Class Mixing at West Wycombe School
At West Wycombe School, we combine classes for Reception and Year 1, as well as Year 3 and 4.
The team have worked exceptionally hard to create rolling programmes (essentially a curriculum that runs over two years) and we have seen huge success in the delivery of these rolling programmes.
What is a Mixed Age Class?
A mixed age class is a class in which there are children who are from more than one-year group within the same classroom. In most cases, a mixed age class will comprise of pupils from the same Key Stage (Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2).
In all classes, whether mixed age or not, there is a wide range of ability and ensuring every child in every class makes accelerated progress is what we do every day.
At West Wycombe School, our teachers always ensure that:
Children are not labelled according to ability
Our classroom practice allows pupils to take pride in their abilities as individuals, giving them constant motivation to improve
The pace of learning is individualised
Our children are viewed as unique individuals where we concentrate on what children can do, rather than what they can’t do. Our teachers focus on teaching each child according to his or her own strengths
There is challenge for all pupils at their own pace
Children develop a sense of family with their classmates
What are the Benefits of Mixed Age Classes?
Research evidences that mixed-age classrooms are beneficial for young children’s development. Not only do children out-perform peers of the same age academically, studies also show that they thrive socially and emotionally.
Mixed-age classrooms generate a family of learners who support and care for one another. Older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and take leadership roles. These children model more sophisticated approaches to problem solving, helping younger children to accomplish tasks they would not be able to do independently whilst completing their own learning. This dynamic increases the older child’s level of independence and competence while increasing the younger child’s spirit of belonging in a community of learners. Held back
Younger children will have the opportunity to extend their learning and increase their vocabulary whilst working alongside older children.
Mixed year classrooms are both socially and psychologically healthy because they promote friendship and provide extended contact with adults and peers of varying ages. Children in these classes therefore show a notable increase in self-esteem.
How do Mixed Classes Work at West Wycombe School?
At West Wycombe, our highly skilled teachers tailor the learning for each individual child rather than setting the same pace for the whole group. Our model allows children who are ready for the next challenge to advance without becoming bored. It also provides children needing extra time the opportunity to learn at their own pace without feeling rushed or pressured to move on prematurely.
Reception/ Year 1
Mrs Carty is really looking forward to teaching a reception and Year 1 class next year, having taught both years previously. They have phonics groups across Reception, Year 1 and 2 that meet the children’s needs. Maths will be taught daily, with a starter to engage the early years children before they go learn in the continuous provision and the Year 1 children will stay with the teacher to complete a development task. In English, they work on a class story or book to develop our inference skills and base our writing. There is an activity for all children to complete, for example suggesting adjectives to describe a character.
Year 3/ 4
The curriculum in Year 3 and 4 is suited to the needs of all children. Maths is a subject that is taught as a separate session, although there are minor differences between the two-year groups. Both year groups are challenged within Maths and targeted support is also given. Our English curriculum is centred around a book, a Lower Key Stage 2 book. Writing outcomes are also slightly different, enabling the teacher to pinpoint lessons which have a clear focus and a given success criteria. The curriculum enables both year groups to be supported and flourish academically.
Our mixed age classes follow a two-year rolling programme of study. The rolling programmes have been developed to create a broad and balanced curriculum over a two-year period. National Curriculum content for children from both years within the key stage has been carefully considered to ensure that the progression of skills is clear.
Science: We provide a rich Science curriculum that runs throughout both years, providing children with numerous opportunities to develop their skills in working scientifically throughout. To ensure the progression of skills within the National Curriculum is strongly embedded, we split the mixed classes into separate year groups in Key Stage 1. We are incredibly fortunate to have excellent staff to enable this to happen. This ensures that children do not repeat units and the progression of skills is clear. Children learn and develop as Scientists.
English: We ensure that the children have an opportunity to write for a variety of purposes and forms. Oracy underpins the English Curriculum and builds the speech and vocabulary that will create confident writers. We ensure that the Key texts incorporate a rich understanding of language, both within fiction and non-fiction. In addition, we are constantly looking for new ideas and responding to the children’s suggestions to broaden the range of texts used. The children have weekly guided reading sessions and independent reading continues as often as possible. A separate Punctuation and Grammar, Spelling and Phonics Yearly Outline is used. This is important to ensure gaps are highlighted and the progression is clear. We also use a handwriting scheme which will ensure progress throughout the school.
Maths: Maths sessions are highly differentiated and scaffolded to reflect the National Curriculum for both year groups and we have a mixture of directed and independently chosen tasks depending on the unit and point of study.
The Foundation Subjects
These subjects are not separated into the different year groups as the National Curriculum statements reflects the Key Stage as a whole. The foundation subjects underpin the topics each term. We ensure that differentiation is clear, and a progression of skills is highlighted throughout each subject. To ensure subjects are embedded we split them across the year; for example, Autumn Term 1 may focus on History and Art and Autumn Term 2 may focus on Geography and Design Technology. This ensures all the National Curriculum statements are met and the children have a secure understanding.
Our teachers spend a considerable amount of time revisiting and amending our programmes of study to ensure the National Curriculum for both years is soundly embedded and mirrors the needs and interests of our children. We aim to provide challenge and success for all our pupils. Assessment for Learning is vital to ensure that the children are progressing well, and gaps are not missed. This may mean that some weeks change slightly to support the children’s learning. An effective Curriculum should always ensure flexibility and room for change that reflects the children’s needs whilst encouraging high standards and excellent progress.
Essentially, our approach to mixed age teaching will reflect the best practice already in place at West Wycombe School; we hope you agree that this will certainly prove to be a resounding success.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my child in Year 1 or Year 4 be held back?
No- the curriculum is planned and developed so that they meet their objectives and the curriculum is thoroughly covered. Challenge is a key area for our Teaching and Learning; all children must be challenged significantly in all lessons. This aligns with our Growth Mindset ethos.
Why not mix other year groups?
Mixing Year 4 and 5 is difficult as the curriculum objectives are for Lower and Upper Key Stage 2 and more challenging to mix. Also, as part of our two year rolling programme, they may miss important aspects of the curriculum.