Tuesday, 24 April 2018

How do we decide on class groups?

It is that time of the year again when we are busy planning for the new academic year. An important part of this is to allocate the new class groups. This can be an anxious time for parents as they wait to learn who their child's teacher is and who their classmate's will be.

I understand this, so I thought it might be timely to let you know a little about the process.

Firstly, at Bradbury, we see social development as an important aspect of learning. Our students need to know how to make friends, to mix with a variety of people and be comfortable doing so. They also need to opportunity to be moved away from social situations that are not healthy for them. When I first arrived at Bradbury, classes were not mixed up at all. This meant that the students your child started school with in Y1 were the children that they graduated with in Y6. For me, this did not resonate as being in the best interests of all.

This was because over the years, some classes had become  imbalanced as the practice of filling places as they were available was implemented. Also, and really importantly, some children who did not 'fit in', were different in some way or who had fallen out with other members of the class spent many years in lonely social isolation. Mixing up classes annually was a way to overcome this and give all children the opportunity to make new friends as well as learning to keep and maintain already established friendships if these children were not already in their class- remembering that 25% of the original class is with them in the next year.

This is now an established part of our practice here at Bradbury. As you know, feedback from parents is sought to help us when making decisions around where to place your child. This is not a request for a particular teacher, but input into the social aspects of your child's life- such as letting us know if there other children that your child would be best separated from for a variety of reasons.

Teachers will meet and initially, we use a computer programme to sort the students of each year group into four new groups. Teachers are able to add parametres so that the initial sorting is somewhat targeted eg gender balanced. These new groups are then individually examined to ensure that we think they will be a workable social and learning group. It is important to know that at this stage, no teacher is allocated. The teachers look at any parent feedback (often, this is confidential to just myself and the phase leader, so it may be just us cross checking) as well as feedback from the teachers, for example, the Head of IN.

Once this is done, the lists are checked and rechecked many times to ensure that we are confident that the mix will provide optimal learning conditions for these
students. They then come down to the SLT and we all have another look at it. Once we are sure that we are happy with them, teachers are allocated to each class. They may be different teachers than in the current year group, one reason why parent are not able to request a specific teacher.

In this way, I can confidently say that the placement of each and every child at Bradbury School is well considered and thought about...Just one reason why we do not change placements after they are published.

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