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Guardian asked us to comment on increase in number of classes in primary schools

11 replies

RachelMumsnet · 22/01/2010 12:16

The Guardian has asked us for our thoughts on the LEA's decision to increase the number of classes in primary school years - ie to 3 or 4 class intake. What are your thoughts on this?

OP posts:
thirtysomething · 22/01/2010 12:24

My children are already at or have been through a 3-class intake primary. I think it has huge benefits for the children provided the school buildings, infrastructure are properly adapted to cope with the numbers. My children have a huge pool of friends across the 3 classes, as every couple of years the classes are re-organised, at which point they make new friends as well as keeping old ones.

From a teaching point of view it means they can divide the year into 3 groups for maths and literacy based on ability. whilst this seems harsh in a way as the children are aware of who is in top, middle and bottom sets, it means they get teaching at the right level for them and don't have to wait for other children to catch up, if they are at the top end,for example. This way they generally end up being taught by at least 2 if not all 3 of the teachers in the year which also has advantages, especially if a child doesn't totally hit it off with their own form teacher. It also creates a real sense of community within each year group and makes the children adaptable when they make the transition to secondary. Both my children would have felt stifled in a smaller school.

The only downside is that a quiet child can get a bit "lost" within the year but I think this has more to do with individual class sizes than how large the year is overall.

CalpurnicaTate · 22/01/2010 12:41

Our school has just reduced its class intake to 2 from 3. The CC is selling off the playing fields around the school to a private company. Therefore there is no room to expand. All this is despite the increase in children needing reception places.

Many schools do not have the physical space to expand so how are they going to do this ?

notcitrus · 22/01/2010 12:48

Ds not at school yet but local primary (was 1-class entry) has recently had to add an extra R/Y1 class and this year it's a full extra R class which they're going to do next year.

Sort of good in that if this and other nearby school don't increase, there won't be a nearby school place for ds, but means that a school is trying to double in size on a crowded inner London site. I'm hoping that a new school will open a bit further away where there is some space, to take the pressure off - it's the height of the baby boom round here.

cornsilk · 22/01/2010 12:49

What 30 something said. The suitability of the building is very important. Are they planning to rebuild schools to accomodate this?

newgirl · 22/01/2010 12:51

my dd school has 1 in take and it is just not enough for the local area - families who live just 500m from the school sometimes do not get in. There are some parents who think this should be preserved but i think thats a bit nimby. We are in a city centre and the reality is that it is growing.

FiveGoMadInDorset · 22/01/2010 12:52

Our 3 nearest primary schools last year had an intake of 7, 11 and 9, into their receptions so don't see that it will be a problem here.

MerlinsBeard · 22/01/2010 12:53

Could they not just a) stop building "affordable" apartments and build "affordable" houses instead - that way decreasing the number of people in one particular area.

b) rejig catchments to keep schools open that are being closed for poor attendance rates Thinking specifically of my DCs school - severely over subscribed within a HUGE catchment. A tiny rejig would mean the next school could remain open!

cat64 · 22/01/2010 13:00

This reply has been deleted

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RollBaubleUnderTree · 22/01/2010 13:04

It has happened at our school. From 1 class per year to 2. I am not complaning as it means my children got in when they would not usually have done so, as it is a church school and we do not attend. Some of the parents are not impressed as the infrastructure has not imporved fast enough. There is not enough room in the hall for all the children to eat lunch so some have to eat in classrooms for instance. The hall is far too small. The building work has started but it has been far too slow.

Hassled · 22/01/2010 13:51

Agree that the suitability of the site is the key - no point tacking on extra shiny new classrooms if there can never be a whole school assembly, the teachers can never park their cars etc.

I'm very used to larger schools at primary level - DS3 is in a 3 form intake at Year 3, having left a 4 form intake at his Infant School. And I think it works well - cross-school activities like School Councils work well because they are larger; the children have to listen to a bigger range of opinions and get more of a sense of being part of a school community. Teachers get the chance to share good practice and resources, and plan their lessons with others in the same year group.

Another advantage of larger schools is that it makes the transition to Secondary slightly less of a shock to the system - moving from a 1 form entry Primary to an 8 form entry High must be overwhelming for the more timid children.

I'm not quite sure what the story is behind this - is it to deal with current demographics in existing catchments, or is it with a view to closing some schools and making one super-school - i.e. merging catchments? If the latter, I would hope that someone somewhere is thinking about Travel Plans - what are the road safety implications? How does it fit with the Walk to School campaigns?

Snuppeline · 22/01/2010 14:00

I agree with what's been said here, the building need to be appropriate for the number of classes in each year and across the years. In my view the most important thing isn't how many classes there is in one year but how large the class size is in any class - and they tend to be too large.

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