FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MIXED AGE CLASSES
HOW WILL TWO YEAR GROUPS BE TAUGHT ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER IN ONE CLASSROOM?
All children develop at different rates. It isn’t automatic that the oldest child in a class will achieve better than the youngest child. Children will be taught to their individual academic needs and not simply to their age. All classes in the school have a large range of maturity and attainment. Teachers will choose work appropriate to the standard a child is working at, ensuring that all needs are catered for. In the majority of lessons, the children will start the session together with the teacher targeting questions at individuals or groups of children at an appropriate level. We refer to this as ‘flexible grouping.’ Children will then be provided with appropriate tasks to consolidate or practise what they have been taught, with the teacher and/or teaching assistant working with children who require additional assistance or who need to be challenged to explore concepts in greater depth or learn something new. On occasion, groups of children may be removed from whole class teaching in order to facilitate this.
HOW WILL TEACHERS PLAN, ENSURING COVERAGE OF BOTH THE YEAR GROUP CURRICULUMS, AND PREVENTING REPETITION OF CONTENT?
With the exception of Maths, English and Science, the curriculum content isn’t split into separate year group content, rather, there is an expectation for the end of the key stage. Subject Leaders have developed a progression of skills for children to work through in each year group. In the case of Maths and English, the two curricula are completely aligned, with the majority of objectives being matched with a similar but slightly trickier objectives for the older year group if appropriate. Ensuring coverage of national curriculum objectives for both year groups in the same classroom will therefore be easily facilitated by normal classroom practice.
HOW WILL WE ENSURE THE HIGHEST ACADEMIC EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL CHILDREN?
Both national and local data for performance of children at the end of KS1 and 2 suggests that being placed in a mixed age classes has no negative impact on children’s academic achievements. This is supported by educational research, with some studies suggesting that children often perform better when placed in classes with a bigger age range. A mixed age classroom means that the children will have greater flexibility to learn with children of their own standard. Children who find aspects of the curriculum more challenging will be supported in the same way they have been in single year classes. Children working above the expected standard will be provided with work which both deepens their understanding and moves them on to explore new concepts. As part of our curriculum, learning will continue to be focussed on explaining reasoning and problem solving both of which extend children’s understanding without them having to access a separate curriculum. Rich texts will be carefully chosen ensuring that they are easy to learn but contain the relevant sentence structures and vocabulary to stretch children at the appropriate level.
HOW WILL WE ENSURE THAT CHILDREN COPE SOCIALLY AND EMOTIONALLY WITH CHANGES IN THEIR CURRENT CLASS STRUCTURES?
Our previous experience of mixed age teaching shows us that children thrive in a mixed age class. Children learn to form wider friendships and relate to broader groups of children, creating a classroom atmosphere where children are enjoined to help others and seek support from their older peers rather than simply relying on adult support.