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Clarification about mixed groups

Discussion in 'Primary' started by BristolLanguages, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. BristolLanguages

    BristolLanguages New commenter

    I am just trying to get my head around this. I have two friends with kids in different primary schools and both of them have been offered a place in a mixed group for next year. The kids are finishing reception, and apparently next year they could do on a Y1-Y2 class. I suppose the idea is that this will help the most able kids in Y1 and support the Y2, but I don´t really understand how this can be maintained through the school, or what the point of it is. One of my friends asked what would happen in y2, and they said that her kid would stay in the same classroom but with new kids from Y1. She didn´t really understand how it would work, as the second year, her daughter would be much more advanced and the kids in y1 would have just come from reception. While the other school just said to my other friend that they continue in mixed groups throughout the school. I am not quite sure how it works in terms of levels or why they would do that if they could still do sets in the normal groups.

    Do you do this in your school?
  2. southernteacher

    southernteacher New commenter

    Yup, we, like many schools, have mixed age classes. We have rec/year1 class, year 2/ 3 class and a year 4/5/6 class. Teaching is highly differentiated to year/ ability/needs. Children don't all get taught the same thing, teachers just have to plan to teach each year group and each ability to move them all forward every day. (That is why we are all permanently exhausted :) )
  3. paulie86

    paulie86 New commenter

    We've had mixed groups for maths and found it worked excellently with the old national curriculum. With the introduction of the new curriculum which sets out what you have to teach in each year group (and only keep giving them depth) rather than teaching from above we are going back to teaching it in classes.

    I am sure someone working in a smaller school will be able to explain what they do. I imagine they teach a rolling programme i.e. only teach a topic every two years so that they kids don't have to repeat the same lessons. So they may teach a mix of the expectations from each year group one year and then teach the rest the next year.
  4. BristolLanguages

    BristolLanguages New commenter

    It seems quite hard work for the teacher! Paulie86, what do you mean with "teaching from above"?
  5. BristolLanguages

    BristolLanguages New commenter

    So, Southernteacher, besides getting the teachers really tired, do you see any benefit to this method? I suppose having different age groups is good for the development of social skills, but I would think that academically it would probably be easier for teachers and kids to be in age groups? I am not sure.
  6. carol95

    carol95 New commenter

    I live in a rural area where small schools and mixed age ranges are the norm. I work in a large school where inconsistent intakes mean that mixed age ranges are necessary as otherwise you could find one class of 15 in a year group but the next year group could have 36 . mixed year groups helps to smooth out changes. With careful planning and a rolling. program it hasn't been a problem.
  7. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I think it's almost always done in response to pupil numbers. If you have a nice neat multiple of 30 pupils per year, no problem. If you have 15, or 45, pupils per year, you can't have single year groups all through. I've even seen it to enable 5 classes across two year groups.
  8. southernteacher

    southernteacher New commenter

    No I don't think there is a benefit but we have small numbers so can't have a class per year group. Having said that with good planning and teaching I don't think the children are disadvantaged.
  9. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    We are a small school and have always had mixed classes. We currently have a mixed year 4,5,6 class. It does work but is hard work and needs good planning and organisation. The kids seem to do really well. It also gives you the flexibility to split some year groups based on need and place some children from a year group with the year below eg. year 2,3,4 class and a year 4,5,6 class.
  10. squirrel9367

    squirrel9367 New commenter

    I have year 3 and 4 - we only have 8 year 4 children this year so too small for a class although I had 9 in year 6 last year!
  11. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    We have mixed year groups due to numbers we take every year. Is a challenge especially EYFS/Y1 and a Y4/Y5 class. We have a two year rolling programme in KS1 and a four year one in KS2. Teachers meet the needs of the abilities of the children in the class just the same as in straight year groups which have a wide range of ability.
  12. BristolLanguages

    BristolLanguages New commenter


    Thanks for your replies.
  13. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I think there can be benefits. In any class you have a range of abilities, with children are working at different levels. If you teach in year groups, there will be some children who will always be the cleverest ones and some who will always find things the hardest. If you mix year groups like this, the position in the class changes every other year.

    Say the school has Year 1/2, Year 3/4 and Year 5/6 classes. If you're an able Year 1 child, you will be in the middle of the class in Year 1 and the top in Year 2, then the middle again in Year 3. You don't get a chance to become complacent about your ability, because you can see that there are children working at a higher level. And if you're a less able Year 1 child, you will be at the bottom of the class in Year 1 but the middle in Year 2. You're not always the one needing extra help because you can't do it and everyone else can. It's good for your self esteem because you see that there are children working at a lower level than you.

    It's good for social skills and class dynamic, too, because you don't have the same children in the same class for 6 years. That means if your year group is quite quiet but you're a lively boy, you're not going to get labelled 'the naughty one' because there might be some other lively characters in the year above. Similarly, if the year group is generally quite lively and you're a quiet boy, you're not continually getting lost in the crowd because there might be some other quieter children in another year group who you can be friends with.
  14. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    I teach mixed 3/4. We have 45 in each year, so we have 3 classes of 30.

    We have a two year cycle of overall topics and just differentiate really well. My levels at the start of the year were 1a to 4c, but you could get that range within a single year 4 group anyway. It is a challenge to be supporting some who are struggling to remember full stops while there are a couple ready for colons, but we're used to it!

    Next year we are going to try some setting for maths, by doing an assessment for the subject area (eg addition or time) then taking the 30 higher abilities into one group and having two mixed groups (absolutely not a top, middle and 'bottom'!) and we'll see whether that eases some of the differentiation challenges and pushes them on better. We'll assess for each subject area and change the groups every time as much as needed.
  15. BristolLanguages

    BristolLanguages New commenter

    If you have an intake of 45, wouldn't it be better to have two classes of 22 and 23?
  16. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    But then you would need an extra classroom (and extra teacher), which the school may not have.
  17. michaelt1979

    michaelt1979 Occasional commenter

    We have an intake of 45 and would love to have two classes of 22 and 23. But we'd need an extra 3 classrooms and teachers, with no extra funding.
  18. BristolLanguages

    BristolLanguages New commenter

    It's a shame, isn't it? I bet it would make life so much easier for you to have other 3 colleagues, plus for the kids, being in a class of 22 is so much nicer than 30!

    Thanks to all for your replies. It just makes me wonder, from your replies I gather that the main reason for mixed classes is budget and space. However, in the case of the schools my two friends' go to, they are trying to sell the parents the idea of mixed classes as an advanced way to teach their children... like you are "bright" if you go to the mixed class. But in the end, I would think that a teacher's efforts would be spread much more thinly in a mixed class that concentrated on just one year group. Not that the teacher is going to be less professional, but I'd say thinking up resources and stuff for 2 different sets, multiply that by different abilities within the sets must take a fair amount of energy!
  19. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    Yes please to the smaller classes... but we do indeed have just the 3 rooms. :-( Our colleagues in years 1, 2, 5 & 6 have separate classes of 22/23 each: we're the bottleneck. Sigh

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