Mixed-Age Class Teaching
In September 2020, Years 1 and 2 became our first mixed class. The team have worked exceptionally hard to create new rolling programmes (essentially a curriculum that runs over two years) and we were proud to receive feedback from the Great Learners Trust that they are amongst the best they have seen!
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).
How are the classes structured at Great Kimble School?
At Great Kimble School we have the following class structures:
- Reception – currently in place
- Year 1 and Year 2 (KS1) – currently in place
- Year 3 and Year 4 (LKS2) – currently in place
- Year 5 and 6 (KS2) – in place from September 2022
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 Great Kimble, 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. 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 Great Kimble School?
At Great Kimble, 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.
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 for some topics, especially 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. In Phonics we ensure that topics are split according to ability and knowledge, not simply through age. It 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: We use the ‘White Rose’ maths units to underpin our blocks throughout the year. White Rose aims to ensure children work towards mastery where reasoning and thinking skills are key. At Great Kimble we use these units as a starting point but create activities that reflect the needs of our children. 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. Specific topics may be taught separately e.g. In Year 3 and 4 when decimals are introduced to Year 4.
RE: We have worked together with the Oxford Diocese to create a strong RE rolling programme which incorporates our Christian Values and strong school ethos.
RSE (Relationships and Sex Education): As is evident in our long term overview many topics in PSHE benefit from a breadth of ages and are taught in their mixed classes. There are specific elements in the RSE curriculum, especially in Upper Key Stage 2, where children are split for teaching. More information about topics can be found on the RSE page of this website.
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 Great Kimble; we hope you agree that this will certainly prove to be a resounding success.