At Scholes (Elmet) Primary, our intake each year has been 40; this recently increased slightly to 45. The small increase actually benefited in many ways, the biggest benefit being that we could re-organise classes so they avoid crossing over important key stages, such as a Reception/Year 1 mix and a Year 2/Year 3 mix.
We’ve had mixed age classes for over 20 years. We’re really experienced at planning for mixed age classes, and we feel that they can actually benefit all children’s learning in most subjects.
However, the new Maths curriculum lends itself naturally to single-aged year groups. Schools across Leeds are finding that mixed age classes in Maths curriculum challenging to plan for. This is because some learning objectives are quite different – far more than in other subjects. (In fact, the National Curriculum for Reading and Writing is planned around the phases we have at school: Y3,4 expectations are set out together, for example.)
Because of the difficulties in Maths, we are adopting a new system as a trial for the rest of this year. We have recruited an excellent teacher with lots of experience, especially in Maths, to act as a fourth teacher within each Key Stage 2 phase for Maths. This means that we will have two (mixed ability) Maths classes in Year 3, in Year 4, in Year 5 and in Year 6.
The new Maths groups will mean class groups for maths will be smaller. This might provide added benefits including pupil feedback on how they’re learning can be enhanced. Research shows this can have a positive impact on progress.
This is an initiative that we are going to monitor closely for the rest of the year. It’s not a guaranteed long term solution (especially when school budgets are ever-decreasing), but it’s something we want to try out to keep getting better.
The new groups begin on Monday 30 October.