfie2 Thu 19-Nov-15 00:52:36

We have something similar to option 2 at our school. It works well.

I think the mixed year 1/2 class should involve top ability year 1 plus young in the year year 2's who are ok/good ability wise. This means the younger year 2's will be the older ones in the class for a change. Huge confidence boost for them!

The year 2 class could be a mix of very able kids and lower ability kids. Two clear subgroups which can be supported by TA/teacher. Also lots of mutual peer support

The year 1 class could be middle/lower ability.

Wolfie2 Thu 19-Nov-15 01:02:11

Alternatively spilt them all by age. So eldest 1/3 in one class (all year 2's), middle aged 1/3 kids in 2nd class (year 1/2 mix), youngest 1/3 kids in class 3 (all year 1).

This would mean that the young year twos are with the eldest year 1s - which should be good confidence wise

Witchend Thu 19-Nov-15 14:07:02

DO NOT ask the parents to vote/choose/have a discussion about it.

You will end up with all those who disagree making a huge fuss that they didn't choose that. And they'll probably, if here is anything to go by, accuse you of going with the choice of the parent governors/PTA parents.

You're also setting a dangerous precedent as they will then expect to be consulted on future plans, and similar issues (down to the colour of the new reception carpet if I know some parents!). And if it goes badly with their choice so you do the other way, then you'll have objections that you didn't discuss it with them.

HouseAnxiety Sat 21-Nov-15 08:21:35

Thanks again for more feedback.
Still not sure what is best hmm

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