Mixing classes between year groups?

(20 Posts)
ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Thu 04-Jul-13 11:23:01

DD is just finishing reception and heading to year 1.

She is in a double class year group and when she started in Sept we were told that the classes they were in wouldn't change and that they wouldn't be mixed at the end of the year.

So, we found out yesterday they're all being mixed. We haven't formally been told this is what is happening, only playground chatter reveals one is having one teacher and someone else is going somewhere else etc etc.

DD's very good friends are moving to the other class and there are a few more parents that aren't happy with the changes.

There have been a few girls in tears this morning as tomorrow is transition day and everybody seems nervous.

I approached the teacher and asked why they're being mixed when we were assured they wouldn't be and I just got a very sharp short reply in that it sometimes happens when classes don't gel. But it hasn't been done at our school for the past five years.

I'm not very happy with the teacher's answer and while I'm accepting that this is what's happening I would have preferred to have been told formally a little sooner than two days before transition day.

The teacher said that the children were asked what three friends they like but weren't told why they had to choose three friends. My DD chose three friends she doesn't even play with very much and I feel that if she was told why she was choosing three friends she might have been more careful in her selection.

Is this a normal occurrence for most schools?

do we just suck it up and carry on? Will it happen every year? What are the usual reasons for such an exceptional decision to be made? I wonder if there are real gelling issues with friendships for this to be done for the first time in five years.

TIA. :-)

Periwinkle007 Thu 04-Jul-13 11:37:59

it could be linked to many things - it could be due to a couple of bullying type issues, it could be to mix up ESL children if they are clumping together and therefore not branching out and speaking English or mixing, it could just be a change in policy and the teacher isn't sure. They used to do minor mixes in our school apparently but when new head arrived a few years ago they now rejig them completely. Our children don't get a say in any of it, they just go in one day and get split into the two new classes.
my daughter is with some of her friends, not with others but she is with the only 2 she doesn't like and finds intimidating!

There isn't anything you can do about it - it is entirely up to the school really and yes it probably will happen every year, it seems to happen in most schools as far as I know but the extent to which it happens varies.

If she really isn't with any of her friends then you could speak to the teacher but they would only be able to move her if another parent of a child in the other class happened to also ask to go the other way otherwise how could they just move a child who has already been told they are going to one teacher with one group of friends that they have to move to accommodate someone else.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Thu 04-Jul-13 11:46:45

In my head I know there isn't anything I can do about it but my heart just says that I want it to stay the same.

It seems to only be a select handful that are swapping over, less than ten I think. Not a massive 50:50 rejig. If it was 50:50 I'd be less concerned as there would likely be some friends there.

After tomorrow's transition day I'll know more but I know everyone is really annoyed about it.

I just feel we could have been better informed. And I really didn't like the teacher's attitude when I approached her yesterday. I wasn't attacking the decision I was open minded and just said I was curious as to why it was being mixed, but she got very defensive and her face turned red and couldn't get rid of me quick enough.

I've had no problems with the teachers so far this year, they've been lovely but now they seem to be getting quite grumpy with everyone.

PastSellByDate Thu 04-Jul-13 11:52:42

Hi ALBOC:

I'm not clear whether you were asking about mixed year groups (i.e. Y1/ Y2 combined) or swapping form groups (i.e. Y1 Red/ Y1 Orange/ Y1 Yellow pupils are not in the same groups in Y2).

Regardless of which issue this is often done to reflect ability (in essence streaming).

So there may be pupils in Y1 (possibly due to age or other issues - i.e. lack of home support/ slow progress generally/ SEN) who will benefit from continued time at YR/ Y1 level and there may be mainstream Y1 level pupils and Y1 pupils who would benefit from accessing work at Y2 level.

Now swapping forms between Y1 and Y2 - can split up friendship groups and can be relatively upsetting for little ones - but the educational needs also have to be considered here.

i.e. pupils from various Y1 forms who have failed to crack phonetic system/ progressing slowly with reading may really benefit from having Teacher X - who has a brilliant track record of improving reading skills. Now the school (for all sorts of reasons) may not wish to spell this out to parents or children (after all many parents might find it upsetting to learn that school feels DC is struggling - and schools seem really unable to cope with this kind of frank discussion with parents - but the underlying intention - intervening early and improving skills is important. Also school may wish to avoid explicitly stating low - middle - high ability forms).

I suppose the way to look at it is - if your DD was struggling for one or two school years and then started to really improve - would you want her to stay in the remedial group - or would you want the school to progress her up to mainstream and then advanced groups? The reality may be (as friends at multi-form schools have found out) that there will be times for friends to work together - PE/ Music/ Forest School/ etc....

I realise you're upset on the level of friendship - but perhaps your DD or her friends would benefit from a year that helps them if they're struggling or a year that stretches them if they're a high flyer. It's streaming (and you may be for or against this) but sitting through a class where you finish the work in 5 minutes flat and then have to colour, work in 'busy book' or read for another 20 - 30 minutes isn't ideal either (DD1's situation Y5 - and she has previously been that struggling child that needed the 20 - 30 minute to finish work as well - so I can see both sides).

In short - Is school about education for you?

HTH

PastSellByDate Thu 04-Jul-13 11:58:05

PS read the thing about teachers getting grumpy about parental questions on this...

could indicate 1 of 2 things:

HT/ Senior Management group are forcing this new idea upon staff (possibly with some opposition from staff)

or

Staff have decided to go for this for benefit of pupils ultimately and really don't want any opposition from parents.

In my experience - staff getting grumpy usually implies the former rather than latter scenario.

HTH

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Thu 04-Jul-13 12:13:42

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

It is a double form entry. so therefore two classes per year. Dd is in mrs x and Mrs y teaches another class.

some from each are moving to the other for the new school year, each with new teachers obviously.

education is obviously paramount and DD is doing very well academically. i have no concerns so far. she does struggle socially though. she is very shy, hates change and gets very attached to people. new people freak her out. im so proud of how far she has come during her first year and i worry, naturally, that this will mess up everything we've achieved so far in terms of her gaining confidence.

thanks for your responses so far smile

PastSellByDate Thu 04-Jul-13 12:25:28

Hi LovelyBunch:

I suspect then your DD is perhaps doing better than some of her friends and may be separated from them so that they can get the support that they need educationally.

My advice regarding social side of things is to consider letting your DD join clubs at school or outside to develop a circle of friends. This may be a way of continuing friendship group despite not being in the same forms.

DDs has found that school gets more serious as you progress up into juniors so - social time is at breaks, before/ after school & clubs.

HTH

soapboxqueen Thu 04-Jul-13 12:30:09

There will be a reason that they thought it best to mix some of the children up, especially if it hasn't happened in previous years.

More than likely it is either a bullying issue, a clash of personalities or two children with behavioural problems that really can't be in the same room. the school have to take a pragmatic approach about what is best for the whole class which may upset some children in the short term. It may even be that there are some new children coming and they have had to move people about to accommodate them.

I agree that the school should have warned parents if they have previously said that the classes would not be changed for next year. However you could give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that whatever instigated the changes only happened recently.

As for the staff, add pp said this is probably being imposed from above and it's hard getting grief, while defending an idea that you oppose. Especially if you've just done it for the 20th time in half an hourgrin

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Thu 04-Jul-13 12:50:15

soapboxqueen, are you my DD's teacher!? grin

I really do appreciate these viewpoints. I think I've just been a bit too involved and haven't seen it objectively. Of course this has been done for a reason, not just to annoy the parents. I'm sure it'll work out for the best. DD is my PFB (if you hadn't noticed!grin) and I do worry unnecessarily.

She really has done so well settling in FS2 and I'm sure she'll continue to do well. Her new teacher in September doesn't currently work in the school, she will be a new teacher so hopefully she's quite friendly <wibble>

This is all so new and I really am winging it!

pastsellbydate, you're right I think I do need to encourage some extra-curricular activities. I'll see what clubs are on for the Y1s in September.

She is flying through her reading levels and the school are pushing her to do her best which I am pleased with. She has risen to the challenge and is at the upper end of the class for her literacy. Numeracy is taking a while grin

I'll try and look to transition day positively whilst trying to gauge who's in her class and who isn't. I think they also have quite a good transition period, lasting until the end of November, so that'll give us plenty of time to work things out.

PastSellByDate Thu 04-Jul-13 12:57:40

Hi LoveleyBunch:

DDs have always found new teachers (because they tend to be NQT [not qualified teacher] so are trying to prove themselves & put in all sorts of extra time/ care into everything) tend to be the ones who have all sorts of bright ideas, great resources and are good with technology.

All new teachers have turned out to be streets better than the well-established staff.

Be especially kind to these newbies - they tend to work their socks off and a word of praise here and there (when deserved of course) wouldn't go amiss.

soapboxqueen Thu 04-Jul-13 13:28:24

NQT = newly qualified teachergrin

I promise they are qualified.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Thu 04-Jul-13 13:58:19

I was going to say, surely if they are my child's full time teacher they ought to be qualified! grin

She isn't NQT, she's just been teaching at a different school and will be new at our particular school.

PastSellByDate Thu 04-Jul-13 14:09:07

sorry folks - I fear a Freudian slip.

definitely Newly Qualified teacher accruing their 1 year's teaching induction experience.

DeWe Thu 04-Jul-13 14:22:26

I suspect the defensiveness from the teacher is that you're the umteenth person to ask, and several have been aggressive etc.

My dd2 was in the first class to be mixed up at infant school in known history.
I can give the reasons:
The classes were unbalanced in a lot of ways: Personalities, behavioural problems, abilities, personality clashes, and gender. Partually due to who went in which class initially, partually due to leaving/joining all ended up being from one class.

So one class had: A group of about 6 keen hardworking "top" children. Lots of very determined (mostly) girls who were trying to rule the roost.
3 SEN behavioural issues
19 girls, 11 boys
4 children who were really struggling with each other (not bullying, more personality clash)

Other class had:
1 child who was head a shoulders above the others (but about middle of the 6 in the other class)
1 determined girl who ruled the rest of them because none of them stood up to her
no behavioural issues
14 girls, 16 boys

Mixing them with these things in mind, made two much more even classes and meant that it was a nicer for most.

There were complaints. Some very loud aggressive ones. But of the very loud complaints, all (barring one who always complained) by February half term were saying it was great. In fact they were the ones who were pushing for the head to do that every year.
They do call a meeting explaining why they've done it when they do it, so maybe you should be asking for some thing like that.

I don't agree with doing it every year, and personally I think it should be an even mix from classes (in fact ours was exactly split down the middle as much as possible: So Class A had 10 girls, 5 boys from class 1, 7 girls 8 boys from the other etc.)

Periwinkle007 Thu 04-Jul-13 15:47:59

yes ours is an exact half and half split which means noone stands out as being 'the one moved' and if it is half and half then the chances are they will be with at least some of their friends.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Thu 04-Jul-13 17:34:19

Today's pick up has revealed it was the HT's decision.

A friend is having ameeting with him tomorrow.

I do believe it might be a balance issue. There are 3 SN children in DD's class and none in the other, there are a few with behavior issues, one lad has been suspended twice. There is a very bossy girl who will be moving.

So come xmas time im sure we'll all be cheering at it.

ill report back tomorrow grin

AlienAttack Thu 04-Jul-13 18:34:49

My DD's state school (2 form entry) mixes the classes like this every 2 years or so. As others have said, it is to even out abilities, genders, personalities, break up friendships which are not terribly constructive etc etc. we have quite a few children leaving and joining during the year (in SW London with lots of people coming here for work or leaving for 3year postings abroad etc). My DD is year 1 so all the classes are being mixed up for next year. She's quite relaxed, they've each given the teacher names of 3 children they'd like to be with and told they will definitely be with at least one of them. I'm more nervous than she is (hoping she'll be with best friend etc) but saying only positive things to her. Friends with older dC at the school have reassured me that it all works out fine.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Fri 05-Jul-13 12:53:41

After the meeting this morning we found out that this is the first year in five years they've had to do this at reception level as the classes really aren't gelling at all. It's mainly the other class with many problems and clashes of personality so they're spreading everyone out.

The HT answered the qus very well and we're all a bit happier and can see this may well be for the best as they knuckle down and begin to learn in a more structured way than they have been in reception.

I'm excited to pick DD up today and see how her day has been in her new classroom :-)

zingally Sat 06-Jul-13 17:07:32

Classes are mixed for all sorts of reasons, and given to particular teachers for different reasons.

For instance, of the two Year 1 classes in my school, about to be Year 2's - they are not being mixed, but one class is particularly high-energy and quite demanding, so they are being given to the "no nonsense" teacher. The other class are more sensitive and have more SEN issues, so are going to the teacher who has a more "gently, gently" approach.

Magrug Sat 06-Jul-13 17:47:58

Schools don't do this to deliberately open themselves up to flack from parents - I know from your comments that you know that not to be true. There are likely to be very good reasons for this, but often schools cannot share these reasons.

It will be fine; it happens in many schools and usually as a result of seeing how a cohort mix together. Schools don't actually have an obligation to communicate this to parents, although I appreciate that it's helpful when they do. It may have been a last-minute decision based on family circumstances, a new child coming into the school, or any of the reasons mentioned above. Who knows? But the school would have thought it through.

wine

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