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Mixed age classes - your opinion

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Gwerclas, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. We had a meeting last night and discussed going from one class per year group to mixed age classes i.e. Y1/2, Y3/4, Y5/6.
    After a lenghty discussion we reached no firm decision. What are the proa and cons of both?
    Would love to hear your opinions because I'm not keen, however I can see fors and againsts.
  2. I have a mixed age class (and have had single age in the past) and it doesn't make much difference. The ability range spreads across both year groups.
    When planning from frameworks I am aware of both sets of objectives but really this should be the case in any single age class and some Y3 work towards Y4 objectives and vice versa!
    What I love is having children for two years instead of just one as you really get a chance to see them progress. Particularly the Y3s that I was concerned about at the end of last year but have now really taken off in Y4. You get to build up really good relationships with whole families over two years as well-if that's how it would work out for you.

    All in all I don't think it's as much of a big deal as it can seem when talking about it. Good luck
  3. Thank you.
    Anyone else have any experience of both single age classes and mixed?
  4. inq


    I've taught single year 5 and 6 as well as a mixed 5/6. It wasn't much different really. In maths the clever 5's were able to forge ahead, the slow 6's didn't feel that they were failing, the good 6's were able to be extended as a group.
    We had a 5, 5/6 and a 6 so taught humanities on a 2 year cycle so that caused us no problems.
    Once I stopped panicing and got in to MY class it was like teaching any other class.
  5. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    We have been single aged classes for a while now and there are things I do and don't miss about mixed age classes.
    * Younger children learnt many of the day to day things from the older ones without realising it.
    * Differentiation was not very different.
    * Topics were taught on a 2 year cycle so you didn't get bored with delivering the same units of work each year.
    * You didn't need to keep the class for 2 years as your y5's went to another teacher as y6 to be joined by another half class of y5's.
    * One thing I didn't like was the class wasn't cohesive as a whole at the beginning and sometimes the children in one year group would be a bit lazy about learning each others' names.
    * In the times of SATs (Wales) I sometimes felt I was in danger of neglecting the y5s when carrying out revision activities with the year 6s. No longer an issue as we are doing TA with all year groups all through the year (just a bit more for the y6)

  6. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    Agree with much that has been said above in terms of advantages. We have mixed age groups in a single class entry school, so have a partner to share planning with. I think the biggest problem is with Y1s moving up from FS. It's too much of a culture shock for them and something our school needs to address.
  7. karentee

    karentee New commenter

    we're thinking about doing the same thing, can see many positives as we are currently a one form entry, it would give us the chance to split those children who just don't get on with each other, take the pressure off the year 6 teacher, and give more opportunities for teachers to plan and work together. At the moment I can see more pros than cons.
  8. I am an NQT and started in Sept in mixed year 1/ 2 class, have 8 year 2s. I must say I can find it challenging at times. My lower year 1s are very poor and need more or less constant support (in literacy) from my LSA I then find I have to split myself between my next lower year 1s and my year 2s, which means my middles get left to carry our independent tasks and I can't always push my year 2s( who are the poorer year 2s) It can all be a bit much I find. Though I know there can be this difference in ability in a single year class.
  9. I have had a mixed year 2/3 class for 9 out of the past 10 years and although as others have said it has advantages as listed above it is very demanding as you have many more ability groups including special needs cgn on ieps. You also have to organise activities where you can work with one class uninterupted whilst the others do something independently and quietly which is hard for the chn to get used to at first.
    In terms of topic work it is fine as you teach the same topic at two levels or more depending on your ability groups but for Numeracy e.g. you are often teaching 2 separate units e.g. money to one class and time to another. The one year that I had a straight year 2 class I thought I had died and gone to heaven - much easier!!
  10. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Why are you treating them like two separate classes?
  11. I teach Yr 5/6 but had 2/3 last year. For maths, my yr 6's range in ability from level 5c to 2c, my yr 5's range from 5b to 2c so I have no more ability groups than I would have if each was a single aged class, each ability group simply has yr 5's and 6's in it. As for planning, I would never teach two separate units at the same time, we use differentiated objectives just as I would in a single age class. They are not two separate classes, they are one class, they are taught as such, by ability rather than age.
    Teaching a mixed age class is, I would imagine, no more difficult than teaching a single age class ( although I couldn't swear to it as I've never taught anything else!)
  12. i've taught both i've had a mixed 3/4 (both lower ability) and 1/2 (various ways) and i currently have pure y1. when we had mixed year groups we ran a 2 year cycle for topic and science work and we found that as they went up the school some children missed things!! teaching the class tho was easy once you got your head around teaching the two year group objectives at the same time!! but i do prefer single year groups tho as you differentiate enough within 1 year group and prefer a 1 year cycle too! hope this helps x
  13. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    I've done both and have to say I never saw what the fuss was about teaching a mixed-year class - I just treated them the same as any other class and differentiated accordingly. Most of the time the chidren 'forgot' what year group they were in - its not relevant to them! I certainly would never have taught 2 different units to the class. I found that having a mixed class really stretched my top ability Y1s which is alwaysa good thing. The only time I found it more awkward was during Y2 SATS but this was for 1 week in a year and was worked around with some careful thought and planning. (If you are having 2 mixed classes this will be much easier anyway as 1 teacher can have the Y1s while the other administers SATS etc for that week!).
    I also liked the fact that a 2 year cycle meant no-one got bored and you could be more creative (though I guess for the teacher who like recycling their schemes year on year this creates more work :p).
  14. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    Oh, forgot to add, the only time I feel mixed classes don't work as well is when it across Key Stages (2/3 is a difficult mix as expectations often seem to change in KS2) and especially R/Y1 as they are 2 different curriculums! If possible I would try to avoid these mixes unless strictly necessary. Otherwise, go for it!
  15. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    I would say the pros outweigh the cons. We try and split our classes so they are similar academically. We separate children from the same families and those who don't get on. We do teach in year groups from maths and english. One teacher takes Y2 english and the other Y2 maths. It works really well, particularly when there are cohorts that are boy or girl heavy. This doesn't seem to happen 2 years on the trot, so you end up with quite balanced classes.
  16. Many thanks to all of you who replied.
    The only real problems I have with it is the spread of abilities (especially in FS/ KS1) and the problems of SATs administering. I especially remember the feelings of guilt for my Y5s the year I had Y5/6, and the organisastional difficulties with Y1/2.
  17. The biggest difficulty is mixed age planning - not so bad for foundation subjects, but a nightmare in Maths and Literacy. It may work better in a large school, where teachers can collaborate on the planning, but in a small primary you have no one to bounce ideas off and sometimes it's hard work! I teach a Y2/3 class in Maths and Y3-Y5 in Literacy and spend a lot of time on planning.
  18. another option seen - straight year groups for lit/num, mixed forrest of 'fun' topics....
    just a suggestion.
    Agree with amjor points
    - crossing KS points (F->1, 2->3), are where most major issues occur.
    - as long as school works as a team the mixed year groups work well. But is does depend on circumstance.
    -if trying it, how long would they do it for, would suggest a minimum of a 2 year trial (to prevent gaps later on).

    Please let us know your school outcome !

  19. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    What a damning indictment of our system that the changes between Key Stages are so constantly cited as an issue.
    Do we imagine that something magical happens to children over the summer of their 7th year? Or do we just force them into a differently-sized pigeon hole?
  20. They are treated as two separate classes as in reality that's what they are just as they would be if taught in single classes. It's very hard to combine units in Maths as e.g. one class might have to cover o'clock and half past times which may take about 5 lessons and the other class might be doing 5 min interval times which may take 7 lessons so it's almost impossible to keep them on the same unit. Also if it's a practical unit such as measures there is no way we would have enough room to bring 30 children around the water tray for capacity work so it would be done with one class while the other class work independently. Another example is where my year 3 do multiplication and division and the year 2's do not so they have to be taught separately.
    As another poster mentioned there is a greater amount of planning to be done for the wider range of ability groups and if you are the only teacher with that year group it's all down to you (maybe different in a larger school where it could be shared) Some people also seems to work the lower achievers from the older class in with the younger class but believe me this does little for the child's self-confidence.
    Having spoken to a number of colleagues they would all choose a straight class given the option.

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