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Split age classes in KS1?

(42 Posts)
MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 12:54:07

DS1's school are likely to have split age classes in KS1 from September (specifically years 1 & 2). Is this still a fairly common thing? I know it was when I was at primary school but didn't think it was so much now.

If you're a teacher, how do you feel it impacts on the children's education and social development (if at all)? How are the children taught at different levels in the same class? How does it work with SATS?

If you're a parent whose child is or has been in a split age class at KS1, how did you feel it impacted your child's education and social development? Was it good for your child or not?

Am really keen to understand how it will all work in practice and what the likely implications will be for the children. School says smaller class sizes will be a huge benefit, but I would think they would be aiming to fill the places up as quickly as possible so can't see that as being a long term benefit. Am mostly concerned that DS1 is a bit immature for his age and that putting him in a class with younger ones isn't really going to help that!

GuestWW Thu 08-Jun-17 12:56:42

Our school has R&Y1 together, then 2&3 and then 4,5&6. This is far less about the mixed ages than the teaching ability. Our classes have one teacher and at least one TA. It seems to work very well.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 14:14:32

Do you mean e.g.

R + some of Y1; rest of y1 + Y2 OR

R; Y1 + Y2?

I think there is a huge difference between mixed age classes where the whole year group has the same experience, and mixed age classes where half of the year group is mixed with older children, and half with younger.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 14:16:19

FWIW - for me, mixed age classes are not a major issue with a decent teacher.

Ones where a single year group is split so that different children of the same age are in very different classes with very different experiences are a significantly greater issue.

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 14:19:38

I think R; Y1 + Y2.

There's currently one full Y1 class and two half full Class R's. In September there will be one Class R which won't be mixed, but Y1 & Y2 will be split into 3 separate mixed classes. Not sure whether will be divided at random or based on ability.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 15:08:07


I think it matters a LOT in this case whether there is:
1 Year 1 class
1 Year 2 class and
1 mixed class (which would be perhaps the most common model, but has distinct disadvantages) or

3 parallel Y1/Y2 classes.
if it is the latter, particularly if all are mixed ability, then the 3 classes can plan together and share planning to ensure that all the Y1s get the same experience and all the Y2s get the same experience. There may be some occasions in the lead up to SATs where collecting all Y2s together and Year 1s together (with 2 classes of whichever is the bigger number) for a few lessons may be sensible, but the fully parallel version has many more advantages for the year groups as a whole than the '2 separate, 1 split' model, where the children in the split class do not quite get the same experience as the children in the separate classes.

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 15:44:34

As I understand it there will be 3 classes, each with around ten Y2 children and twelve or so Y1 children, so all will be mixed classes.

dementedma Thu 08-Jun-17 15:49:26

my dcs very often were in composite classes. I don't think they work well from anyone's point of view, but exist because of lack of space and lack of teachers.
youngest dc has just gone into 5th year (Scotland), and one of his classes in now mixed 4th, 5th and 6th years all in together due to lack of resources. Its a mess.

Trb17 Thu 08-Jun-17 15:53:43

DD was in a mixed Y1/2 class when she was in year 1. She thrived in it despite enduring much teacher disruption that year (not linked). She is bright so it suited her to be in with older kids too.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 15:53:45

Honestly, that should be fine if all the teachers are good and the ability mix is well-balanced

Having three parallel classes gives them the flexibility to shift organisation around for occasional specific lessons or occasions - could do e.g. cross-class phonics groups, or 1 Y2 class for a short while in the run-up to SATs.

it is a little more difficult than running single year group classes, especially in this era when the curriculum is so 'year group based'. However, the actual ability spread even of a single year group class can be multiple 'year equivalents' (so e.g. a Y2 cl;ass can have children who have abilities / skills typical of a 3 or 4 year old all the way up to those who have abilities / skills typical of a 9 year old), and the addition of a further year group doesn't make as much difference as you think. Having the two year groups so well balanced is also good, as in e.g. a 20 Y2 / 10 Y1 type arrangement, the minority group can often feel somewhat 'left out'.

it is worth asking whether the school intends to treat them as 'mixed classes' - ie mixed year seating and grouping - or whether they might be tempted to go down the 'Y1 sit over there, Y2 over there', 2 separate lessons format. the former is better, but if the school isn't used to running mixed classes, they might be tempted to try the latter, and it's not great....

ginsparkles Thu 08-Jun-17 15:58:53

My daughter is in a split class. Younger year ones and reception, then older year ones and year two.

It's worked really well through reception and I'm confident as she moves into year 1 it will too. She will stay down with reception as she's a summer baby. Everyone I have spoken to whose children have been through this school, have said that it's really benefitted their summer born child being able to have an extra year in the reception type setting.

I had reservations because of her now being split from her friends, but they do lots of things with all the year ones together, the also do visits with both classes (all 3 years) together too. It doesn't seem to have been a problem for those year 1 children currently in my daughters class.

All that said it does depend on how the classes are split. We decided not to apply to a school that had 3 year groups to one class as we felt this was too vast a difference in ability and curriculum to work well for any child.

DandelionAndBedrock Thu 08-Jun-17 16:06:38

Honestly? As a teacher I think having a KS1 split class made me much more aware of how to keep the learning fun - it is easy (sadly) for Y2 to become quite dull and to lose some of the magic of learning if you have data looming over you. Having to include activities that will engage Y1 children (especially at the start of the year) means you have to be a bit more creative, and I don't think that is a bad thing. The Y1 children, in my experience, try to up their game to be more like the Y2 children so they benefit lots. I miss working in a school with split classes!

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 16:13:09

Thanks for your replies, it's much appreciated.

Demented I think this is what I'm worried about. The school hasn't done it before, so I'm worried it'll end up a mess.

Trb17 DS will be a year 2, birthday mid-year and I would say mid-level in class too (although we get next to no feedback at all) so although I can see how the younger ones benefit, I'm not entirely sure how it will benefit the older ones.

Can't thank you, that's really helpful. There will be an info evening for parents soon, so I have written down the question you suggested about mixed seating/grouping as it will be interesting to know what they say. They haven't recruited some of the teachers yet hmm

Gin they don't really mix at all at the moment - the two class r's do, but years one and two are separate from that and separate from each other with little interaction.

I think my main concerns are how it will affect DS being separated from friends - they've been in the same class for two years and are just about starting to form more solid friendship groups and to settle as a class too. It seems such a shame to disrupt it all.

Also whether, if there are more Y1s whether the lessons etc will be pitched more at their level so the older ones are held back a bit (although I appreciate what can't says about abilities)?

Also how it will affect DS's maturity. He's quite immature for his age and I worry that being in a class with younger ones will not help this!

Also concerned that when they move to Y3 they will have to be mixed again as I assume they can't mix KS1 and KS2?

On the other hand, they'll be in classes of 22 or so, rather than 30 so in theory they should get more attention from teachers etc? Or will that tend to be more focused on the younger ones?!

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 16:14:06

Dandelion thanks, that's really helpful. How do you feel it benefited the year 2s if you don't mind me asking?

DandelionAndBedrock Thu 08-Jun-17 16:18:49

In my experience, it was easier to stretch/challenge them because for any children who were struggling, I generally had the same task pitched slightly differently for the Y1 children (so they could be supported that way). For the children who were more able, because I had the Y1 scaffolds in place to support the children who found work harder, I had more time to support them in open ended investigations. Actually, I did a lot of open ended investigation work because I found it easier to differentiate. All good teachers have support/differentiated work, but you have to be more on the ball with a split class. Also, the Y2 children really liked the sense of responsibility - mine had reading partners (Y1/Y2) and it really helped the children develop confident, fluent reading aloud because they wanted to "look after" the younger children.

Also, as a teacher, I would bite someone's hand off if there was a chance of a class of 22 children not 30. They'll still have playtimes with the other classes so they won't be apart forever!

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 16:25:32

Thanks dandelion. I do hope they try to encourage the Y2s to "look after" the Y1s, at least at the start of the year. I am conscious that having a class of 22 is a very rare thing and should not be sniffed at!

I'm starting to think that the benefits of being in a class of 22 will far outweigh any negatives of it being a split age class. However, if there's a sudden influx of children which pushes the class size up near 30, I think I'd be less pleased about it all. This is a possibility as the place where the school is situated is currently having about 750 houses built so it's quite possible that pupil numbers could increase rapidly as those houses are sold off and people move in.

ginsparkles Thu 08-Jun-17 16:36:48

The being apart from the friends was the main thing that worried me as my daughter is the only one of her friendship group not going up, but they all still play together and have lunch together.

I ask her if she plays with the year 1 children at lunch now, and she says they play with the other year 1's so it doesn't seem to be an issue. That said we are a very small school, so that may help.

ginsparkles Thu 08-Jun-17 16:38:48

And I agree with dandelion about the helping the younger children. This happens at our school. It seems to work well.

mrz Thu 08-Jun-17 16:42:07

*"*^*As I understand it there will be 3 classes, each with around ten Y2 children and twelve or so Y1 children, so all will be mixed classes.*^*"* Less common to choose to do this when they could have 1 year 1 class and 1year 2 class which would be cheaper and allow the teacher to follow the year expectations.
In my experience mixed age classes more common in small schools .

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 17:05:26


With ICS, they couldn't have 1 class of each, as there are 36 Y1s and 30 Year 2s.

So they could either have chosen

2x Y1 classes of 18
1x Y2 class of 30 (essentially moving their current arrangement up 1 year)

or 3 classes of 22, either
- 1 x 22 Y1
- 1x 22 Y2
- 1 x 8 Y2 + 14 Y1

or, as the school proposes
- 3 classes each of 10 Y2 and 12 Y1

If they have a Reception class of 30, but have 4 classrooms available for EYFS / KS1, then those are basically their only ways of proceeding, unless you go up int a mixed KS1/2 class if the Y3 numbers allow:
1x 30 Year R
1 x 30 Y1
1 x 6 Y1 + 24 Y2
1 x 6 Y2 + rest of the class made up of Y3

That WOULD be cheaper, but cross KS mixed classes are not great, and it may well be that the Y3 class is at 30 or a multiple of 30.

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 17:26:34

Can't, Y3 class is at 30 but class R only has 23 coming in so I think they're trying to make class R to Y2 as equal as possible with class sizes, (4 classes of 22 or 23 each, rather than a 23, 19, 19 and 30) although class R won't be mixed. It's all very confusing, I don't envy them trying to sort it all out, as lots of people are going to be unhappy. People generally don't like change!

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 17:47:03

Ah, OK, so they could save a whole class teacher's worth of money by keeping 6 of the Y1s with Reception, and having the remainder of Y1 and Y2 as two separate single year classes. The school is being very lavish in still going for 4 classes in this time of school budget austerity.

mrz Thu 08-Jun-17 17:50:04

I'm wondering how they ended up with an intake of 36 in Y1

mrz Thu 08-Jun-17 17:52:30

With 23 in reception they could have 23R+ 6 Y1 /30Y1 /30Y2 save a great deal of money in these cash starved times

MillieMoodle Thu 08-Jun-17 18:25:27

Sorry if any confusion - there are currently 38 in reception, 2 classes.

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