Flexible class groupings are used to make best use of a limited number of teachers to teach a diverse range of students. Increasingly the model of one teacher one class for the year is being adapted to incorporate advances in teaching practice that include team teaching, using spaces better and flexible timetables.
The NZ Curriculum has been designed to ensure that all children, no matter which school they attend, have experiences in school which will lead to the same learning outcomes.
Teachers are trained to teach in mixed ability classes, treating each child as an individual and catering for their individual learning needs. Therefore the learning experience of any individual child should not be affected whether they are in a single year group class, or a composite class composed of children from two (or more) year groups. However, it is accepted that the experience of children in different classes, whether parallel single year group classes or in composite classes, and across different schools, will vary because of differences in teachers, in the class cohort, in the physical environment of the classroom etc. It is the responsibility of Principals and teaching staff to ensure that these different experiences are equally valid and positive for the children in all classes in their school.
Despite this, it is recognised that many parents prefer to see single year group classes and the procedure does not propose that composite classes should be created in preference to single year group classes. The procedure is designed to assist school leaders in those situations where one single year group class for each year group is not possible due to pupil numbers or when improving learning for all students requires more adjustment.
- Principles of class composition policy
2.1 The Principal will allocate the available teaching resources in a way which will, in his/her professional judgement, deliver the best educational experiences for all children in the school.
2.2 It is the responsibility of the class teacher to treat all pupils as individual learners, and make sure that every child is making good progress, no matter what the composition of the class.
2.3 When it is necessary to divide a year group, school leaders will take into account the principles set out in the framework below. However, the responsibility to make decisions on class arrangements remains with the Principal at all times.
- Framework for class composition arrangements
Most classes in Twizel year 1-10 will be composite classes. We are not resourced sufficiently to provide a teacher for each year level and even then some classes would be too big and some too small to provide equitable education. Deciding which children will go into which class will generally be done by age. Parents will have an opportunity to give input into the process before lists are made up, but in the end senior management have to decide so that parents can have confidence that the system is fair, equitable and produces educationally sound results. After the lists are out it is much harder to justify shifting children as this undermines confidence in the system, however there does need to scope for reconsideration.
4 Parallel classes
Parallel classes consist of two or more classes with students from the same year group. These may be formed where circumstances indicate student learning will be improved by having two classes at similar levels. Examples are boys only classes, Parallel New Entrant classes and team teaching situations. Parallel New Entrant classes may sometimes go to year 2 to provide enough children to justify employing a teacher and to accommodate the possibility of growth during the year. In such cases some children may go through to the next class usually between school year terms. This will be discussed with parents beforehand.
5 Composite Classes
5.1 A composite class is a class which includes children from more than one year group
5.2 Where possible, whole year groups will be included in the same class. Exceptions would be where parallel composite classes are formed to optimise learning for particular groups as above.
5.3 When it is necessary to divide a year group to make one or more composite classes, the first consideration will be to allocating places based on age.
The reasons for using Age are:
- It allows leaders to create classes which most closely resemble those of single year groups.
- It is a clear and transparent criteria which can be easily understood
- It is objective
5.4 If children are joining the school from a number of Early Childhood settings, or from other primary schools, the Principal will endeavour to ensure that no child is put in a class without another child from their previous setting. Advice will also be taken from the professionals working with the child in the previous setting to help inform the allocation of such places. This may require exceptions to be made to the strict age order.
5.5 Exceptional factors: The Principal will take into account the specific needs of individual children with Additional Support Needs or social, emotional or behavioural considerations, in consultation with their parents. Friendship groups or preferred teachers will not, on their own, be considered as exceptional factors but may be taken into account alongside specific needs.
5.6 The placement of siblings within the year group will be discussed with parents and their views will be taken into account where possible it may be necessary for siblings to be in the same composite class.
5.7 Schools will be expected to provide opportunities for children to develop relationships with their year group as well as with their composite class.
5.8 Small numbers in a composite class – at times it may be necessary for a small group of children from one year group to be separated from their year group and to join a composite class with children from one or more other year groups. When this is necessary, leaders will consider the gender balance in addition to other specific needs. No fewer than 2 boys or 2 girls from a single year group will be put into a composite class, unless there is only 1 girl or 1 boy in the year group.
Information sharing with parents
6.1 Both school leaders and parents have identified that composite class arrangements work most smoothly where parents understand the reasons why the composite classes are required, the rationale for their formation and the way in which children will be taught within the composite class.
6.2 Class structures should be published as early as possible, once teaching allocations have been received. There will then be an open invitation for parents to provide information that they would like the school to consider when making the class lists. This will allow time for discussion with parents as required. Class lists will be available at least a week before school starts.
6.3 Plans for the management of classes such as the location of classrooms, the allocation of teachers and planned opportunities for year group activities will be shared with parents as part of the process.
6.4 Throughout the information sharing process, it is important that parents are continually reminded that class arrangements may need to be changed at short notice if circumstances change, eg if more children are enrolled at the school, or children leave. If this happens, Principals will :
- Inform parents as quickly as possible that changes have become necessary – this may be by text message / email / letter or phone call depending on the number of parents who need to be contacted and their preferred method of contact, and the urgency of the situation.
- Provide an opportunity for parents to discuss the implications of any such changes
7 Dealing with disagreements
7.1 If a parent wishes to discuss the class arrangements made for their child, they should speak to the Principal in the first instance, who will provide them with the rationale for his/her decision.
7.2 If a parent believes that their child has specific needs which have not been taken into account, they should discuss these with the Principal. If the Principal agrees with the parent’s views, he/she will discuss with the parent how these specific needs can be addressed in the class to which the child has been allocated.
The Principal would not necessarily be expected to move the child to another class.
7.3 If a parent believes a Principal has not adhered to this policy in allocating their child to a particular class, they should raise this concern with the Principal in the first instance, who will provide them with the rationale for his/her decision.
7.45.9 It is expected that the Principal will have spoken to or met with the parent concerned within one week of a request for such a discussion.
7.5 If a parent is still not satisfied following discussion with the Principal, they should raise their concerns to the Board of Trustees
7.6 The Board will consider whether the Principal’s rationale meets the principles of the Class Composition Procedures, and whether any actions are required to address the parent’s concern. The Board would not necessarily seek to have the child moved to another class.