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Managing the Mixed Year group class - is it possible?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by exon16m, Oct 30, 2018.


Can you meet all abilities of educational need in a class of 30 reception and year one children

  1. yes

    8 vote(s)
  2. no

    9 vote(s)
  1. exon16m

    exon16m New commenter

    Just woundering how any of you manage mixed ability year groups?

    The school where my child goes changed this year to being age specific rather than ability specific classes.

    In previous years Reception and the less advanced year one children would be in a single class and the able year 1 and year 2 children in another.

    This year all year 1 and reception are staying in the same class.

    I spend 2 afternoons a week helping with reading as I am very conscerned about the education my child is getting from the school and want to help. I have observed a massive range in ability in the class from children that need help toileting to children like my own who are independently reading with observation.

    What I have noticed is my child and the 4-5 other with similar higher abilities are "at or exceeding the expectations" and so are left to play so the teacher can concentrate on the other 25 who are needing more attention and thus are not achiving their educational development potential. The teacher is a good teacher but clearly stressed the work place is small and I feel she is not able to speak openly about how she feels to the head

    I appreciate there are huge finantial pressures in education but what would you advise, I took this up with the head teacher who was directly confrontational back demanding what evidance do you have to support this followed by a letter complaining about me not following a complaints procedure.

    My questions are:

    1) Is it possible in a class of 30 for a single teacher and part time TA to adaquetly tailor education to meet the needs and potential of all children reception and year 1 ombined enviroment?

    2) Is it the normal practice to be age specific or ability specific when allocating children into mixed yeargroup classes
    install likes this.
  2. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    1 is too difficult to answer as I haven't had to do it! I imagine it would be very challenging but not necessarily impossible.
    2 very much depends on the school. There is no norm. I've known schools to do neither age nor ability as such, just create a mixed age class with a broad range of ability.
    install likes this.
  3. Sundaytrekker

    Sundaytrekker Star commenter

    1. Yes, it’s possible although you really need a full time TA as you have reception children who need supervised access to outside play. I’ve been head of schools with very successful reception/year 1 mixes.
    2. By age is easier for parents to accept as they can’t argue with their child’s date of birth. By ability makes more manageable classes and, most importantly, makes it easier for children to progress.

    As an aside: I’ve always tried to welcome parent helpers into the classroom but your comments make me feel that your presence in the classroom is now going to feel uncomfortable for the school. They need support not criticism. Can you agree to trust the teachers and their professional judgement over this? If not, you might need to think of finding a school without mixed age classes.
  4. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Of course it is possible and manageable. It is very common practise. It can work very well.
    I have worked in schools with mixed age classes and have been a head of one.
    What a shame you approached the headteacher in the manner you did.

    I agree with Sundaytrekker.
  5. install

    install Star commenter

    Possible - at a squeeze, but not ideal for the teacher or the children. Having said that, it does happen. What a pity the ht reacted in such a manner to your genuine concern. They could have handled it better. Sounds like you may have unknowingly touched a nerve .:cool:
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    All the village schools where I live have such classes and all divide by age (if splitting year 1).
    Some of those schools achieve the top SATs results in the county/country.

    It is perfectly possible, but if this is the first year your school has done this split, it will take the teacher a while to get used to it. Maybe cut her some slack rather than complain to the head? Two afternoons a week playing in year 1 sounds no where near enough playing time to me!
  7. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    A school I worked in recently had only 3 classes:
    R & Y1;
    Y2 & Y3;
    Y4, 5 & 6

    It was judged outstanding by Ofsted when inspected that year.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Mmm...wouldn't want my child in a mixed ability yr 4,5 and 6 class (unless it is understandably in a far out location or village school.struggling to.fill its numbers) , and I don't trust Ofsted judgements much these days.

    To me, its down to parental preference in the end and what they feel is right for the needs of their child. :cool:
  9. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Yep - village school in an affluent area, so many pupils go private. It's not struggling to fill its numbers now!!

    Every child in Y6 achieved or - mainly - exceeded what s/he was predicted to achieve, for what that's worth.

    I've taught mixed Y5/6 in two very different schools. It can be done well for most of the year, but SATs preparation does mean the Y5s had a raw deal for a few weeks.
    lrw22 and Sundaytrekker like this.
  10. drek

    drek Star commenter

    not sure what your role is? Are you a TA or some sort of voluntary parent reader aide?
    Sorry not sure how primary works...
    At secondary if a parent is an LSA then they are generally not timetabled to support the same classes as their own child is in, as this would cause all sorts of issues for staff as well as students.
    did you speak to the teacher about your feelings first and give them a chance to explain why 'play' might be beneficial for the advanced readers in the group?
    You say you had a 'chat' about mixed ability groups with the headteacher?
    That sounds like a political issue rather a particular 'concern' to do with your feeling your child not being stretched enough.
    Was it invited by the HT as in at a formal meeting or just random conversations whenever you bump into the head?
    it might be difficult to see that other people's day are structured to avoid burn out same as in other jobs where face to face contact with other people/children is full on all day.
    Perhaps your childs teacher is using what might appear to be 'play' activities to encourage/promote life skills (communication, teamwork, independence) which can appear as a waste of time to people not yet updated with the dfe's latest 'curriculum' demands.
    digoryvenn and Sundaytrekker like this.
  11. install

    install Star commenter

    It seems to me your role op is as a caring,.considerate and concerned parent and also as a helper in the local community. You are willing to offer much of your time too (2 afternoons a week) and have raised questions with the ht - only to be rebuffed. If only other parents did more and were praised for doing so.

    A pity the ht has not praised your contribution or awareness of how all students need to be given equal opportunities at all levels and ages . It would not surprise me if parents of the top.ability here considered other schools if available where being top of the class didn't mean just being 'left to play'...

    Sometimes, sadly,.some schools do not know what to do with brighter or older students in mixed ability classes and panic when questioned about their teaching :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018

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