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Class sizes

(17 Posts)
schoolquandry Fri 12-Jul-19 09:49:42

Hi, have NC for this. Hope this is the right place to post. I'm torn between two schools. One is a small private prep primary, with class sizes under 20, walking distance, affordable if we budget really really carefully. DD has attended preschool there. The other is the state school we've been offered, a bit further away, prob 2.5 mile walk, so not always possible to allow that much time in mornings. There are 3x30 children per year, so the same number of kids in a year group as in the whole other school. The school blurb says each child is an individual and work will be tailored to fit etc. How is this realistically possible in a class for example, where some children will be able to read and some don't know the alphabet etc.

Gut feeling tells me that if a child is brighter than average and can tick the curriculum milestones, they'll be waiting for others to catch up to them. Academically, I think smaller class sizes are better. Obviously with a bigger school, there is a wider pool of people to be friends with,more clubs, more space etc. The state school does not give homework, whilst prep school does, and also has more time focused on free play, which I think is important too.

I'm just interested to know how teachers realistically deal with brighter kids at a young age, in such big class sizes - or is it more focussed on ticking boxes for league tables etc.

OP’s posts: |
monkeysox Sat 13-Jul-19 07:52:32

Like they do at any age. Differentiation

greathat Sat 13-Jul-19 08:05:15

Check the financial side of your small private school. I know of two that have suddenly closed with no warning

thatone Sat 13-Jul-19 09:08:46

Even in a class with 20 children there will still be a range of abilities.

A good school and a good teacher will never leave the higher ability children to coast while waiting for others to 'catch up'. Most schools worry about the data and levels and will want to show progress across all the ability ranges and will want to have children who are achieving above average ability.

Have you visited the state school? For me that is one of the best ways to judge and decide.

schoolquandry Mon 15-Jul-19 00:04:07

Thanks. I've visited the state school. It seems ok. I just don't get how if they're teaching basic phonics and letter sounds etc what a child who can read and can do basic addition/subtraction etc will do in class. Similarly, if there are areas she needs more support in (not aware of any at moment) how is this managed without being detrimental to rest of class. All schools I've visited have made the right noises about individual development and needs etc, but I don't have a clue how a teacher can realistically manage this with a large class. It's hard to know which schools can manage this better for than others.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Mon 15-Jul-19 00:09:23

How does the prep school have more time focused on free play ?
This seems at odds with the idea of giving little children homework confused

Youngandfree Mon 15-Jul-19 00:19:31

Yeah there’s 8 in my DDs class and they range from age 7.5 to 6 and they are all so different and have a range of abilities. A smaller class group just means the teacher will have more time with each student to help them if they need support or to bring them on further if necessary too!

MontyBowJangles Mon 15-Jul-19 23:12:43

I'm interested in this. Ds2 is in a reception class of 28. He's almost free reading and enjoys maths/times tables. He keeps saying he's bored as the teacher is still teaching phonics and really basic numbers/maths.

I don't see any evidence of the teacher challenging him or giving him different/more work. It's fine for Reception but next year if he's still saying he doesn't like school because it's boring I'll speak to his new teacher.

MontyBowJangles Mon 15-Jul-19 23:18:11

Oh and in your shoes I'd definitely go with the prep school.

MsJaneAusten Mon 15-Jul-19 23:18:44

EEF research says that class size has ‘moderate’ impact on progress. Anecdotal evidence will tell you differently:

educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/teaching-learning-toolkit/reducing-class-size/

Myhousesmells Mon 15-Jul-19 23:23:15

From my TA/ student teaching experience I would 100% go for the 3 form entry. Students may be moved into groups for English/ maths according to ability. They will in effect have 3 teachers caring for them instead of one, the experiences of clubs etc will be better due to higher staff numbers. Teaching and planning alone for 1 class is, in my opinion, harder and you don’t have people to bounce off. 3 teachers for one year group will mix ideas, share the teaching.. they will all have different attributes to help the children in different ways

PickAChew Mon 15-Jul-19 23:23:17

A 4 year old isn't realistically going to walk 2.5 miles each way, so that one will be a drive, at least one way, most days.

How tight would the tight that the prep school would leave you in be. Any other kids due to start school in the next few years?

Chochito Mon 15-Jul-19 23:27:09

I would send him to the state school, get a watertight morning routine in place, and monitor his progress and the differentiation and support in his first year.

All being well, you can spend the extra cash on extracurricular activities, books, trips and other things that will enhance his and your lives.

Myhousesmells Mon 15-Jul-19 23:27:42

You may also find the larger classes have more TA’s to support the children that need it. Having seen more children in the year groups, the teachers may also have better practice/ experiences with children similar to your own. I have worked in big schools and little schools and the class size doesn’t necessarily have an impact on the way the teacher differentiates the work

CraftyGin Tue 16-Jul-19 00:24:10

If you can manage the finances long term, go with the prep school (if not, save your money for senior school).

20 in a class is still quite big (so I wouldn’t worry about the financial security of the school), but your child is likely to have 1:1 reading every day, as well as a focus on handwriting.

Without knowing your prep school, I would imagine specialist teachers for Music, PE/Games, Art, Science, French, at a minimum. These lessons will give the class teacher blessed relief to plan and assess.

schoolquandry Tue 16-Jul-19 10:15:19

Thanks. Sorry for the delay. Some interesting points. I hadn't thought of teachers bouncing ideas off each other etc. To the PP who queried free play, I meant that the state school had a bigger focus on free play (which I like). I want them to be challenged, but also have some freedom to be kids. We have another younger child and are pregnant with our third, so will be pushed financially. I'm tempted to state school for a few years and then maybe move at 7, but partner thinks this is unevessary upheaval for kids and we should nail one option. From anecdotal stories, it seems TAs spend more time with struggling children, whilst brighter ones may be given different reading books to take home, but that's about it. ie focus resources where there's a greater need which makes sense, but does probably mean some children make slower development than they would in a class with a narrower range of ability.

OP’s posts: |
MarchingFrogs Wed 17-Jul-19 00:08:38

How does the prep school have more time focused on free play ?
This seems at odds with the idea of giving little children homework

Maybe it's why they have homework?

Interesting thought, though - pay someone thousands a term for them to let your DC 'learn through free play' on their time, then you spend your family time supervising the stuff, progress in which the school is judged great on?

2.5 miles is further than a child under 8 is expected to walk to / from school - do you live literally in the middle of nowhere, or is the state primary a school that you have deliberately ranked higher than your nearest / catchment one?

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