In a small school like Horspath, mixed year group classes are a way of life. The school has 5 classrooms and 7 year groups with around 20 pupils in each year group. When most of the year groups are full, as they are likely to be for 2016/17, single year group classes are not possible.
Our pupils spend 7 years in the school: moving from their first year in Reception, through 2 years in Key Stage 1(infants) and then 4 years in Key Stage 2 (juniors) before moving onto secondary school.
How does the school work out the class structure each year?
We work out the structure by starting at the top and bottom of the school and then working back into the middle. So we allocate our Year 6s to Willow Class and our Foundation Stage pupils to Acorn class, from there we spread the rest of the year groups out across the available space in each class.
When pupils first join the school they go into Acorn Class, we sometimes call this the Reception year. This class runs the Foundation Stage curriculum, which is very different to the curriculum across the rest of the school. In the past Acorn class has run as a mixed class of Reception pupils and the youngest Year 1 pupils but this hasn’t happened for the past few years. At the end of their Reception year pupils move into Year 1 in Beech Class.
Next, we look at the top end of the school by allocating all the Year 6 pupils to the eldest class (Willow) which leaves spaces for some of the Year 5 pupils. Then we go back to the younger pupils to allocate all of the Year 1 pupils to the youngest Key Stage 1 class (Beech)
which leaves spaces for some of the youngest Year 2 pupils to also be part of Beech Class. The older Years 2s, all of the Year 3s and 4s and the youngest of the Year 5s are then split between Lime Class and Oak Class.
Key Stage 1 classes are generally limited to 30 pupils, the rule does not apply to Key Stage 2 classes where pupils are generally more independent and require less adult support in their lessons.
How does the school decide which children should go into each class?
We put all of the pupils into a list based on their date of birth. We then work our way down through the list and allocate the children to classes as we go until we are happy that there is a good balance of class sizes. The allocation is largely based on each pupil’s age, not on their ability.
The exact size of each year group varies from year to year which determines where the split for each class is made.
When are children and parents told about their new classes?
We understand that pupils and their parents want to know about their new class as soon as possible. Admissions for each year group are finalised in mid-June, at which time we work out who will be in each class and let everyone know in time for Move Up Day at the beginning of July.
Will my child make progress if they are in a class with younger pupils?
Pupils who remain in the same class for more than one year are not taught the same things over again, nor do we have any different expectations for them in terms of their academic progress and attainment. We assess the progress of pupils against the national expectations of pupils in each year group, irrespective of which class they are in. We know from analysing several years of data that pupils who in the same year group but in different classes make the same progress in younger and older classes. So for example, we know that in general, pupils in Year 2 in Beech Class make the same academic progress as pupils in Year 2 in Lime Class.
There is always a wide spread of children’s ability in every class and teachers focus on what each child knows, what they can already do and what they need to be taught next.
Will staying in the same class affect my child’s confidence?
Children can be disappointed that they are staying in the same class without some of their friends but there are advantages too. Pupils who are the youngest in their year often grow in confidence when they become one of the eldest in the class. They can show the new children in the class how things are done and become role models for them. They learn to make new friends and still play with their old friends at playtimes and lunchtimes.
If my child stays in a younger class will they move to secondary school at the same time as their friends?
Yes they will. Pupils move to secondary education at the end of Year 6, irrespective of which classes they are in, or have been in, during their time at primary school. At our school Year 6s always spend their final year of primary school together in Willow Class.
Does the class structure change from year to year?
The structure does change a little from year to year depending on the number of pupils in each year group. Year 2 and Year 5 are usually split and, as our pupil numbers have risen over the last few years, Year 3 has been split as well.
How does the school decide which teachers and teaching assistants will be in each class?
This decision is based on a combination of each teacher’s experience and skills. Some teachers are more suited to teaching older or younger pupils and some teachers have developed a specialism in certain year groups or key stages. If teachers move from teaching a younger class to an older class it is inevitable in a small school like ours that they will be teaching the same children for several years.
Teaching Assistants are also placed in classes where their skills and experience are best suited. The number of hours of teaching assistant support allocated to each class depends on the age of the class and any specific needs of the pupils in the class.
If you have any further questions please let us know.