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Combining reception classes - what do you think?

(21 Posts)
jaded Thu 10-Sep-09 21:08:28

My DD1 starts reception in a week's time (not the school we wanted as couldn't get a place at first choice). I've been to the settling in sessions and like the staff there. They are not pushy and v caring with this age group. HOWEVER I have discovered that the door separating the two reception classes will be open for most of the day (apart from story time, PE and registration)so that 60 children share the same toys and classroom and outside space. I think this sounds rather chaotic and I am worried in terms of health and safety. There will be 6 members of staff so the ratio is as it should be but I am still concerned. Can this be really beneficial? Do you see any advantages? I feel really uncomfortable with this set up. I was not under the impression that reception classes were organised in this way as when I went on the tour the door separating the classes was closed and I therefore just saw one class in operation. I really wanted my daughter at the first choice school and this makes me more determined to try and get her there!

DaisymooSteiner Thu 10-Sep-09 21:12:11

Ooh, maybe you live near me as this is exactly what happens at our local primary.

I've had two children go through reception with this system and it worked really well and they thrived. In fact lots of other local schools have been in to observe with a view to trying it out themselves.

gingernutlover Thu 10-Sep-09 21:14:31

this is considered good practice by ofsted, LEA's etc for at least parts of the day.

especially at this time of year, the children will be doing lots of self chosen play and in a set up like this it allows the teachers to offer a wide range of activities between the 2 classes, rather than duplicating the same activities in both rooms.

As the year moves on you will probably find things get a little more formal and there should never be a time when your dd is effectively "taught" (i.e. formal sit down teaching) in a class of 60 - this will be done in smaller groups, split by ability and needs between the 6 adults.

TigerFeet Thu 10-Sep-09 21:16:05

At dd's school there are three reception classes, 90 children in total. The reception area is totally open plan, which sounds like it ought to be chaotic but it really isn't. Different members of reception staff specialise in different areas and they move around the children teaching their specialist area. Children of similar abilities are taught together regardless of whose class they are in. It's a great environment and dd thrived. SHe's just moved up to Y1 where the arrangement is more traditional, separate classrooms and teaching. Shame really, I liked the reception setup.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 10-Sep-09 21:18:13

Yes, lots of schools do this. They do put a lot of thought into foundation stage education you know, they are not just running riot in there all day.

mazzystartled Thu 10-Sep-09 21:21:48

I think it sounds great
A other posters have said, it increases opportunities for social interaction, different activities and groupings of abilities.
I think unless a switch to school choice number 1 is realisitc you really need to get behind the idea of the current school - your daughter will soon pick up on your ambivalence...

jaded Thu 10-Sep-09 21:49:51

LadyGlencorapalliser - Sorry to 'offend' you in some way by suggesting they 'run riot' but coming from a nursery class of 26 I'm just wondering how my DD will cope. She is not even four and a half and I still think that 60 four and five year olds in one classroom sounds difficult to contain.
Tigerfeet - glad to hear your daughter thrived in this environment. How is she finding the transition to year one?

jaded Thu 10-Sep-09 21:54:41

Also I usually disagree with Ofsted thinks of what is 'good practice' !

TigerFeet Thu 10-Sep-09 21:55:49

She's fine thanks jaded, thanks for asking. Certainly she's back to doing "nothing" all day, which means she's happy and settled.

I'm sure your dd will be fine . Part of reception is learning how to behave and not to run about all the time. DD was 4.2 when she started, having come from a nursery class of about 20, and certainly didn't suffer from suddenly having a lot more classmates.

paisleyleaf Thu 10-Sep-09 22:02:31

The school we put as first choice (that we didn't get) does this. 90 children, 3 classrooms opening onto an outside playarea and an inside communal area, and the children free to come and go in all of them. And the curriculum was so 'play' based. It looked to be really good for the children....and if my daughter were to come out of school as confident and articulate as the children who showed us around that school, I'd be happy.

katiestar Thu 10-Sep-09 22:03:30

I don't think its a good idea at all.At that age they need to be building up relationships with staff who get to know them well.Notice if they are not their usual selves etc I don't see how they can do that if they are looking after 60.Too much like a baby farm

jaded Thu 10-Sep-09 22:55:20

I agree with you Katiestar - I hate the fact that my daughter might be lost in a sea of faces for 6 and a half hours a day, 30 hours a week (pretty much a working week for an adult). I don't think she'll thrive in an environment like that.

paisleyleaf Thu 10-Sep-09 23:17:28

Maybe you should chat to the teacher for some reassurance about it.

cat64 Thu 10-Sep-09 23:47:34

Message withdrawn

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 10-Sep-09 23:59:08

You didn't offend me, Jaded. I think you need to be a little more open to what this kind of arrangement can actually offer your DD. As other posters have, perhaps more politely, pointed out, it can have a lot of advantages in terms of broadening the range of activities available to children and, in fact, there is a good bit of research underpinning this system - it isn't the kind of mad free for all that you seem to fear.

OmicronPersei8 Fri 11-Sep-09 00:05:14

I've worked and helped out at schools that do this, and IME it works well. It can take a little longer for staff to learn all the children's names (maybe a week not a day), but then you get the benefit of several people being able to share their knowledge of your child. Working in that environment it feels like you're part of a family of adults all looking our for and supporting the learning of the children. I think it fosters a very warm approach.

And you won't get all 60 in one room: it's more likely to be around 20 in each room and 20 outside.

I don't know if this reassures you at all (it sounds like you really don't feel comfortable with it. It's something I look for in schools when I looked round as a teacher or a parent. I've also seen where doors are open between Nursery and Reception - I think it's great (and it is pretty calm, a bit like children being able to go in different rooms at home).

puffling Fri 11-Sep-09 00:13:23

It will be the same for dd except she's nursery age. They're combining the nursery and reception classes in 2 adjoining rooms. She'll be full time in uniform at age 3 with 5 year olds in the same class. I'm quite intrigued to see how the arrangement will work.

redskyatnight Fri 11-Sep-09 09:29:35

DS's reception does this too. It works really well. there is the opportunity for a greater range of activities (as more space/adults) and the children get to make more friends. DS's best friends were actually in the "other" reception class.

I thought it seemed chaotic as well at first but actually it is really well organised and you'll probably find the time is split between whole group activities, activities in individual classes and activities in small groups.

Seeline Fri 11-Sep-09 09:34:25

My DCs have both been through this system with 90 in reception. At our school it works really well, and the staff really know the children very quickly - names from day 1. There are alot of TAs aswell as the teachers which I think is important. I think you will find that as term progresses, things aren't quite so free range as they first appear. Certainly there will be more formal times for learning which will be done in Classes, or even smaller groups, as well as things like PE and music, which will be class grouped. I am really happy with the way things worked.

makemineaginandtonic Fri 11-Sep-09 10:47:30

My dd took a lot of comfort from knowing her nursery teacher well and knowing she was in charge and someone to go to if she had a problem. Now she is in reception with a similar set up to that described here and is finding it difficult to settle as there is no clear "person in charge". I can't help agreeing with jaded that a contained classroom where the students can easily build a relationship with their teacher must surely be preferable,at least for some children.

jaded Fri 11-Sep-09 16:54:03

Thank you for all the responses to this thread! Makemineaginandtonic - I hope your daughter settles soon. Is she there all day? Have you seen the class in operation? Is it very noisy? Are there children who find it easier to get away with bad behaviour? I take on board that the children would have more play opportunities & the staff ratio is ok but I don't know whether it would suit my DD who has been used to a quieter and smaller environment. I haven't read any research supporting this idea; most of the research I read is about how children of this age need an even greater staff: pupil ratio, shorter hours at school and shouldn't be taught to read and write.

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