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Pro's and Con's of split/composite classes in early primary
Pleasee tell me your thoughts.


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#1 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:14 PM

First up, I am very happy with DD's school so far (after 1 year) so I will not be going in and complaining, wanting changes or in any other way making waves for them.  I will be happy with whatever they decide is best for my DD and her classmates. wink.gif

So, we will find out tomorrow/Wednesday all the kids classes for next year.  DD is in her first year of full time school, going into Year 1 next year.  We have been told there will be 2 straight year one classes, and one year 1/year 2 split.

So, how would you feel?  What have you found with these split classes?

DD is very outgoing, confident, almost precocious.  She is very intelligent, but I wouldn't say gifted.  Also has very short attention span, and not much attention to detail, so not a brilliant concentrator (At this stage, she's only 5).  I wouldn't say that she was a good "self-directed learner", but she is very different at school than she is at home, and much better behaved.  For example, she is fantastic at reading, because she loves it, but not so interested in writing, and is very messy, because it's "boring".  (Much like I was, to be honest rolleyes.gif ).

I'm not a pushy mum, and as I said, I will be happy with whatever the school decides - both class wise and teacher.  I am also not necessarily interested in the best academic outcomes, because we can help a lot at home with reading and writing etc. Things like emotional development, playground and social etiquette, self-esteem, etc are more important to me at this stage of schooling - and the building blocks for future learning.

Any comments on any of the above would be appreciated.  What sort of kids do well, get left behind?  How do the teachers manage the disparity in age and educational needs?  Anything?



#2 ~TSC~

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:29 PM

I was in composite classes for a large part of my primary schooling being in the lower year in all instances.  I loved it.

DD1 will be in a prep/1 class - they are all composite.  I am very very pleased.  She is in prep, but I know she will love being with older kids and being challenged.  I am slightly concerned about grade 1 being composite with prep when she is in grade 1 - but time will tell.



#3 Guest_CaptainOblivious_*

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:30 PM

I was in composites for nearly every year in primary school and loved it.

In particular, I liked being able to socialise with others slightly older or younger rather than only the kids in my grade. I liked the challenge of the harder work when I was in the younger grade I also liked being able to do a bit of mentoring (not that I would have thought of it in those terms) when I was in the older grade.

If she's bright, she may do better with more of a challenge. If she's already easily distracted, having work that isn't challenging for her may make her more prone to naughtyness out of boredom.

I'm not sure how much more disparity in educational needs there would really be. They tend to pick the kids who are going into the composite carefully so they are able to be integrated without too much extra fuss.  In a normal classroom there are often strugglers, plus bright kids so teachers are all pretty much up on managing that anyway IMO.

TSC - I was in a K-1 composite in Kindergarten and it was great. We did heaps more interesting stuff than the 'babies' in the straight K and we thought we were sh*thot as a result wink.gif

It comes down to the teacher more than the composite in my mind.  If it was a good teacher who I had confidence in, I would be happy. If it was a crappy teacher, I'd be unhappy.

Edited by CaptainOblivious, 14 December 2009 - 07:31 PM.


#4 andieinvic

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:41 PM

I found dd did really well as a preppy in a prep/1 composite.  But she stalled as a grade 1 in a prep/1 class.  She's a bright kid, and I felt the grade 1 children really didn't get the stimulation/challenge they required.  Especialy the first part of the year, whilst the teacher was settling in the new prep children, I think the grade 1 kids were just expected to do a lot of worksheets.  And during group time the teacher had to keep the level even enough for the preppies to understand and contribute.  

We've since moved schools (not for this reason, we relocated) and dd has found the straight year 1 class she is in very challenging.  She had gaps in her maths (couldn't tell time) but has gone on to do very well.  So I guess I'd be happy for a composite only when dd is in the younger class.

#5 lucylou98

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:45 PM

DD1 was in a 1/2 this year with 9 year ones and the rest year two. The only negative has been that the other year one kids tended to stick to their own classes. This meant that the four year one girls (my DD included) really only played with each other. Luckily they all get on most of the time! Academically she was probably pushed which is not a bad thing as she seemed to be able to handle the challenge of working with older children.

#6 Guest_BBlessed_*

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:46 PM

Noah has been at school for 2 years, both time in a composite class.
First year he was Preppy in P/1, and this year he was Gr 1 in a P/1 class. It's been great for him both ways.

As the younger child in the composite class, it motivated him to try harder. There were always boys in higher reading levels that especially motivated him, because he saw some of the books he'd be able to read when he reached that next level! It also meant the joint classwork was more challenging, and he didn't get bored because there was always another whole grade level to get up to!

As the older child in the class this year, with only 4 x Gr 1ers and the other 18 or 19 all in Prep, it has done absolute wonders for his confidence. He is still right on target academically - goes to the next classroom for readers etc, but his self esteem has really been boosted. It's been a great year for his social development, and also behaviourally as he was challenged to model appropriate behaviour for the Preppies. He took this "leadership" role in his stride and really worked hard to "teach" the Preppies how things were done.

He's made some great friends both in his own grade and the grade below him now - and his confidence is at a stage where I think he could go down a peg or 2 and not feel it, lol!


#7 justthegirls

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:47 PM

I also attended a 'multi age' school where all classes were composite, and I also loved it.  It gave me the chance to do the activities at a higher level and challenge me more.

The school that I went to had mostly 3 levels together so 1/2/3.

My brother however went right through and slipped through the cracks.  He's not very academically minded and as such was always put in the upper class, though doing the lower class's work (barely).  In year 7 he was in a 5/6/7 class, still doing year 5 work, so he started high school at the same level as a 10 year old.  

I think as long as you stay in tune with what your DD's doing at school, and helping at the first sign of any struggling, it can be a very positive experience.

#8 chloemo

Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:52 PM

I was in a composite in year six it sucked, my teacher was the choir and sports teacher as well,
she didnt seem to care about us,   I cant remember being taught much from her.
So it could also depend if they get a good teacher,
I remember wanting her and she was teaching the year 5 kids this happened alot.

#9 Indi

Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:44 AM

Our entire school is multi-age (as are most in this area) so it is not something I can avoid.  If the school is committed to making it work, it will.  Too many people believe the kids selected to be in the older year level are those who are behind academically, hence the stigma associated with composites.

BBlessed's post clearly outlines the benefits for both the younger and older level in what is obviously a well run multi-age classroom.

#10 foofie

Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:52 AM

DS has absolutely thrived this year in a composite Kinder/1 class and is more than likely to go into another composite next year.  
QUOTE
I think as long as you stay in tune with what your DD's doing at school, and helping at the first sign of any struggling, it can be a very positive experience.

Agree with this!

#11 mumto3princesses

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:15 PM

To be honest I was disappointed when I found out our school does composite classes. I knew they did them when they needed to make up numbers but then I also found out that for years 3/4 and 5/6 they are always composite classes.

But then someone explained it all to me and DD1 has had 3 years in a composite so far and I don't mind it at all. DD3 started Kindergarten this year in a K/1 composite. It was no different for DD3 than it was for DD2 (her twin) in a straight Kindergarten class. Well, no different than it would be having different teachers anyway.

I do know the Year 1 kids did different things (from what DD3 told me), didn't go on the Kindy excursions and did go on the Year 1 excursions with the other Year 1's. So they didn't miss out either. Basically whether it is a straight class or a composite the kids aren't going to be at the same level for anything. Some will be reading or doing maths or writing at a higher level, some will struggle and others will be anywhere in between. They will all vary and they get taught to their ability.

They have to cover certain topics over the years. In NSW Kindergarten = early stage 1, Years 1 & 2 = stage 1, Years 3 & 4 = stage 2 and Years 5 & 6 = stage 3. Basically, for the different stages they cover what they need to over a 2 year period. For example they will cover parliament etc and go on an excursion but some kids will be in Year 5 while others will be in Year 6.



#12 Lia

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:27 PM

We have just been informed that our school is going composite classes. Not happy. The reason we chose this school initially was because they didnt do it rant.gif

I can understand how it might benefit a grade 1 in a Gr1/2 they would be dragged up , but I dont see the benefit for the Gr2 - I can only see them being dragged down.

#13 ~JASB~

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:32 PM

My kids are in a multi-age school and we LOVE it original.gif  Every classroom in the school is multi-age, with the exception of one prep room which is straight prep.  BBlessed has explained it well.

DS1 was in year 3 this year and at first I was disappointed to find out there weren't any 3/4 classes and he'd have to stay in a 2/3.  His school work is well above average but the advantage was he was staying with the same teachers he'd had for year 2 - so they knew where he was at, and he was still pushed ahead at his own level anyway.  He also enjoyed the leadership role this year as BBlessed has mentioned above so there were advantages of him being in the "older" grade in the class even though he excels with his school work.  DS2 was in prep this year in a P/1, and he'll stay in that class next year for year 1.  I'm more than happy for him to stay in that class too.

As long as it's done properly, I think it's brilliant, and I can't imagine my kids going to a regular school now where they'd only be with their own year level original.gif


#14 Ianthe

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:37 PM

My eldest was in a few composite classes and he always thrived in them, whether he was in the lower or higher grade. It never affected him adversely.

#15 TheClampetts

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:46 PM

My son attends a small school so it is likely that at least every 2nd year he may be placed in a composite class.

I have a sneaking suspicion that next year he will be in one.  I have no experience so therefore will be taking a suck and see approach, what else can I do?

I am not too worried at this stage because in his year 1 class he was in a small group who did a lot of peer teaching iykwim.  So based on that I am making an assumption that he will be in the composite class.  I am sure though that when deciding on classes teachers take into consideration your childs behaviour, character,  learning styles etc  or at least I hope they do.

#16 dragonfly31981

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:51 PM

OP, as a teacher, can I say that there is nothing wrong with the idea of a composite class. While you think of school as being broken up into years, the DET and teachers do not. Schooling is divided into stages. Years kindergarten, One and Two are grouped together and called Stage 1. That means that the kids in these years are working towards the same outcomes and will not be expected to achieve these outcomes until the end of Year Two. So, your child is likely to get the support in the areas needed (to achieve the outcomes) AND be able to be pushed ahead in the areas they excel at!

We, as teachers are experienced at working with students of differing ability. Firstly, we know the outcomes. Secondly, we understand how to assess students ability and to assist them achieve their best. Thirdly, you may not be aware, but at various stages, we actually teach DIFFERENT outcomes/stages cocurrently. This is the case in Year Seven, where kids need not achieve the outcomes of Stage 3 (5 &6) to attempt Stage 4. Remember, you are talking about kids that are all working towards the same outcomes!

#17 KT1978

Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:56 PM

I think you have to keep in mind that within the one class you already can have up to 18 months age gap and differing abilities.  When DD started school she was nearly 6 and very mature... other in her class were 4.. BIG differences in ability and emotional maturity from the start.

I think when it is done right, composite classes can work very effectively.  I am especially happy for our daughter, who is bright (not gifted) and one of the older kids in her class to be in with the older kids (who are mostly only a few months older because she was an August baby).  It keeps her interested.



#18 Rock of Empathy

Posted 15 December 2009 - 02:28 PM

I was hoping that when DS2 starts school next year he would be placed in the Prep/1 composite class for various reasons but unfortunately he was not.

The teacher at our school who runs that class is a brilliant teacher who manages the composite class beautifully. I also hoped it would give DS a smaller friendship base to work with as he a bit anxious about starting school.

I have no problem with composite classes when they are run by an experienced teacher who is able to cater for all ages.

#19 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 15 December 2009 - 02:45 PM

Thanks everyone- you have really put my mind at ease.  I am almost hoping she will get into the composite class!

I don't think she will however, as she is one of the youngest in the group, not very focussed, definitely not a good independant worker, etc etc etc.  I will be totally happy either way though - thanks to most of you. biggrin.gif

(Can't wait to hear the usual playground whinging though rolleyes.gif  - I bet the principal and teachers hate giving out the class lists at the end of term).

#20 ~JASB~

Posted 15 December 2009 - 06:55 PM

LOL, that's great that you're now feeling positive about the idea original.gif

QUOTE
QUOTE (Ruffles @ 15/12/2009, 02:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

(Can't wait to hear the usual playground whinging though rolleyes.gif  - I bet the principal and teachers hate giving out the class lists at the end of term).

Yes it would be an awful job wouldn't it?  At our school they even let us put in 'class requests' at the end of the year, but of course you aren't guaranteed to get the class you want.  I've been lucky so far up until this year - DS1 didn't get the class I wanted for next year.  In fact he's in the one class I didn't want rolleyes.gif  But nothing I can do about it, I'm certainly not running to the school whinging like some people do.  I was really upset about it when I found out (our class lists come out in last week of term), but I've decided to go into it with positive thoughts now, and hope that I was wrong about this class and that all turns out ok!



#21 Blish

Posted 15 December 2009 - 07:48 PM

My teenage son always worked at the lower level of the composite class, so if in a 3/4 he did Grade 3 work (even when he was in Grade 4).

I don't like them and just found out my second son will be in a composite class next year.

#22 ~pink~diamond~

Posted 15 December 2009 - 08:33 PM

Our boys school has composite classes for all classes but prep. It seems to be going ok at the moment and I do really love the school environment.

#23 *TFBT*

Posted 15 December 2009 - 08:36 PM

Both my kids will be in composite classes next year. DS#1 is in year 2 and it will be a 2/3/4/6 (no year 5s at the school) and DS#2 will be in Kindy in a K/1 class. Im not happy with the 2/3/4/6, but in a school of only 40 kids where you dont have the numbers for a 3rd teacher, what can you do? There will only be 18 kids in the class, so its far less than any other public school classroom anywhere else that usually have 30 kids.

#24 ~JASB~

Posted 15 December 2009 - 08:54 PM

QUOTE
its far less than any other public school classroom anywhere else that usually have 30 kids

I don't think 30 kids would be very common?  Not in my experience anyway.  More like 22-25.



#25 Guest_GrubleSprot_*

Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:07 PM

This is a reply from a while ago, in another post.  My stance hasn't changed...


I profess to be no expert.

My eldest DD was put in a composite class last year. I had no concerns, just like you OP - but then people started getting in my ear.

So I rang around a few teachers that I knew, to gauge an opinion. There were so many reasons why it could have been that way. There *had* to be a K/1 composite, due to the numbers... but why was *my* child chosen?

Well, after getting no clear cut answers I went to her teacher and just straight out asked.

The reasoning behind my DD being in there, was that we is adaptable, helpful, and interacted well with others. She was one of the children she felt would "cope" well with it.

Looking back on that year, she did fantasically. In all honesty, it comes back to the ability of the teacher.

DD's Teacher last year was fantastic, she did the composite so well.

I wouldn't be concerned op.




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