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Information About Mixed Classes

 

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pangbourne parent info mixed age classes v2.pdf

 

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Information About Mixed Classes

Mixed classes at Pangbourne Primary School        

                    

 

The number of pupils in our year groups fluctuates over time, based on the needs of our community.  For the year 2024-2025 we will be running mixed classes across the school. 

Below are some answers to 'frequently asked questions' by parents about this.  

 

Why and how has the decision to mix year groups been made?

  • Every year we review the numbers in each year group, as well as the individual needs of pupils in the group, the staffing and the classes we have. We then model different scenarios for the year, and the following years, and discuss this with Governors.  We consider the needs of the year groups alongside the budgetary implications of the different scenarios.
  • We have to consider the best ways to meet the needs of all of the year groups.  There is never one simple answer but a key factor is that we do not prioritise the needs of one year group above the needs of another.

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Why do mixed classes happen in different year groups at different times?

  • This is because of the fluctuating numbers over time that we have coming to Pangbourne.
  • Planning and preparation is the same for all staff in the team and can be better shared out.
  • Children have a great opportunity to build independence in their learning. In this way, children do not always rely on adult support to access a task and become more confident independent learners
  • Children benefit in many ways from the opportunity to become an ‘expert’ for the younger children and a positive role model which the younger children often aspire to.
  • Mixed grouping allows for a wider range of vocabulary to be taught and children to learn stronger social and verbal competences.
  • There can be a greater sense of co-operation and opportunities to work with a wider circle of peers and opportunities to build friendships from across different year group

 

How will the situation be monitored?

  • Teachers regularly assess pupils. Where pupils need extra help we work on ways to support this. This could be in class or through intervention groups. This is the same whether within a mixed or single year class.
  • Members of the Leadership Team frequently monitor lessons and books, and this includes observations of lessons.
  • We hold Pupil Progress Meetings which focus on monitoring assessment information and ensuring that pupils are making the progress we expect based on their previous attainment. Information from these meetings is shared with Governors as part of their monitoring role.

 

How will the pupils be chosen for the classes?

Children will be put into classes according to age. There will however be some times when children with similar attainment might be grouped across classes for numeracy and literacy.

 

Children’s feelings

 

How do children feel moving into a mixed class?

  • Moving classes can create a feeling of anxiety in some children.
  • Parents can help greatly by acknowledging that nerves are normal and helping children to think about times they have experienced change and the good things that have followed it.
  • If a pupil is very anxious then the school can give extra support with this. Please email your child's current class teacher to discuss it, or contact the office.

 

How do the younger children feel in a mixed class? Do they feel they are behind & compare themselves to the older children?

  • In our experience, pupils are aware that there are differences between their own skills in all areas of life, as it is natural to compare ourselves to others.  Staff will support pupils to deal with these feelings, they will explain that each year group has different expectations and different work to do.
  • Children are given specific age-appropriate outcomes for lessons so that they are clear about what they need to achieve.
  • Expectations for children are often different and this is not always solely linked to age.  Not every child is working at their age expectation. Lessons and activities are differentiated for all classes – mixed year group or not.

 

How do the older children feel in a mixed class?

  • Most enjoy the mix and children carve out their own friendship groups – sometimes they sit in mixed age and sometimes with children from their own year group.
  • In lessons, children understand that their work is another ‘step on’ and need to achieve specific objectives.

  

Will pupils’ emotional needs be picked up, and pupils nurtured in a mixed class?

  • Emotional needs are picked up in all the usual ways and the other children are often able to pass on the benefit of experience in class discussions.
  • We have a strong pastoral approach in school and work with all pupils on this through daily interactions and specific Personal and Social lessons.
  • There are a number of children in school with complex or high-level emotional needs and we work with children and families, in different ways, in order to help support the pupils.
  • At the end of the academic year classes/ staffing reviewed.

  

Do the pupils in mixed classes get on well?

  • It is normal for friendships to emerge and develop and all classes. Pupils tend to find their own social groups. A key focus for education at Pangbourne Primary is supporting pupils to learn to develop strong personal and social skills.  In our experience of behaviour, we have found no significant differences between pupils in the mixed or single year groups.     
  • In all classes though, pupils tend to work in small groups which are based more on academic need than friendships. This also helps pupils get to know other people.  

 

Learning and the curriculum

 

Will the separate year group curriculums be covered?

  • At Pangbourne we plan and teach the wider curriculum (eg science, history, art) lessons as a 2 (KS1) and 4 (KS2) year cycle across the school to accommodate mixed class teaching.  We ensure that all areas of the National Curriculum are taught across the correct phase (Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2, Upper Key Stage 2). This means that, for example, some children will learn about “The Great Fire of London” in Year 1 and some will learn about it in where they are in Year 2.
  • We are using the ActiveLearn mixed-age planning materials for Maths which means that pupils in the class all learn about the same concept at the same time, but are taught the appropriate content for their year group.
  • For the first 2 terms to support the change to mixed age classes we have been able to arrange support in KS2 so that Maths and English can be taught as separate year groups (Mon- Thurs)

 

How do lessons work in a mixed class

  • Most lessons take place as a whole class although staff plan creatively so that pupils are taught what they are needed in the way that will help them learn best.
  • Sometimes teachers teach one year group at a time for short periods within a lesson, while the others do an activity led by the Teaching Assistant (TA) or work independently.  This is how all classes at school work, but this can happen more in the mixed class.  
  • Teachers plan activities to ensure that the same children aren’t always working with the adult or independently.
  • Staff ‘differentiate’ activities which means that pupils have slightly different tasks, or more support or challenge, to ensure that pupils practice the skills that they need to move on at their level.  This is the same in all classes, mixed or not.
  • Discussion groups are sometimes run in year groups but not always –  it depends on the nature/subject of the discussion.

 

How will pupils be sat in classes?

  • At Pangbourne teachers set up their classrooms in the way that best facilitates learning for their classes.  Some prefer tables in rows, others prefer tables in groups.
  • In most lessons, pupils sit in a specified place, eg year group tables or with others working on the same task.  For other lessons, where appropriate, pupils can be given the choice of where to sit.

 

How will spellings work?

  • Spellings are chosen by the teaching team from a master list of words for each year group. 
  • Children will be tested on their own spelling list.

 

How will you ensure that pupils don’t repeat work they have already done?

  • The curriculum content will be different from last year, as we plan on a 2/4 year cycle.
  • Where the National Curriculum gives single year group objectives, these will be covered by the correct year group.

 Benefits from mixed-age classes

The benefit of mixed-age classes is the opportunities children have to build diverse and healthy relationships with children of different ages. Giving older learners the chance to support younger learners builds their confidence and leadership skills. The younger learners also benefit as they see their older peers modelling positive behaviour. Younger children in mixed-age classes also benefit from a broader range of pedagogical approaches, such as cooperative learning between older and younger children, fewer limits on learning by assumed ability, more independent learning and more teacher flexibility toward individual needs.