Composite Class Information
Composite Classes (one composite classes this session 2011 - 2012)
A Question and Answer Leaflet for Parents and Carers
What is a composite class?
A composite class is one where children from two or more year stages are grouped together to form a registration class according to specific criteria.
How are children chosen for composite classes?
The headteacher will arrange classes in consultation with staff and following guidance from Scottish Borders Council.Composite classes will normally be organised using one of the following criteria:
- Combining whole year groups, usually in smaller schools
- Children’s ages
- Combining working groups of children of similar ability
- Alphabetical order of surname
Headteachers will be aware of the social needs of pupils and will provide opportunities for all children to mix with their peers regardless of class allocation.
Gender balance will be taken into account when making up classes and in a two stage composite there will not normally be less than four pupils from any year group. Whether or not siblings are placed together in a composite class will be subject to local decision making in consultation with parents, staff and pupils. This may also be the case for twins.
Whether or not composite classes remain for more than one year is dependant on the make up of the school roll and will be based on decisions made by the Headteacher through discussion with class teachers and others.
Why are composite classes formed?
Classes are grouped according to recommended maximum class sizes Primary 1 – 25 Primaries 2 - 3 – 30 Primaries 4 – 7 – 33 Composite classes – 25
The physical size of a classroom or bay can dictate the number of pupils it holds and class numbers may have to be restricted. The number of teachers in any school is worked out in relation to the total school roll, not on numbers at any given year group stage. The agreed formula determines the number of full time equivalent staff appointed to a particular school.
Working within the class size recommendations, the Headteacher decides on the best possible structure of classes and on the pupils allocated to them.
In some schools children know nothing other than composite classes, particularly in small, rural schools. More than 90% of our schools have one or more composite classes. It is highly likely therefore that pupils will experience being in a composite class at some point in their primary school years.
How are children taught in a composite class?
All our teachers are trained to work with mixed ability classes whether in a straight year group or in a composite class. In all primary classes there are wide ranges of abilities and all children will learn in different ways, responding to a variety of methods and resources. Teachers are well able to adapt to the different needs within any class and are expected to plan accordingly.
Programmes and schemes of work are compiled to suit the development needs of all learners in different groupings. 'Setting’ is a commonly used method of grouping children across classes in order to teach pupils of similar ability in appropriately sized groups. It may be that some pupils in a composite class are joined by their peers for an allocated time each week for a particular subject e.g. those working at a similar level in Mathematics.
Research shows that the academic performance of pupils in composite classes may ‘simply be no worse and simply no better’ than that of pupils in single-age classes. There is however some evidence to show that pupils in composite classes gain socially.
You should be confident that the teachers in school will ensure that all children work within programmes suitable for their age, aptitude and ability. There is no need to question whether your child will be ‘held back’ or ‘able to keep up’ in any class.
When are classes formed?
Classes are almost always formed in the final term for the coming school session and all pupils and parents will be informed.
In certain exceptional circumstances class restructuring may have to take place during the summer break, after a school session has started or during the school year.
Will the classes remain the same over a number of school sessions?
Not necessarily. Each year the headteacher has to consider the circumstances within the whole school taking into account the whole school roll, year group numbers, staffing allocations and continuity of learning.
Will there be opportunities for children to mix with friends in other classes?
Opportunities will be given for children to mix with others in both social and academic settings. Activities will be planned which involve whole year groups, working groups within and across classes and buddy systems when pupils at different stages come together.
Other opportunities exist at break times and during extra-curricular activities etc. Primary school staff are mindful of the importance of developing pupils as confident individuals as well as having class and year group identities.
What if I am not happy with the class to which my child has been allocated?
Your headteacher will be pleased to meet with you to discuss class arrangements and to explain the structuring within school.
May I refuse to have my child in a composite class?
Not usually, but your reasons for seeking refusal should always be shared with the headteacher and any particular circumstances will be talked through.
The local authority will only over-rule a headteacher’s decision if the criteria for class composition cannot be upheld.
Normal complaints and grievance procedures apply.