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Would this concern you?

(19 Posts)
Readytomakechanges Tue 27-Jun-17 20:42:18

DD's school has just released the classes for September via a letter.

The school changed from a 30 student intake to a 45 student intake in reception a few years ago and the first set of 45 students is going into year 3 in September.

This year, in reception, there were 45 children in one large classroom with two classes who have separate carpets and teachers. There were 2 permanent TAs.

There was a year one class of 30, a year two class of 30 and a year one/two composite class. Years three-six still had whole year groups of 30 children.

We have been told that, come September, 30 children currently in reception will move to a purely year one class. 15 will remain in the current reception classroom with the next reception intake, split between the two classes so 8 year 1s in one class with 22 new reception kids and 7 year 1s in the other class with 23 new reception kids. All in the same classroom.

They will have the same number of teachers and resources as this year, but 15 more kids following a different curriculum.

Am I right to be concerned about this?

The head teacher has now stated that the year ones will have a small separate classroom to do year one work in, but it's not possible to evidence how their days will be spent in percentages. In terms of future planning for later years (as well as my current DD, I have a younger DD so keen to know their plans for the future) they're not "able" to plan. It will all be re-looked at again in spring next yr.

If you've read this far, Thank you! Any advice on questions I should ask school. Would you be worried?

Sirzy Tue 27-Jun-17 20:47:37

Composite classes are pretty common so it wouldn't bother me too much.

Ds school is a 45 intake school. Until a few years back they had the same open plan reception/year 1 set up with half the year 1s being split between the two classes. They where taught seperatly for the mornings doing maths/English and then all together in the afternoons. The other half of the year 1s where in y1/2 mixed class and again year 1s split seperatly for mornings.

Works well and the children all seem happy.

TweeBee Tue 27-Jun-17 20:48:49

I'm not a teacher or anything but do have a DD in year 1. She wasn't very keen on writing and sitting down in f2 and really found it hard to do more of that in year 1, though she has come on so well since not having the choice to do other things.
So, I don't think she would have coped very well in a joint class. How would they manage to get the year 1 children not to do so much learning through play? I wonder if they will end up with more homework?
Personally I don't think it would be a bad thing to continue with more play based learning in year 1, but it seems that the curriculum discourages this. Our teachers say that they do as much as they can but struggle to fit in what they need to teach.
I'm not sure what the school could do about it though really.
Will be interested to see what others say. Sorry am not much help.

Finola1step Tue 27-Jun-17 20:53:42

I taught for many years in a school with a 45 intake. We did the following...45 Reception split between 2 classes. Then a straight Year 1, mixed Years 1 and 2, and a straight Year 2 class. This model was then followed through Years 3 and 4, then 5 and 6. The class groups were mixed up each year to accommodate this. The Reception children got a great start in smaller classes.

I would be concerned about the school's proposal to have a group of Year 1s in with the Reception children as the needs of new Reception starters can be very, very different to the needs of Year 1 children. Also, what is happening in Year 2 next year?

Either they are cutting back on a teacher or they are very worried about their KS1 data - so are next year's Year 2s in small classes of 22 and 23?

Readytomakechanges Tue 27-Jun-17 20:58:49

It's not really the fact that there will be a composite class that is worrying me.

We were expecting 15 year ones to be in a composite with the year twos. (This was implied by teachers at the beginning of the year).

It's more that they have the same resources and teachers as this year, but now more kids and the year one curriculum to teach.

I'm finding it hard to believe that the 15 year ones in the reception/year one class will not be disadvantaged compared to the 30 in the purely year one class - where they have 30 kids in one classroom (so less chaotic than 60 in one) and only have one curriculum to teach. Or that the new reception intake will not be disadvantaged compared to the current reception class that had the same number of teachers/TAs, less kids in the class and the teacher didn't have to set aside extra time from the reception kids to teach the year ones.

dairymilkmonster Tue 27-Jun-17 21:00:37

I would not be happy with this set up. FIrstly, I think the whole enormous classroom thing is not great, more of a fan of smaller classes with the teachers knowing individual kids well. THe very busy noisy environments don't suit the more reserved kids well.

Generally I am not keen on composite classes either, curriculum is age/ year group based, so as far as I can see you are asking a teacher to do significantly more than you would be with one year, which can only mean they have less time to actually help the children. I do appreciate they have been used over a long period with plenty being satisfied. YOur particular situation sounds the worst of all options, not a proper composite class, but a few extra bodies left behind! THe least able? Or the most able (who can be given work and ignored whilst the teacher does EYFS stuff?) ? SUrely the yr 1 expectations are very different to reception....?

I would be kicking up a major stink about this. GOod luck.

MrsHathaway Tue 27-Jun-17 21:03:30

Maybe the fifteen in question have really struggled with phonics and will benefit from going over the basics again before attempting the phonics screening next summer.

I don't know. I think it would depend so much on the cohort in question and my child's abilities within it that I can't say in the abstract how I'd feel. I wouldn't be happy with an able child being obliged to stay down by virtue of being one of the youngest, for example.

Readytomakechanges Tue 27-Jun-17 21:06:25

Come September there'll be:

Class A = 23 reception kids, 7 year ones
Class B = 22 reception kids, 8 year ones
A & B in the same classroom.
Class C = 30 year ones
Class D = 30 year twos
Class E = 15 year twos, 15 year threes.
Class F = 30 year threes
Class G = 30 year fours
Class H = 30 year fives
Class I = 30 year sixes.

My guess is that eventually they'll plan for a similar set up to that which you describe finola as the reception classroom seems to have been purpose built to hold 45 kids - number of pegs/draws/space on the carpets.

Readytomakechanges Tue 27-Jun-17 21:11:20

The school won't specify what they factored in when choosing which kids went where, just that many factors were considered.

There seems to be a bit of a mix of ages, but mainly younger ones kept in the large classroom.

user1497480444 Tue 27-Jun-17 21:11:49

I would assume they have based their planned cohorts on their assessments of the needs of the children.

grasspigeons Tue 27-Jun-17 21:15:17

My children have done mixed year groups which are fine (all year X and y mixed up and taught together)

They've also done something more similar to your set up with some year 1 alone and some with reception and some year 2 s with year 1 and some on their own. and it didn't work as well as basically the teaching was more geared to the larger group and there was a detain amount of self esteem damage done to those that did reception twice in their peers eyes.

Finola1step Tue 27-Jun-17 22:12:09

Ah so in fairness to the school, they are managing a mixture of 30 and 45 year groups until the oldest 45 cohort hit Year 6. Really tough for all involved especially as they won't have the money to employ an extra teacher. Not sure if there is anything you can do.

admission Tue 27-Jun-17 22:27:25

I think that what the school are doing is the only logical way forward with this set of numbers at the present. In effect they will need in moving from 30 PAN to 45 PAN to have 4 extra classrooms eventually and for me the bigger issue is whether they already have the classrooms or whether this is going to be an on-going issue for the school. It sounds like it is going to be an issue which will come to a head in 12 months time when another 15 extra pupils need to be accommodated and that the school are doing the only logical thing that they can do if they have no other available classrooms at present.
Not totally convinced about splitting the 15 year 1 between the two reception classes. There is a different syllabus for year 1 than reception. so that would concern me as to how they will be taught.

lougle Tue 27-Jun-17 22:50:02

My DDs go to a small school which has composite classes. They have a Yr R/Yr1 class, a Yr1/Yr2 class, a Yr3/Yr4 class and a Yr5/Yr6 class.

They split the Yr1s according to a mixture of factors around age/stage/confidence/readiness to progress to more formal learning and I'm sure many other things!

What it does mean is that for some children they may go through classes 1-2-2-3-3-4-4, and others may go through classes 1-1-2-3-3-4-4.

Readytomakechanges Wed 28-Jun-17 07:52:19

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences so far.

I agree that there's not much the school will be able to do at this point and unfortunately my DCs have been caught up in a transition period.

There is another good local school that I could have sent the DCs to. It has a space for year one in September.

One of the things that tipped me towards choosing the current school instead was due to having 45 instead of 60 in the reception classroom. However the other school only has reception children and has three teachers/TAs/carpets.

I'm trying to weigh up whether this current set up in DD's school is enough to consider moving her to the other school or whether it isn't worth the disruption.

Helenluvsrob Wed 28-Jun-17 08:03:46

Dunno. Composite classes are interesting. This set up would benefit year 1s who are still struggling to be ready for the sit down and teach attitude of year 1-2. They still get a belly full of formal learning in the morning but maybe a bit more afternoon freedom.

Many of the year 1 are still very young. Either actually or re maturity. Scans school don't start till 7 with formal learning and they do as well/ better.

Would I want it for mine ? Probably not but they are strong academic learners fitted ( or moulded ?) into the traditional system. They were educated before play based curriculum was a thing. Academics is what they do. For my imaginary grandkids ? Maybe.

Readytomakechanges Wed 28-Jun-17 18:38:05

I'm also feeling a little annoyed that this wasn't mentioned as a possibility last year when I was making the decision about which school to choose.

I understand that they can't know for definate how they're going to arrange the classes, but they must have an idea of the possiblities.

Froggybedlegs Wed 28-Jun-17 19:55:25

I wonder if this has been done based on the needs of the current Reception class?
Ie 15 children are really not ready for a more formal year one curriculum so this is a way of introducing it more gradually.... Plenty of learning through play with short sessions in their own room. They would then build up the amount of time these sessions last until the children are ready to access a year 1 curriculum?
If this is the case it seems like a sensible way of accommodating the needs of all of the children.
Is your dd in the group of 15?

Coconut0il Wed 28-Jun-17 21:57:01

I wouldn't move my DS in that situation if he was happy and settled. I might ask for further explanation on how they decided which children to put with R but probably not.
Teachers have to provide so much data/evidence that all children are progressing that they will be planning for that regardless of if it is mixed R/1 or 1/2.

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