Thursday, 18 June 2015

The New Classes and Feeling Happy

Yesterday I was feeling pretty nervous as the kids headed in to school to find out which class they would be going in to next term. The kids were excited however I think Z may have been feeling a bit anxious about whether he'd be staying with his friends or not. Over his school life so far, Z has faced some times where he's been separated from his friends and, although he saw them in the playground and they maintained very strong friendships, there is something about having your best friends in the same class as you. You have that ally, someone you can always turn to and don't have to try and find in a sea of children at break or lunch time.

I picked the children up at 3pm. Miss C came out first and looked really pleased. She told me she loved her new teacher and couldn't wait to go to her new class. Her teacher is really nice; I've met her once before and other parents rave about her so I was delighted. She's staying with her current class which I think is lovely. Back in our day, you pretty much stayed with your class throughout primary school and it was only when we got to high school that we were separated a bit.

Z came out with his best friends. He didn't look too pleased and I was expecting the worst. He came up to me and he told me he was in the same class as his friends but they were going to the composite class.

Composite classes...I have quite a bit of experience with them, I think, given that Z has done two composite classes in his three years at school. The first one, a P1/2 was by choice; I asked for him to go there and his nursery teacher also agreed that he should go in to that class so he could work with the P2s. Towards the end of that year, with Z doing incredibly well academically and having built really strong friendships, I asked if they would consider moving him to P3 with his friends. They wouldn't entertain it so we compromised and he went to a P2/3 so he could continue to work at the level he'd been working at for his first year in school. Sadly, his friends weren't going to the same class but he did see them at play time and made some new friends as well.

Two years of composite classes and I'd had enough. I felt his P2/3 class was a real hindrance for Z in that he was finishing his work too quickly, he wasn't being challenged and therefore he got bored and started to become disruptive. He wasn't a badly behaved child, just a chatty child so he would distract others from doing their work. I didn't think that was fair to Z or to the other children.

Composite classes, although not this way today, I think have a bit of a stigma. When parents hear their child is going in at the lower end of the composite (so the younger children) they perceive this as, "my child must be really bright if they are going in to work with the older children!" I've also heard that parents of the children in the higher end of the composite (the older children) believe their children must be the poorer performing children in their year group. Of course, not all parents believe that and they'd be right not to. Having spoken to so many professionals involved with Z, I know this isn't the case at all.

Composite classes, in fact, are pretty much seen in all classes as children will work in set groups. You'll have the top group, the middle group and the bottom group. They take in to account each individual child's learning abilities and group them to work with children at a similar stage. The difference with composite classes is sometimes they'll look at the older children as role models to the younger children and a way to bring the younger children out of their shells. Sometimes the younger and older children will all be working at a similar level. Sometimes the children who need to be challenged or need additional support will be put in to composite classes because the classes are smaller and with smaller classes comes more time for the teacher to support each child.There are some cons, of course, but the pros seem to out-number them.

I'm not delighted that Z is in a composite class however he is happy and to be honest, when it's all said and done and whilst I feel like we'll be fighting a war throughout his education, if he's happy then I'm happy for him. It's the first time in three years he can say, "I'm in a class with my best friends!" and we haven't had to fight someone to get it that way.

Until next year...

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