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Mixed year and mixed ability classes, tell me how this works again?

(6 Posts)
alardi Wed 16-Jul-08 18:45:59

Aack, DS finally consigned to a mixed y3-y4 class. All the y4s will be in mixed year classes next year, mostly with Y3s, some with Y5s, not divided by ability (they say, and it mostly seems very true).

In DS's Y3 class, now finishing, there are children who can barely add or read, whereas DS was one of 3 children in top sets for numeracy/literacy/spelling. I think he's working 1-2 years ahead of age, in general. So I could see that teacher HAD to teach to mixed abilities.

But only one of the 'top' children he was with this last year are in his new class. I must be wrong, yet it seems like of the Y4s DS will be with next year, all are more like average ability rather than near top of class. & rest of the class are Y3s (may all be geniuses for all I know, but I don't think so).

I know I sound precious, but I seriously wonder how DS will be that stimulated and challenged next year! He's had such a good year in Y3, I'd hate to see him lose momentum. Please someone tell me you've had a similar experience & how your DC got on?

daffodill6 Wed 16-Jul-08 23:38:20

Had experience of mixed classes with DD when in both yr 3 and yr 4. (ie a mixed yr 3-4 class) For her she was OKish in yr 3 but was definitely not in yr 4. To the extent we removed her from the school.

IMO for her it dented her confidence -- 'Im doing yr 3 work and I'm in yr 4' plus it split her friendship group severely - small classes but only 6-7 girls of a similar age group... at an age when fallouts do happen.

I can see why schools have to do it but i also know many teachers who think its second rate.

DD now at a school with slightly larger class size but 2 groups across a year which can be ability managed better.

alardi Thu 17-Jul-08 18:42:29

Oh dear, that sounds depressing, daffodil.

popsycal Thu 17-Jul-08 18:45:36

The same as a non-mixed age class. Children will be taught according to their abiltiy.

Even in a non-mixed age class you get a huge spread of ability. For example, I had a class of 10 year old this year where 5 had a reading age of under 7 (2 of them under 5) and several children had reading ages in the teens.

AMumInScotland Thu 17-Jul-08 20:36:05

My DS was in mixed classes all through primary, in a small school where all the classes were mixed. So long as the school and teacher are used to it then I wouldn't have any worries - if they are having to do it suddenly without previous experience I might have some concerns, and would want to see that they had thought through how to make it work. But for DS it was absolutely fine - the children worked in ability groups for some things (eg spelling, maths) and all together for others (eg projects). For projects they would all do the same topic, but the teacher would expect more quantity and detail from the oldre ones.

He did fine, and was working to his ability throughout.

alardi Fri 18-Jul-08 17:18:07

I see what you are saying & I know most small village primaries are very mixed (& have good results, generally).
What gets me is my actual experience, I was parent helper for 5 weeks in Y3 maths. The teacher would do his pitch, explaining to kids some process for solving maths problems. For 2/3-3/4 of the class, his talk was just right, and they mostly listened attentively.
For the very bright kids, though, they looked bored, fidgeted, had to wait patiently. They got the idea very quickly, they could have been stretched a lot further.

We just got Ofsted'd & the report says that the more able kids at the school aren't being stretched enough, which is consistent with what I observed.

For the not so able kids, they got bored (& sometimes acted up directly out of the boredom & frustration) because they needed a lot more detail in the explanation.

However, the school does have extra, more focussed sessions for the less able children.

The different ability groups got different worksheets based on how far they could take the basic technique, so that part was okay. But out of 24 kids, 6-8 children weren't best served by being in such a mixed environment.

Our school could make up classes on ability basis, but doesn't because parents would riot. By mixing the years up without even concentrating together the most/least able children even a little (55 Y4 children spread across 5 classes, all mixed years), school is making a lot more work for the teachers (& may not be serving the most/least able best).

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