Mixing Classes – Frequently Asked Questions
We are often asked about our approach to swapping classes . We have 2 classes per year.
We try to rebalance at the end of each year with minor and sometimes full reshuffles.
This approach was developed with the parent forum a few years ago but tweaked in COVID.
Why have the classes become imbalanced?
When 60 children start in Reception the classes are balanced out as much as possible taking into account a range of factors such as friendships, special needs, language ability, age and gender. As the children progress through the school the classes can become less balanced due to variety of reasons:
Mobility – for a number of years we have experienced quite a high turnover of pupils and due to an apparently random combination of factors this affects some year groups more than others. If a new child joins we can only place them where there is a space as we do not want class sizes above 30 except in exceptional circumstances.
Ability – children develop at different rates and it is not always apparent when joining Reception which children will excel at different subjects. This may cause an imbalance between classes as the year group progresses through the school.
Will this apply to all year groups? We discuss all year groups, as we do each year, and then make a decision. Last year we did not mix or swap to a high level due to the pandemic, because the other year classes are already fairly evenly balanced and only required one or two moves. This is because mixing certain year groups at this time two years ago was highly effective.
Will my child still be in a class with their friends? When we have made a decision to mix a year group we will ask the children which group of friends they get on with. These responses will be taken into account when we divide the year group and every child should have at least one friend in their new class. In addition, each child will be with approximately half the children from their existing class. Some children already have friends in the other class and it is a good opportunity for them to make more friends.
Will the school be streaming or ability setting? We aim to put together a good balance of abilities within each class, such that children who share similar strengths or difficulties in particular areas can sometimes work together. We are not proposing to stream or set in Year 1. We would continue to teach mixed ability classes but remain open to flexible groupings for some lessons just as we do now.
Will mixing up the classes leave my child having to find their feet again and disrupting their progress? The current class teachers are very aware of their own class dynamics. We want children to make maximum academic progress and do not want to put any child in a position where they have a setback. We have taken such issues into account when we make the decision to mix a year group.
How did you decide the mixing within a year group? This was based on a variety of factors including:
Children’s views on friendships and who they do and do not learn best with
Teachers views on friendships and who they do and do not learn best with
What are the benefits for the children?
Better resilience in developing friendships in a safe, comfortable environment (even more important in when they are starting a new Key Stage.)
Widening working groups.
Being part of a year group and not just a class.
For some children less mobility within the class
For some children a better match to a working group