What happens when your child goes into a mixed age class?
The children make good progress, have individual attention, maintain friendships, make other friendships, play together, work together in smaller classes and experience another year group. They all access the correct curriculum for their year group, age and stage of development, although the pathways to the same learning will be different according to the class teacher, resources and needs of the pupils in the classes. For example: a year 4 child in a year 4 and 5 mixed class will be taught the year 4 curriculum, whilst a year 5 pupil in a mixed year 4 and 5 class will be taught the year 5 curriculum.
Children are not kept down or held back and they definitively do not miss out. Just as children reach all their baby milestones at different rates, so too their stages of their learning journey will progress differently as they move through the school. The most important factor is how they complete that learning journey by the time they finish year 6.
What are the benefits to mixed age teaching?
There are many proven benefits to mixed age teaching, such as:
At Mawnan School we split our Year 1 and Year 4 cohorts over two classes. The Year 1 children will either learn in Oppie Class alongside the EYFS children or in Topper Class alongside the Year 2 children. The Year 4 children will either learn in Pico Class alongside the Year 3 children or in Fusion Class alongside the Year 5 children.
The numbers make some difference, and the ability of the child makes some difference but the key factor really is confidence. If a child is able but lacks confidence then being in a class with far older children who appear to be able to do far more can be detreimental to confidence. They might do far better in a class where they are role model and are setting the standards.
Equally a child who enjoys the challenge and struggle of learning and has lots of confidence could find being the oldest in a class of children who are still acquiring the earlier skills and knowledge difficult.
What are the teachers’ responsibilities when teaching mixed age classes?
All teachers are responsible for the individual development of every child in their class. Mixed year group classes do not change this responsibility. At Mawnan, there is already a wide range of needs within each class and year group and the teachers are already proficient at adapting the curriculum to meet the pupils’ individual needs across the curriculum.
In mixed year group classes the teachers take the objectives and plan a programme of study to teach these objectives effectively across the ability range of the class. At times pupils will work at the same tasks but at different levels of ability and at other times the pupils will do completely different work specific to their needs within that area of learning. At all times the teacher is finding out about each individual child’s abilities and is planning and evaluating accordingly in terms of the differentiated outcomes of the tasks the teacher is asking the children to perform.