Information for Parents – Mixed Aged Classes
What is a mixed age class and why do we have them at Etwall Primary?
A mixed aged class is a class in which there are children who are from one or more year groups. Sometimes, these year groups are from one key stage only and at other times, year groups are mixed across key stages. For example, in the past Etwall Primary has had mixed Reception/Year 1 classes as well as mixing different combinations of year groups as we have currently have within Key Stage 2, such as Year 3/Year 4 or Year 4/Year 5.
Mixed aged classes are formed in schools partly because of the pupil admission number (PAN) for each school. At Etwall Primary, our PAN has recently increased to 45 which is too large for one class. The total possible number of children in two year groups is 90 which we then divide into three classes of 30 children with an equal mix of both year groups.
It is not uncommon for the situation to change from year to year as the sizes of year groups can vary.
Will my child be held back if she/he is placed in a mixed age class?
No, because the ways in which learning is organised means that teaching is tailored to the needs of individual pupils. The fantastic teachers at Etwall Primary are experienced at differentiating planning and delivering work to children of all abilities and to different year groups at the same time. Teachers and teaching assistants provide challenge for more able children and support for those needing more help, whichever year group they are in. As a school, we plan enhancement and enrichment activities across two year or four year phases as this is how key stages are organised. We have a rolling curriculum to ensure that topics are not repeated unless we have chosen to do so.
Will mixed age classes mean that my child’s friendship group is broken up?
In general terms, it is good for children to experience classes with different classmates so that their circle of friends can extend beyond the traditional age boundaries. We do recognise that there will be smaller numbers of children from each year group within each class and are therefore mindful of friendships. Our aim is to ensure that children are placed in classes where they will be with other children that they learn best with. This will not always mean that children are with their best friends but we will try to ensure that everyone is in a class with other children in their wider friendship group.
How are classes put together?
A number of factors are taken into consideration and professional judgements are made. These include (in no particular order): age, gender, ability, Special Educational Needs, class size, friendship groups, siblings, learning behaviours. These factors are taken into account at every level with teachers, senior leaders and the headteacher all contributing to the class list. However, it is the Head Teacher who makes the final decision based on their professional judgement of where each child fits into the bigger picture of the school as a whole and to enable all children to flourish in their personal, social and academic achievements.
What are the benefits of mixed age classes?
Children benefit in different ways. The older children in each class become role models and the ‘experts’ in the classroom which can do wonders for their confidence. The younger children in each class benefit from the experience of the older children and often settle into routines more quickly as the older children model the expectations. The younger children often aspire to the achievements of the older ones which supports their academic achievement too.