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teachers - do you think this set up sounds too chaotic?

(7 Posts)
mrsshackleton Sun 01-Nov-09 22:08:38

My dd1 has just started reception and I have a couple of concerns. Her school was very oversubscribed this year so they are running two parallel receptions (normally one form intake) and they've also launched a new system whereby they share their building with the nursery and a lot of the day the children are playing/learning side by side with the nursery children. The two receptions are separated by a room divider, meaning effectively, there are about 65 children running about in two rooms.

We've been given a lot of waffle about how this is a great system mainly because the reception children are great role models to the nursery but my fear is it's too chaotic in there. Mums who go in to help read tell me it does appear to be bedlam and often the reception teachers are busy helping the nursery children who've wet their pants or whatever and the reception children MAY (because I'm just guessing, don't want to be flamed) be missing out

DD1 is a shy, quite nerdy child. She seems quite happy but she is definitely finding reception exhausting (and she's only been doing 9-12 this term she does whole days from tomorrow which I'm a bit apprehensive about). She's been finding making friends a bit tricky, partly I think because most children were in the nursery together and have friends already, but partly I think, after a chat with her tonight, because she is so overwhelmed she can't quite cope. I said if she was tired maybe she should do a puzzle or whatever in a corner and she said "But Mummy the noise from the other class is so loud I can't concentrate". Obviously I am now in a pfb tailspin that my little darling is in too raucous an environment and it may not be suiting her temperament.

There are also issues such as no one has heard her read for a couple of weeks. I am panicking that in this double class situation there aren't enough resources and the quiet ones get overlooked.
I will talk to the teachers about this naturally, but I'd be grateful for some steer. Am I overreacting? Do all children find it so overwhelming at first? Is this joint nursery/reception thing a good idea (I gather it's happening all over the place)?

Sorry for long post but any advice would be very welcome grin

sunnydelight Mon 02-Nov-09 02:40:21

I guess, because it's a new situation for the school, it may take a while for everyone to get used to things. I'm guessing that they are probably sharing space with the nursery not for any real educational reason, more an attempt to find enough physical room for the additional class that the school has been forced to take. Not much help for your child though who has ended up in the middle of things!

I personally don't think a chaotic environment is condusive to effective leaning. Some kids do ok, lots don't. My DD is in kindy (reception equivalent)this year and one of the things I love about the school is it's air of calm and quiet purpose. Lots of smiling, happy kids, but when they're working it's quiet. It's the same further up the primary school as well.

I would keep an eye on things. It may not be the best environment for your child, but I guess a lot will depend on whether or not you have any other options. It's early days yet - maybe you could try and identify a couple of children you daughter likes and invite them for playdates - if she has her own friends already the playground might be less indimidating. Also, listen to her read at home on a daily basis - it is very frustrating when your child's reading isn't been heard at school but take the initiative - what matters is that SOMEONE listens to her read. Hopefully the teachers can reassure you that there is method in the madness!

orangekitkat Mon 02-Nov-09 11:32:45

A noisy, bright, busy Foundation (3-5 years) unit is a good thing, but it should be balanced with quiet, focused times. A lot of Foundation units provide a quiet area - somewhere away from all the hub-bub where little ones who find things overwhelming can go. There should be a few times throughout the school day when 'the class' comes together for shared work - perhaps a story or counting. There should also be some small group work time for literacy, maths and phonics skills throughout the day/week. If this is happening then it might be that no-one has heard your little one read on a one-to-one for a while. A few pertinent questions along the lines of 'I was just wondering' will get the best response from the teachers. And don't ask at the start of the day, at the end of the day is better!

CybilCybilCybil Mon 02-Nov-09 11:39:15

At my school one reception class and the nursery share outside space, not sure how condusive to any kind of learning the set up you describe would be.

mrsshackleton Mon 02-Nov-09 11:52:31

Thanks everyone

Was typing wrong last night - there are 90 children in the space, not 65!

Apparently the "foundation unit" is the new thing, sunny, obviously not where you are - I'm guessing Australia, and most primary schools seem to be getting one. I am very hmm if they are really any good or just a cost-cutting exercise. I will ask if there are quiet areas and if so point them out to dd1. She seemed happy to go back today and I like the school's atmosphere and it's very close to us and I think the atmosphere might work brilliantly for some kids but of course I worry dd1 is not the right type for it.

sunnydelight Mon 02-Nov-09 12:54:27

Yes, we are in Australia mrss smile Funnily enough DS2 started school in England in an independent, alternative school 7 years ago where the nursery and reception kids were in a mixed class, so I guess they were doing the "foundation stage" before their time. It worked really well - but there were 10 nursery kids and 12 reception with four teaches which is a very different situation to what you describe.

The fact that your child is happy has to be the bottom line, and you are obviously attuned to the fact that this may not be the perfect set up for her so will keep an eye on things - that's the best you can do. Children are incredibily resiliant; hopefully you'll look back on this in six months time and wonder what you were worried about. I hope your DD has a fantastic reception year.

Tinuviel Mon 02-Nov-09 13:14:09

My DS1 was in a 'double' Reception class, so potentially 60 children in one room. However, the school was undersubscribed and there were 2 intakes in the year. So he had 1 term of 22 pupils with 1 teacher, and 2 terms of about 50 children with 2 teachers. Nursery were in a separate building. It worked really well there and wasn't too noisy. They changed it round before DS2 started and moved Reception into the nursery building. How that worked out, I don't know as we withdrew both boys to home ed. Even there, the Reception were in a different room across the corridor. When my DD went to a different nursery, it changed to a Foundation Unit, but again the Reception classes had their own classrooms with access to the nursery.

The set-up you describe doesn't sound like it's working that well but it may be worth mentioning the things you like as well as the things you don't - you are likely to get a more positive response from staff!!

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