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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:08 PM
Hi All: (a bit of vent coming!)
My 7yr old DD has been placed in a yr 1/2 composite class this year. She is in Grade 2. Now, I don't have an issue with composite classes - in an ideal world I would prefer a straight class but I live in the country and am happy to have composite classes. I was in composite classes when I was child and I dont' think they did me any harm. However, I am not happy with my DD class split. There are 20 Year 1's and only 5 yr 2 girls! Not only that, when her class goes on excursions or teams up with another class in the school it is the other year 1 class. There are two other year 2 classes - a straight yr 2 and a yr2/3
I am incredibly concerned abou the social aspect of this. My DD is already saying she doesn't want to go to school when ordinarily she loves school. The classroom set up is terrible! The classroom is small and the 5 little yr2 girls are all squashed on one table together. My poor DD has to deal with a the join in the middle of the tables and table legs in her way so she can't push her chair in! I was hoping the teacher would rotate this around but it hasn't happened yet and we are in week 6! She is saying she can't concentrate at school because the other year 2 girls are always talking - now I don't for one second think my DD is an angel and I am certain she does her fair share of talking BUT I asked what the teacher did about this and my DD said nothing because she is busy with the Yr 1's. Now i think the reason my DD and her 4 other fellow Yr2's are talking is because they are bored and not being given enough attention or the correct work.
I have had a lenghty discussion with the principal about this and apparently there is nothing they can do, blah, blah, blah it is the only way the number could fit. I questioned what would happen if a new yr2 boy moved to the school? The principals answer - well obviously he won't be able to go into your daughters class as it only has yr 2 girls - so.....there must be room in the other yr2 classes then musn't there....?
and to top it all off the teacher has the WORST reputation in our town as being the worst teacher at the school! I have tried to keep neutral on this as DD is my elder child and I like to make my own judgements but given I have had extended family be in her classes and she is near on 65 it is very hard. I have friends who were taught be her when they were kids who say she was not all the flash even back then! You would think if the shcool had no other option but to go with this split they would have chosen a different teacher? I actually feel sorry for her in a way - how is she supposed to manage such a ridiculous class split?
Does anyone know if myself and the other parents who are also not happy have any options regarding this situation?
All opinions welcome
Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:09 PM
Do you have any other schooling options in your area? It doesn't sound like anything is going to be done about it by the teacher. And it doesn't sound like the principal is going to do anything about it either. Your daughter sounds very miserable and I wouldn't like it if I was her.
I would seriously consider another school.
My eldest daughter was in a similar split for 1/2. At the time she was attending a largish local school and they did their class splits into composites. ie prep, 1/2, 3/4 and 5/6 (they changed that this year funnily enough). When in grade 2 there were something like 18 grade 1ers and 6 or so grade 2ers in her class so the grade 2ers seemed to have been forgotten about. The teacher wasn't fantastic (but a really nice person) and as a consequence I don't think my daughter learnt much at all. She was the type of kid that when given work would do everything but the work and there was no consequence so it never changed. I think they were given work and just expected to do it and most of it was pitched at the grade 1's. Now in grade 5 she is still struggling. I regret keeping her at that school as I always had an issue with large schools having composite classes (and to this day I'm not sure why there wasn't a more even split). I wish I had've changed schools much earlier than I did. With child number 2 she ended up with this same teacher as a grade 1er in a 1/2 split and I had the same issues (my daughter left half way through the year to probably her benefit).
Now my kids are at a small country school with 3 classes. A grade prep, 1/2/3 and a 4/5/6 and they are all doing brilliantly. The teachers my kids have are both brilliant and know to go engage and challenge each child. They work a lot across ability levels but also in grade cohorts and all the kids get along. And the fact that they are composite classes doesn't actually mean a lot.
Posted 08 March 2012 - 09:24 AM
I wouldn't be happy at all with the situation you describe, so I don't blame you for feeling the way I do.
Unfortunately it looks as though you are really unlucky with the teacher. And yes, if what you have heard is true then I too am surprised she is taking this class. Hopefully the stories are exaggerated, often they are. Perhaps she will start taking leave this year or even retire eary
The way the numbers have fallen is no-one's fault. With 25 kids in a 1/2, it sounds as if the school is bursting at the seams and it is probably the same in the other yr 2 classes. The school is probably just under getting another teacher, but numbers will have gone in to the department and those decisions made by now so the classes won't change. Work needs to be done at making this experience OK for the 5 yr 2 girls.
Both of my kids are/have been in classes with small groups of one year. Last year DD was one of 4 yr 2s in her class. They went on the yr 2 excursions, did yr 2 sport and spent time in a yr 2 classroom. Unfortunately the last part was handled really badly by the yr 2 teacher so they received no benefit from it. Someone else has realised this even without me mentioning it though, because this year DS is in a 1/2 that has 6 yr 2 kids. It's a far from ideal situation but is due to numbers (DS is in the large yr 1 group). The year 2 kids again do yr 2 sport and excursions but this year they are joining in with particular lessons with the yr 2 classes, for example on Tuesday morning they do writing. It is still hard for the teacher, DS's teacher said the other day she has to really focus on the yr 2s to make sure she doesn't forget them. However it is easier now the yr 1s are settling into the routine of the classroom.
Don't be OK with your DD joining in with yr 1 activities. Insist they do all the yr 2 experiences. Keep in touch with the teacher (be an annoying parent if need be) so that you don't feel as if your daughter is forgotten and tell her all the problems with the seating arrangements. And keep telling her if it doesn't change.
You have to be the one to tell the teacher your daughter is not happy. I'm not saying this is you but I've seen parents sit back and complain about teachers and go to the principal about it, but they don't talk to the teacher. And yet I've seen the kid at school interacting with the teacher and they look to be happy and loving school. The teacher needs to know what the child is saying at home and most likely hiding from the teacher while they are at school.
Your poor DD, I feel so bad for her. Hopefully the other yr 2 girls in her class are good friends and workmates. Keep an eye on the work she is doing to make sure it is the right level. This shouldn't be your job, but make it your job.
Would I change school if it was an option? Depends, if this was a bad situation in a good school I'd ride it out (while being a very involved parent ) but if I didn't feel as though the school was a supportive environment over all and I found my kids in this situation then I would seriously consider it.
Posted 08 March 2012 - 09:54 AM
Ouch. Like a PP said, I'm guessing that your school is really pushing the limits, about to hit a the point of getting another teacher.
Our school had a similar situation when my DD1 was in yr 2.
Full yr 2 class with 26 kids (which was over the recommended limits), a 2/3 class, and a 1/2 class. Not sure how many yr2 were in the 2/3 class, but there was only a small number in the 1/2 (6 or 7?) with 17 or 18 yr 1 kids . DD1 was in the full yr2 class, but I had friend's with kids in the other 2 classes.
The 1/2 class was a bit of a disaster for the yr2 kids. The class was too unbalanced, with too much time focused on the yr1 students. The yr2 students in there were chosen as independent workers, but still.
The classes split over the 3 different class types caused quite a few social issues too.
As a group, they have yr 1 and yr2 doing sport together anyway, and the yr 2 from the 2/3 came back for that. Same with fortnightly assemblies. But there was still too much of a divide.
In term 3, we got a couple of extra students, and suddenly scored the extra teacher. And the school was reshuffled as a result, ending up with 2 smaller straight year 2 classes. I think the reshuffled affected about 6 or 7 classes - pulling the year 2s from the composities into one class, pulling a few from the other straight year 2 to even numbers, and then balancing numbers in the yr1 and yr3 classes. LOTS of complaints from kids and parents when kids got shifted away from friends, or teachers they liked, but overall, it was just so much better.
And while the first 3 terms were hard, the school did work to keep the yr2 involved, and there hasn't been any long term impact from what I can tell.
In your position, I would be approaching the teacher - arrange a meeting, not just catching her. Outline your concerns and ask what they can do about it.
The year 2 girls SHOULD be doing activities like sports etc with the yr2 group. And your daughter should have a suitable seat in the classroom - straddling the desk leg means she can't pull her chair in. Which puts her in a bad position for writing. My kinder comes home reciting the rhyme about how they sit in class - it is an important issue. If they can't physically fit the tables any other way, I would be going to the principal about it, and suggesting that since they can't fit that many kids in the classroom, they MUST move someone.
Beyond that, I really don't think you are going to be able to get things changed. On the issue of a new student going into the other class .. that doesn't mean the other class has "spaces", it just means that if they had an additional yr 2 boy, they would choose to overload the other class, rather than put the child into a class with no yr2 boys. Might be interesting to find out just how big all the other classes actually are.
Keep an eye on her school work, and the homework coming home. Give it a bit more time maybe, as the yr1s will be getting more settled now (step from FYOS to yr1 can be a big one). And just followup a LOT. The saying "the squeaky wheel gets more oil" is usually right.
Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:06 AM
If moving schools isn't an option, focus on changing the things that can be changed ie a suitable and comfortable table at which to learn and the activities which should be done with Year 2 cohorts.
I would arrange an interview with teacher and principal to discuss this and any other issues you see - ie too much time for Year 2 girls causing a lot of chatter in class.
Find out exactly what your DD is supposed to know by the end of term/year and make sure she is meeting the average standards for her stage of learning.
I am not opposed to composites (my DD is in a 3/4 at the moment and it is a great class, mainly due to teaching staff) but in your case it does not appear to be working.
At the end of the year write the school a letter stating you want your DD in a straight class for Year 3 and not with that teacher.
Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:24 PM
The classroom is small and the 5 little yr2 girls are all squashed on one table together.
DS' school is multi age philosophy, and I have never seen them group desks together according to Grade. This is not necessary.
Is the teacher using the multiage national curriculum templates/lesson plans?
TBH I see no reason the Yr 2s can't go on excursions with the other Yr 2 classes.
Good luck. Crappy teachers have such an effect on young children.
Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:34 PM
Our school does muitage classrooms - all 1/2/3 classes and 4/5/6 classes with as even splits as possible. I can't see what you can do about it for this year, but thinking more broadly about composite classes might make it possible to make less uncomfortable arrangements in the future.
And If there is a straight grade two class as you say, why didn't they take 8 kids from that class and put with the 5 in your DD's class, and send 10 of the grade 1's to that class, making two classes of 1/2 composites with 10 grade ones and 12 or 13 grade 2's in each class? Did you ask them why they didn't do that?
Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:04 PM
I am so sorry , I have been waiting for replies to come into my inbox but I have must have forgotton to tick the box to notify me so i hadn't seen any of your replies. I am going to read them all now!
Once again I am so sorry I have not got back sooner, I was feeling really isolated and now knowing I have some replies and support has really boosted my spirit to keep following this through.
Thanks again and I will pop another post up soon
Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:31 PM
Thanks again so much everyone, you have given me some great tips, experiences and advice. Also some great things to think about.
As a parent group of the 5 yr 2's we have arranged a meeting with both the teacher and principal in a couple of weeks and we plan to meet up before the meeting so we can present a united front and not come across as un-organised or 'agressive' so to speak but just that we have the best interests of our children at heart.
Unfortunatley I have no other option for school. We live in a country town with only the one school.
A couple of you spoke of insisting the Yr2's join in on certain Yr2 activities such as sports etc. What do you think the most important area's would be to suggest to the school? Our school has adopted the 'Jolly Phonics' and 'Jolly Grammar' system which I love but yr1's don't do Jolly Grammar so I am thinking this would be a good subject that our girls should join in with the other Yr 2 classes to do.
2bundles - you spoke of the mulitage national cirriculum - what is this and do you know where I could access it or the lesson templates you are mentioning?
libbylo - what a fantastic point regarding the other option - why didn't they make 2 x yr1/y2 classes - I will certainly be asking that question at our meeting - I didn't even think of that option. I had planned to ask the principal what other options they looked at but now I will be able to ask if they actually thought of that option - thank you so much!
Most of the Yr2 parents are already going in and helping in the classroom during the week and doing extra activities at home but when you are a full time working Mum that is hard and it is also hard to ask my daughter to spend more time at home doing homework when she just wants some play time.
Anyway, thank you again ladies, I really do appreciate your ideas and taking the time to post back to me. I know you are all busy Mum's just like me. I honestly don't think there will be anything that can be done about this situation failing 10 other yr 2 children moving to the district but at least we can possibly make the school think twice before choosing a class split like this again as it is so unbalanced and really just not working.
Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:49 PM
Hi, my twins were in a 2/3 composite last year in Year 2. Our school does composites quite often depending on numbers. Last year there was a straight year 2 and then a 1/2 and a 2/3. Unfortunately they just couldn't do it any other way. They had a huge amount of both Year 3's and Year 1's and had the Year 3's also split into 3x 3/4 composites and they had a straight Year 1 and a K/1 as well.
DD2 & DD3 usually did sport with the other Year 2's. They did maths in groups depending on ability and were all split and put with different teachers for each group and the same with reading groups. But then again with the reading groups that mean't DD2 was 1 of only a few in Year 2 as her reading is quite good.
They went with the other Year 2's on the excursions with their own teacher each time. When the Year 3's went on their excursions the teacher also went with them. They split them up into various classes one of those days with work to complete and they also helped out as Buddies with the Kindergarten kids for a while and they had a substitue teacher one day as well.
From Year 3 to Year 6 our school only has composite classes. They do Junior 3/4 and Senior 5/6 and usually split them all up into 3 classes of each. I know DD2 & DD3's class this year is pretty evenly mixed with Year 3's and Year 4's. There is 6 girls from Year 3 in their class of 31. But I think the other 2 classes only have 4 Year 3 girls in each. There is way more boys than girls in their year. They wont get split into Year groups at all, actually I don't think they are doing maths/reading groups with other classes at all this year either. No mention of it as yet anyway. They will all go on the excursion together though. But that will be all 3 Junior classes.
With the composite classes at our school they aren't divided into tables according to what year they are in or even what level of ability they are at. DD3 in particular made some good friends last year with some girls in the older year and she is in the same class as one of them again this year.
Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:44 PM
Unfortunately split or composite classes are never ideal. Not for the kids, teachers, Principals or parents. There is no "right" way of splitting a class and no matter how you do it there will always be issues or concerns.
I agree that talking with your Principal and teacher is the best thing to do. And doing so as a group will mean that you all will come out with the same information. Definitely discuss the concern of the 5 girls not being included - surely things like sport, excursions, where they sit for assembly etc even things in the afternoon sessions like art, music ....
Make sure you go in with specific questions but remember to try and keep the emotion out of it - extremely hard I know. No one has put your child in this class because they don't like her, she can't learn or they just pulled names out of a hat. There would have been a lot of consideration of deciding who would go in - and believe me no matter how long you take you never get it right - there is no ideal! Try to go into the meeting thinking you can support the school in making this work!
In terms of talk about the teacher - like any organisation some people are better than their job than others and this is no different in education. If you have any concerns go and see the teacher or Principal straight away so the concern or issue can be sorted out quickly.
Kids shouldn't need to do more than 20mins of homework a night (particularly in Primary School - though this does vary as they get towards the end of Primary School). Actually to be honest research has proven that completing homework actually has very little to do with academic achievement - now what can of worms that statement might open.
You sound like you are a very supportive parent of both your daughter and your school - which is so nice to see. That is more than a lot of children will ever have!
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