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Mixed year groups - help!

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Jools1808, May 26, 2011.

  1. I'm an NQT and have just been told that my new school is changing their system and will be implementing mixed year groups from September.
    I have never worked in a school that does this, so I'm panicking a bit as I don't really understand exactly how they work.
    I'll either be 3/4 or 5/6. Can someone enlighten me about what this entails, what to expect etc? I don't want to attend my INSET day with the school not fully understanding how it will work.
    Thank you in advance.
  2. Nothing to understand basically,you include Y5/6 objectives on your planning with a similar theme and then differentiate 3 ways best fit as usual
  3. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    it's not much different to teaching single age groups really. You just look at where your children are and where they need to get to and then plan accordingly. You might find the range of abilities a little wider than in a single age class, but that can depend, I have a larger span of abilities in one of my years than in both yr group together (Iteach 5/6) Look at ability, not year group and you will not go far wrong! You will need a two year rolling programme for your subjects, which can take a little organisation but after that, off you go!
  4. beethan31

    beethan31 New commenter

    Yep I agree with CarrieV - think of it as 'stage not age' (ie. the stage the kids are at not their age/year group). I've got Y3/4 mix in September and had my first look at my draft class list on Tues. The Y3's are brighter than the Y4's! So I will probably be teaching mostly just Y3 stuff initially.
  5. We did this this year too. We do topics which cover everything except maths so for that its just their ability rather than age. For maths I tend to look at the higher year or both years objectives (I am Y4/5) and then differentiate as I would anyway.
  6. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    Although I teach yr 5/6 I also have a yr 4 in my maths group who is already a 5B and has passed many of my 5's by! If it wasn't for the fact that many of my yr 6's are even better, he would have no-one to challenge him( which he needs!)
  7. I've just finished my first year with a 3/4 class. Only a TA but for what it's worth...

    The curriculum is taught over 2 years, so all children cover every topic in 3/4 - but some do a topic in year 3, while other do it as year 4 (if that makes sense). We split into HA/LA year group sets for maths, but everything else is taught in mixed classes.

    The CT tends to differentiate by setting a task and presenting a 'challenge' ie a harder task. A lot of our year 3s go for the challenge option by choice - and a few lazy yr 4s try to get the easier one (although they never get away with it!). The abilities of the children mean that the year group divide becomes meaningless, and friendships exist across that barrier too.

    One thing that was very noticeable at the beginning of the year and which you might need to give some thought to, was the maturity difference between the new year 3s - just coming up from infants - and the new year 4s, but this soon melted away with many of the children.

    Having seen how it works, and how easily it works, I would say don't worry too much about the mixed year group thing. The school will presumably have set out how the curriculum divides over two years so as long as you can differentiate enough to cover the lower year 3s and the higher achievers in the class you'll be fine. Good luck (and hope you don't mind comments from a TA!)
  8. Thank you all so much for your advice. I feel much better about it and it's good to hear it in simple terms and to understand how it works practically.
    Amyclare - Never call yourself 'just' a TA - mine is my lifesaver and such a vital part of the class! I'm sure your teacher feels the same about you.
  9. Be greatful you can implement a rolling programme. I'm starting a new job in September with a class of Y2, Y3 and Y4 because the school is changing from a First to a Primary school. My plans next year will not get used again for at least 3 years because the year groups will change the following year.
    Mixed year group classes are not as difficult as they first appear as I've taught in several before; although they were already in place when I worked in those schools.
    A rolling A/B programme makes life easier. If you have other colleagues in the same mixed year group, this can reduce the planning you do.
    In one school, we had 3 Y3/4 classes with 2 job shares - 5 teachers - so splitting the planning was great as no one person got over-loaded.
  10. Mixed classes are real common place here in New Zealand. I would say most primary schools (except independent schools) will run mixed classes. I like it because it creates some really interesting learning, and it's always neat to get the older kids to help the younger ones. I'm currently working in a small backcountry rural school and I have a class of year 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s. For us, group work is essential, but if you're working with just year 5s/6s or 3s/4s, no sweat! Like some of the other people have said, work on ability, not age. All the best!
  11. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I work in a tiny village school and for foundation subjects I teach years 3/4/5/6. I would agree with all the advice so far, teach to ability not age and take the opportunity to stretch and support accordingly. What I would add is to mix up your differentiation. You can work in ability groups - same input but different Learning intentions, different support (ta, resources etc) same learning intention but with extended expectations for each group, or by outcome. You can also do some great mixed ability work. I often ask the children to work in teams led by a year 6. More able children model and support , whilst developing leadership and team skills.
    We have a 4 year rolling programme but I do have to hit skills objectives each year, for each topic. What I mean is that in a big school year 4 might be for example Romans, which has a set of level 3 skills objectives linked with it but I have to make sure that each year/ability group are developing appropriate skills , whatever the topic, so don't let a rolling curriculum restrict the objectives.

    Good luck

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