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School mixing up all the classes - DS not with any friends - advice please!

(25 Posts)
eemum Fri 03-Jul-09 10:50:30

Hi, hoping some mums who have experienced this can advise.

My son will go into Y4 in Sept. For the first time ever, his school have decided they will mix up all the classes (there are 2 classes in each yr). He has been with the same group of friends since reception.

I understand that this is fairly common practice in lots of schools and am totally supportive of the wider aims of what the school is trying to achieve - we have an imbalance of boys/girls in some years & some behaviour issues that might be resolved by separating, also probably healthy to allow new relationships to develop etc.

However, they committed that existing relationships would be taken into account to ensure children were not isolated from key friendships. And this is where it has all gone wrong, my son has not been placed with ANY of his friends & talking to other mums he appears to be the only boy in this scenario. He is gutted & cried his eyes out in class when the list was announced yesterday, his teachers response was totally unsympathetic and when I spoke to her last night she gave me short shrift & suggested I reflect on things before making an issue of it. I should add that he is well behaved and in top ability groups for everything, so there is no apparent reason to separate him from anyone.
Time is tight as I can only get to school Thurs & Fri and transition day (when they all go spend the day with their new teacher) is next Friday.

I'm sensing that particularly with this being the 1st time they've tried to do this, the school will be very keen not to give in to parental requests to change the classes.

Has anyone got experience of a similar scenario and how did it work out? Or any teachers who can advise whether after publishing lists, there is likely to be any room for manouvre?

Thanks in advance!

aideesmum Fri 03-Jul-09 10:55:47

No experience but talk to the head teacher about your concerns. I would very unhappy if this happened to my ds.

ingles2 Fri 03-Jul-09 11:00:51

Make an appointment to see the head Eemum and ask them to explain their reasoning....
We have this system in our school and there are parents who are unhappy for similar reasons this year.
The head has refused all changes (which is probably what will happen in your case)
but has been able to explain why they don't seem to be with their friends.
It could me they are trying to balance sexes, abilities, place a child in a class where there is a HLTA etc,... but I am surprised they haven't managed to place him with a single friend.

cory Fri 03-Jul-09 11:03:12

They do it all the time in my dcs school; only time existing friendships is taken into account is at the move from infants (severeral different schools) into this large junior school.

Personally, I think it's a silly rule, but tbh it has had relatively little impact on my dcs life- they still get together at breaktime and because of setting they are not working with their own classmates all the time anyway. They haven't lost any friendships over this.

mollyroger Fri 03-Jul-09 11:04:16

This has happened to my ds twice. since reception. He made new friends. And still retained the old ones. Don 't fret, will be ok.

annh Fri 03-Jul-09 11:26:06

Our school is a one and a half form entry so each year the classes are mixed up and once the classes are set that't IT - you can beg and plead as much as you want, but they aren't going to be changed. However, each child writes three names on a piece of paper before and they are guaranteed to be placed in a class with one of those children - often ends up being two or even all three of them.

In your case, I would go and speak to the HT because this is the first year that they have mixed classes so it will be more unsettling for the children. Also, the children don't seem to have had any input at all into the process which won't help them to feel happy.

FranSanDisco Fri 03-Jul-09 12:18:15

My ds's school do this in infants and he was the only boy separated from his friends. His teacher told me he would benefit from this hmm as he would work harder. The end result is he has made new friends who were just as 'silly' as his old ones, in addition to still playing with the first 'silly' group at break times. He is, despite all this, achieving above average which lead to his new teacher suggesting if he stopped being a clown he would be a genius grin. I really do feel for your ds being separated in Yr 4.

smee Fri 03-Jul-09 12:19:07

eemum, are you sure he's got it right - ie have you seen the list?

springlamb Fri 03-Jul-09 12:36:10

DD goes to Yr3 in Sept, her transition meeting is next Tues.
I am hoping this will happen in her case. The children in the other class are much more fun that those she's with at the moment.

smee Fri 03-Jul-09 12:41:41

We're waiting too - I'm wishing DS isn't put with his current best mate, as he's lovely but quite disruptive. If they're in different classes DS'll be upset, but I'll be delighted grin

choccyp1g Fri 03-Jul-09 13:19:36

I wish they'd do this to my son. His class seems to have all the trouble makers in it. Especially DS. At least the teacher might get a few weeks of peace before he contaminated the other class as well.

mankyscotslass Fri 03-Jul-09 13:28:26

We are waiting to hear too. They mix them up for YR3 if there is a class imbalance, and we have been told that this year there is.

The children have been asked to write down the names of two children they want to stay with, and one they don't. hmm

I just hope my DS as happy in his class next year as he has been the last 3.

listenglisten Fri 03-Jul-09 13:32:59

They do this in my dc's school and ds is currently in year 3. Each child was asked to write down the names of two people they would like to be in the class with and they were guaranteed one of those friends.

Seems to have worked out OK and like othrs have said, the two classes seem to mix anyway and he still meets up with his other friends at lunchtime etc and they swap around for different subjects.

Are you sure he is not with any of his friends? This is the kind of statement my ds would make but surely, they would have to take friendships into account?

eemum Fri 03-Jul-09 14:17:30

Thanks for all your responses so far... yes I have seen the class list and he is definitely without any of his friends. He wasn't asked to list any people beforehand - wish this was the case, however when I looked at the class lists with his teacher last night she obviously knew who his mates were anyway.

He has such a lovely circle of friends now and is doing so well academically, I'm just praying this doesn't de-rail him... Good to hear that some of you have seen a positive outcome.

I will go & talk to the head but am not hopeful anything will change. To be honest I think DS has fallen foul of his teacher being more concerned with splitting up the badly behaved and equalising the sexes and not reviewing her list from each child's perspective before finalising. I do appreciate there is a bigger picture here from the school's perspective, but naturally my main concern is my son's happiness and so I'm finding it hard to accept such an unecessarily sad outcome for him - if only just one of his friends had been put in the same class....sad.

lucykate Fri 03-Jul-09 14:30:46

dd's school mix the classes up every year, but they were asked to name 3 friends, and are guaranteed to be in the same class of at least one of their friends. this even takes precedence over splitting up naughty ones.

this year, they've had such huge problems splitting the new yr3/4 group, they usually have one class of yr3, one class mixed, and one class of yr4, but there is talk of it having to be 3 mixed classes this time

ingles2 Fri 03-Jul-09 19:37:00

The school have made a mistake there by not checking friendship groups I think.
My boys were asked to name 5 friends in each of the 3 classes per year and then their 2 best friends. For the vast majority it's been successful, mine included.
A couple wanted to be moved into different classes (away from certain people) and haven't which is their problem.

lljkk Fri 03-Jul-09 19:44:58

I would (& did) go talk to the HeadTeacher ASAP.

DD was put in a class with none of her usual friends, for Yr2. She was devastated about it.
BUT It worked out REALLY well. The headteacher said that part of the reason they wanted to move DD was because of social problems she had (her previous best-friend was fickle). DD eventually developed a fantastic best friend in the new class.

DS was separated from most of his mates for Yr4, but he gets Set Literacy and Maths with children across year groups, so he is in with his mates often, and he also sees his best friends at Playtimes. I think it has mostly worked out ok.

hocuspontas Fri 03-Jul-09 19:52:29

You have to go in and be very reasonable grin and ask if they would consider changing him. (No HT likes to be told they are wrong). Ask what the reasoning was behind him needing to be separated from all his friends. Mention the 'key friendships' that they said would be upheld. I think this has been an oversight. The class lists in our school are done by the HT, so this sort of thing could slip through. You stand a good chance if the other class has less pupils. The HT may not want to make changes as that opens the floodgates for other parents to make a fuss but there is no point in not trying. Good luck!

BestLaidPlans Fri 03-Jul-09 20:46:38

I appreciate there is a big gap between year 4s and year 6s but I thought I'd shove my Key Stage 2/3 teaching nose in! I just wanted to let you know that last year, our initially angry and sobbing children (and parents) thought the class changes were fantastic within about three weeks of starting the new year. We told parents we were willing to consider changes but only after half term so the children had time to settle.

I know it must be awful from your perspective and from your DS's at the moment but if your teacher has done the job properly and knows your DS as well as she should I'm sure he'll be fine. To stick up for the teacher a little bit, class change is a logistical nightmare. The year 6 team and I spent over three hours last night preparing class lists (I promise we don't just bung names in a bag and pull them out smile). The trouble is, it's a bit like playing jenga, it's not just friendship groups you have to take into account but gender balance, ability mix, the need for SEN provision, personality clashes, even whether you've shared out the gifted artists and sports people. Removing just one child can leave whoever chose your DS alone, then moving them could isolate two other people and so on. I must admit after three hours going scabby eyed over colour coded names and sugar paper I may also want to cry if there are any complaints right away on Tuesday when we announce!

Sorry for the essay, and I'm sure you probably knew everything I've rambled about anyway, I just wanted to say, talk to your son about seeing what things are like on transition day as he may find he enjoys it more once he's calmed down and you've had a chat (that's why the lists are usually given before transfer day, to make sure they have chance to prepare themselves and give transfer day a proper chance)Obviously, if he's still unhappy go in, so you can say, he's tried it, he's still unhappy, I appreciate all the work that goes into class lists, but is there any way you could consider moving him as I'm worried he'll fret all summer. She may still say wait until October but she's less likely to be short with you if you've encouraged him to give it a chance. Again, I know there's a world of difference between year 4s and Year 6s, but hope some (any!) of that was useful.

valeri Mon 06-Jul-09 18:57:46

hi everybody, it is my first time here. My child have been offered a reception class in a school that have the 1 and 1/2 year form entry. I have no idea what this means, how it works and why they do this.
I guess they mixed children with different ages but same ability?
I read in the ofsted report that many students leave that school during the year, I suppose they are not happy with the 1 1/2 year form entry.
Please any clarification is welcome.
thanks in advance

sarararararah Mon 06-Jul-09 20:25:22

Ok, Eemum, I second everything that Bestlaid plans said. I'm a teacher too and we spent 2 hours 2 weeks ago and another 1.5 hours today sorting our classes out. (2 YR and 2 Y1 classes to go into 3 Y1/2 classes). It is a bloody nightmare and is just as she desribes when you move just one child the knock on is massive. I too will cry (or swear, or bang my head against a wall) if there is a problem we haven't thought of. However, we are only human, it IS possible we will have made an error (even though the entire school teaching staff worked on it together!). So I would do as Bestlaidplans suggested. You will need to be very reasonable and I would recommend saying you know it must have taken them ages! If they won't budge though, do give it a chance before approaching them again. There may well be a very good reason for them doing this.

Valeri - I am happy to try and help you make sense of it but don't quite understand the set up! COuld you explain a little more clearly exactly which year groups are in which classes. Thanks!

Littlefish Mon 06-Jul-09 20:54:30

Valeri - schools do not have a choice over what size of intake they have. It sounds like your school has an intake of 45 children.

In this case, the school will have to operate a system o "mixed age classes". There are lots of different ways of doing this, but most of them have mixed ability and mixed ages.

If you do a search on mumsnet for "mixed age classes", you'll find lots of threads all about the different strengths and weaknesses of the arrangement.

The reason that children leave your school may be nothing at all to do with the mixed age classes. As Sarararararah says, we would need more information to try and help. Perhaps you could start a separate thread?

faraday Tue 07-Jul-09 10:05:42

Happened to my DS too, going from Y2 Infant school into Y3 linked Junior school!

Briefly- initially Y2 which was a pure Y2 class and a mixed 1/2 class (where DS was) expected to be split into three Y3/4 composite classes in Juniors thus the teachers were asked to form 3 groups. Each child was asked to name 2 friends.

2 weeks before the end of term, the Juniors decided they could make 2 pure Y3 classes instead (and 2 Y4's of course). Great. BUT the poor teachers had to scrabble around trying to redivide the DCs up! In the end they just took one of the 3 groups and split it in half and put half each into the other 2 groups.

Trouble is, the group my DS was allocated comprised almost exclusively of the 'pure' Y2 class, few of whom he knew. He somewhat exacerbated this by naming, like 90% of the Y1/2 class had, 1) a poor chap whose mother had recently died (and the school did a great job of supporting him thus ALL the DCs felt a 'responsibility' towards him!) AND 2) a boy who frankly was Billy No-Mates. To this day, DS can't explain WHY he named 'M' as his mate! ( I found all this out at the last Y2 parents eve when the teacher said she was so pleased SOMEONE had named 'M' as a buddy...')

Anyway, there was frank 'shock' at the Juniors parents open evening (when the class allocations came out) amongst the parents of my DS's friends- they all couldn't understand why DS was in the other class when ALL their boys were still together!

Now, there was lots of talk of 'Oh it doesn't matter they can all still be friends together, they can play at breaktime' etc but frankly my DS doesn't have a strong personality and inevitably his erstwhile mates were busy strengthening their bonds via sitting in the same class for 6 hours a day so DS inevitably fell out of that friendship group, sadly.

I have taken the step of getting DS into the same cub pack as this gang which he was pleased about but I now recognise that it's too late, really, the 'damage' has been done.

DS continues to be happy enough at his school but can't name his 'best friend'. Which isn't a serious issue to him.

NOW, being the realist, it's perfectly possible my DS's friendships with this gang of boys wouldn't have stood the test of time. The boys in question's parents are quite cliquey (I'm sort of in it too I should add!) but they do Cubs, footy and swimming ALL together- not THAT healthy, really, whereas DS has discovered he can function separately from them.

Blackduck Tue 07-Jul-09 10:14:32

Happened here reception to Y1 and is happening again Y1 to Y2. In reception was asked who he played with/talked about - gave list including name of one child he disliked intensely - guess who ds got put with.....? I had words - made no difference. This year same thing again...I suspect teachers balance the challanging ones, the ones who need more support, gender and ethic issues and some children (ds being one) are thought to be 'okay' whereever you put them. Not helped in ds's school is fact girls vastly outnumber the boys...
Have to say whilst ds was gutted not to be with certain children I think he'll be fine.

smee Tue 07-Jul-09 10:38:05

valeri, are you in London? If so lots of children leave because it's such a fluid population. Doesn't mean at all that the school has any problems.

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