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Primay schools with 2 school years per class - any experiences?

(32 Posts)
giddly Thu 17-Jul-08 13:56:21

My 2 DDs will be going to the small village school. It has a good OFSTED etc, but I'm just a bit concerned that apart from reception, the other classes all consist of 2 school years (1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6). The classes are usually about 25-30 children and also have a classroom assistant. In particular, I'm concerned that they may not be able to cope with the two extremes (i.e. unconfident children in the younger year who need extra support or bright children in the older year who need challenging).Don't know if I'm worrying unnecessarily about this - can anyone tell me of their experiences of this?

hewlettsdaughter Thu 17-Jul-08 14:08:01

Hi, my ds' school does this. For my ds, it is good when he is with the older ones as he gets challenged more. He is just coming to the end of an academic year where he has been in the older year and I think he has got a bit frustrated. In the same way I guess an unconfident child who needs extra support could well gain confidence from being with younger kids some of the time, but find being with older ones a bit harder. A good teacher will teach according to ability, though.

I was a bit dubious about the two year thing before my ds started at school, but it seems to be working out ok.

BasementBear Thu 17-Jul-08 14:14:16

Had it at my school when I was at Primary, and now my DCs are at a school that does the same. It works really well, the children all learn the same topic, but do slightly different work according to year group. Teachers are able to deal with the high and low achievers equally well.

CantSleepWontSleep Thu 17-Jul-08 14:18:49

We've chosen not to send dd to the otherwise good village schools because (primarily) of this, but are going private instead, so I wouldn't say that you are worrying unnecessarily. How can a 2 year age gap between children in the same class possibly benefit the majority?

Jajas Thu 17-Jul-08 14:18:58

Our school is combined too although not in the first two years so will watch this thread with interest as not sure whether to be concerned or not!

constancereader Thu 17-Jul-08 14:23:39

As a teacher who has taught many mixed classes I can honestly say it is not a problem. In any single year class there is a differentiation of ability that requires careful planning, the same goes for a mixed year. Each whole class teaching session will have differentiated questioning to ensure coverage of all ability ranges, each activity for the children will be targeted at at least three different levels. I often planned for four levels.

It should be fine.

OverMyDeadBody Thu 17-Jul-08 14:29:25

You are worrying unnecessarily giddy, ime mixed classes work really well. Teachers have to differenciate in their planning anyway, every lesson will be divided into ability levels with ability and age appropriate work for the different kids.

I worked in a vertically streamed school when I was a primary teacher. Every class has yr 1, 2 and 3 in it (it was a first school) and I loved it and so did the kids. Yes lots more planning was involved, but it also gave more scope for more variety, and more play!

Tigerschick Thu 17-Jul-08 14:31:00

I think that a good teacher will be able to teach to the ability of the children, mixed age group or not.
Remember that for one year your dc will be in the younger part of the class and for the next year they will be in the older part. So your concerns would only be relevant every other year, if at all, as opposed to every year if they were in a single year group class. (Meaning that, in a single year group class, if they are particularly bright, they will always be at risk of needing more stretching, never having anyone more able than they are in the class, and vice versa. Not sure if that makes sense ...)

IMO, being at a local school that they can walk to, where their friends and neighbours go and that they are comfortable in is more important than mixed age groups.
Also remember lots of larger schools do mixed age groups as well, depending on numbers so, if you do decide against the village school, make sure you check the likelihood of this happening at your next choice.

Bramshott Thu 17-Jul-08 14:32:44

DD1's school does this and it seems to work well. If they are brighter they can be stretched by having the older ones there, and if they struggle they benefit from having the younger ones. There is always a really wide range of abilities within one year even surely?

I prefer that DD1 goes to the local school, and a small school and in smaller schools you always get mixed classes (for a school to have enough children for 1 class per year there need to be at least 200). In my view any downsides are more than made up for by the fact that all the children interract a lot because there are only 100 of them and all the teachers and the headteacher know them really well.

giddly Thu 17-Jul-08 14:35:38

Thanks everyone - that's (mostly) really very reassuring. CSWS - do you mind me asking if your decision was made bacause you felt it wouldn't work in principle, or that particular characteristics of your dd meant that you felt it wouldn't work for her?

paolosgirl Thu 17-Jul-08 14:36:29

I think it can depend on the ability of the teacher. My bf's son goes to a tiny village school, and he's in a P4-P7 class. He's one of the younger ones, but also one of the brightest, so is doing some P6 and P7 work - which is causing no end of resentment amongst some of the older boys who are being quite unpleasant to him. The teacher seems at a bit of a loss as to how to manage the situation tbh.

Piffle Thu 17-Jul-08 14:37:41

our school does this
Reception &yr1
Yr2
3&4
5&6
Dd is in reception and is bright found it very good. But they have full time TA, plus head teacher helps out in all classes 1-2x per week plus 2-3 parents and another part time TA mean all kids needs are catered for fabulously well
Ofsted said in yr3&4 it was not as good though
Next yr due to bigger reception intake yr1(dd) and yr2 are going up to next class together total class number only 22 but the same kids remain together which is nice.
Reception kids who struggle can remain in reception if needed butnone have this year.

CantSleepWontSleep Thu 17-Jul-08 14:53:41

giddy - in principle really, although dd has already shown herself to be quite bright for her age (nursery school have been very impressed by her in the term that she's been there), so it would be more of a concern that she would be held back when in the older class.

No school is within walking distance for us though (we are between 2 villages), so that negates some of the benefits of a village school. We also like the additional facilities (eg swimming pool) that the school we have chosen offers, and dh decreed that we were going private and didn't care if it made him a snob wink.

giddly Thu 17-Jul-08 15:02:06

Thanks CSWS

welshdeb Thu 17-Jul-08 15:10:11

unfortunately more and more schools are doing this due to falling numbers and the school budgets being unable to support teachers' salaries on the numbers in school. Obviuosly you wouldn't see it in a bigger school but its a trade off as smaller schools have other advantages. So its a trade off.

Many parents worry about it however a teacher should be able to teach across a mixed age group by differentiating the work given to the children. Its not much different to teaching a single age group with mixed abilities.

The only issue I would ben unhappy about would be if there was a mix across the key stage classes ie mixed year 2 and 3.

On a personal viewpoint my ds is just about to leave primary and he has been in mixed classes all through juniors. As he is born at the end of April he has always been in the "younger group" but this has not done him any harm. He has done very well and has got all level 5.

haggisaggis Thu 17-Jul-08 15:22:46

My 2 (ds 8 and dd 5) attend a small village primary with only 2 classes - so of course they have to be taught in mixed year classes.
In fact, in the past school year they were both taught in the same class (P1-P4 combined) although ds is quite pleased that come August he'll go up to the "big ones" class (p5 - P7)
I have no problems with it. The teachers are used to dealing with mixed ability classes and children are usually split into groups for teaching anyway. For topic work, there will be one general theme but it is dealt with in a slightly different way by each age group.

Lilymaid Thu 17-Jul-08 15:42:11

My DSs went to four primary schools between them, all but one ran mixed age classes except for Reception. The children were then subdivided into three sets so that DS1 (v bright) was always in "top set" whereas DS2 (average) would be in "middle set" when he was in the younger of the two year groups and "top set" when he was in the older year group. This method never bothered us even though DS2 is an August born child and I am always surprised when I hear of schools where this is not done.

Bridie3 Thu 17-Jul-08 15:49:47

My children have been taught in mixed year classes. Tends to be better in the years when they're with older children, as both are bright and tend to coast if they think they can get away with it. But both have done well and it wouldn't be an issue for me if I had a third child about to start school.

LadySnotAlot Thu 17-Jul-08 16:06:08

I was always in mixed year classes right the way through my primary education and loved it. Admittedly I was probably one of the youngest in the whole class but it meant that I had to do what the others did or lose out.

Socially it was a much better mix as the younger children tended to take the lead from the older children.

Hanleyhigh Thu 17-Jul-08 16:27:10

My daughter has just finished in a mixed year 1 & 2 class - she has loved it and done really, really well.

I was taught in mixed classes myself.

My mum taught for 30 years and for 25 of thise only ever taught mixed groups, either years 3 and 4 or 5 and 6.

There is nothing at all to worry about!

AMumInScotland Thu 17-Jul-08 20:38:43

I've just posted on the other mixed class thread, but I'll be lzy and cop&paste the same thing here grin

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.

Fennel Thu 17-Jul-08 21:03:57

My dc age 8 and 6 are in their 3rd primary, it's a small village school with 2 years per class. Initially this was my main issue against the school (we moved into the village) but actually it's been fine. The children are set for ability, the quickest few often go up to classes above for lessons.

And there are pluses to a little village school. Ours is very friendly, the children make friends across the age groups, they know everyone around and there's a strong communal feel. More so than in our previous schools with 30 or 60 in a year. The other bigger schools did have some advantages - bigger grounds, more facilities - but the village school is better in other ways. It's been swings and roundabouts for us really. I'm not a particular fan of small schools over big ones but our experience of it has been good, better than I'd have expeected. And nothing beats walking round the corner to school and having lots of friends all over the local area.

hewlettsdaughter Thu 17-Jul-08 21:19:22

The school my ds goes to has mixed year groups because the intake is 45 per year - putting two year groups together makes 90, ie 3 classes.

unknownrebelbang Thu 17-Jul-08 21:23:22

My three - differing abilities - have been through a primary with this setup, and all three have generally had a good education there.

My only issue over the years has been that DS2 and DS3 are only one year apart and so in alternate years they are in the same class, and DS3 is stronger academically that DS2, and it's more obvious when they're in the same class.

This caused a bit of an issue for DS2 in yr4, but not so much this time round (about to leave yr6).

Fennel Thu 17-Jul-08 21:36:17

Oh, unknownrebelbang, this is a problem we are about to encounter. dd1 and dd2 will be in the same class next year (they were in the same reception unit aged 4 and 3 in another school) and dd2 is better academically than dd1. I am rather concerned about it. but I didn't mention it in my earlier post as I assumed the OP wasn't in that situation.

how have yours coped? I am a bit worried that dd1 is going to notice and mind that her little sister is ahead of her in some ways. or at least at the same level. dd2 is also bigger, taller, louder and more confident.

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