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Mixed age classes vs larger class sizes?

(9 Posts)
Fezzy Thu 06-Oct-16 19:01:22


I was wondering if any of you could help, I know this subject has been raised before but I am still confuse.

My daughter starts primary school in august 17, we have 2 choices of very good schools, one where each year (P1-7 we're in scotland) has one class per year with a maximum class size of 25. The other is a much smaller school and only has 3 classes, P1-3 4-5 and 6-7 even though the ages are mixed to class size is only aroun 15.

We are stuck as to where to send her, my daughter seems to be very intelligent (she gets it from me) however can be extremely shy.

Does anyone have experiences of mixing class ages? Would they recommend it? Does the smaller class size out way the problems that teaching multiple age groups entails? Are single aged classes better?

Your help is greatly appreciated.

BellaGoth Thu 06-Oct-16 19:04:09

I went to a school with mixed ages, exactly the same split as the one you describe. It worked really well. The teachers were very experienced in making sure each child had work / activities that suited their needs. It was much more fluid. We also got to know lots of the children as the older ones moved up a class and younger ones joined.

Ferguson Thu 06-Oct-16 19:18:34

Provided the teachers are 'good' and well organised, there may be advantages in mixed year-groups.

I was a TA in a mixed Reception/Yr1/Yr2 class. The brightest younger children could often learn alongside older children, while the less able older children could reinforce their learning with younger ones.

All children were busy, involved, and supportive of one another, and it being a small school there was a good 'family' atmosphere.

bojorojo Fri 07-Oct-16 00:49:22

The new curriculum (in England?) means children must only be taught the curriculum for their own age group, not that of the year above. The small school you are describing, OP appears to have only 45 children in total, so do you value sporting teams, music and a breadth of possible friends? There will only be about 7-8 children doing the same curriculum work as her and they may have a very broad range of abilities.

I think tiny schools can be very limiting from age 8 onwards. What happens if children fall out or best friend moves away? . On that basis alone, I would look at the larger school.

prettybird Sat 08-Oct-16 10:08:46

Teachers are normally experienced in composite classes. Even in larger schools, you may well have composite classes to balance numbers (eg at ds' primary, when he started, there was a P1 and a P1/2 class and throughout his time each year they had to juggle the classes as the school was at capacity).

Classes broke down into smaller groups for number and language time anyway, so would work across the year groups/classes.

Choose the school which you think "feels" best; don't worry about the size - and certainly don't see working across the age groups as a "problem". Which one do you think would be most nurturing for your dd?

museumum Sat 08-Oct-16 10:14:47

I have experience of a really small school but it was in a village and the core of the community - everyone in the village went or had gone there and all the parents ones each other, the alternative was going away to private school and missing out on a big part of village life.

I think in your circumstances it depends how you come to have this choice. Are you isolated but equidistant between a village and a town? In which case I'd chose based on where you want your children to "belong". If it's catholic vs Non-catholic then I'd chose based on how important Catholicism and the church is to you.

prettybird Sat 08-Oct-16 10:17:09

Posted too soon. I'd have also thought that if the smaller school is good, the teachers will have adapted the Curriculum for Excellence to ensure that it works with composite classes. That's where its flexibility and learning "across" the subjects works (especially in primary school).

britnay Sun 09-Oct-16 18:56:27

My eldest has just started reception at a small village school (less than 60 pupils altogether), where he also went for nursery. Its a fantastic little school and the mixed age groups mean that they are a bit more flexible in terms of working to abilities. For example, my son is better at reading than the other children in reception, so he does phonics classes with the year one children.
At first break the younger children play in their playground and older children in the other one, but they all play together at lunch time. All the older children are so lovely with the little ones. There is a lovely feeling of community.

bigchangesabound Sun 09-Oct-16 19:09:29

Composite classes can be fairly common in Scotland (or at least more so than in England I think). When I did my PGDE quite a few years ago all my placements were composite classes. One school was a small island school split like you have mentioned and the other a much bigger school.
Benefits are if your chill is bright like you say they are, they will certainly be pushed. I'm my p5/6/7 class I had a maths group of one from each and they egged each other along and there was some competition there- the p5er wanted to be as good as the p7 and the p7 didn't want the p5 to beat them! All in good fun though. Small schools also have a really good feel. Everyone knows each other, are brought up together. You don't really get the fallings out others have described and there is generally less behaviour problems (generally!) it's a bit like a family.
Also I remember a few days when the weather was nice (in Scotland so a very rare occurrence) the playground supervisor would pop their head in half way through lunch- "shall we give them an extra 10 minutes!" I always thought that was quite nice.

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