Mixed-age, same-level classes

A British school is experimenting with mixed-aged classes that group students by performance in each subject.

From September, pupils at Bridgemary School, in Gosport, will be taught in mixed-age classes in a radical initiative aimed at stretching the most able and helping pupils who have fallen behind.

It sounds like the school is a combined middle and high school.

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  1. carol mcl says:

    I often wish we could do this at our school. However, I don’t know how the kids would take it. I’d think that the older kids who get mixed in with younger kids would be stigmatized. From a strictly academic point of view it would be helpful.

  2. SuperSub says:

    Yes, those who get left behind would be stigmatized, yet how would this system be any different from one where students with failing grades get held back? They might be upset, but it serves the interests of the students and community in the long run to allow the students to take as long as necessary to master the material. Perhaps once the mixed-age system is established, the stigma associated with ‘failure’ will lessen as the age groups distribute themselves more among the grades.

  3. Not sure this would work, exactly — as my own experience in high school would indicate. A 9th grader taking Trig is at a different level than a 12th grader taking Trig. There’s a very good chance that one of those kids learns faster than the other.

    I mean, I took Algebra I & part of Algebra II in 7th grade. We wouldn’t have been able to do it that fast if we were stuck in with 11th graders who had to take Algebra I. Though they do say they’d move pupils term-by-term, I can’t see how one could teach math to a full class at different speeds.

  4. I agree, it would take a long time for kids to overcome the stigma of “moving down”. Sounds like a good plan for the younger kids who need to move up to feed their brains, but there are some drawbacks there as well. Specifically, “moving up” carries negative social consequences for young students who’s maturity lags behind their cognitive development.

    I’m for the experiment, however, because it offers us another chance to test “new” and different ways to teach. (I say “new”, because I was put in a mixed-age classroom back in 1979 in Boulder.)

  5. …I’d think that the older kids who get mixed in with younger kids would be stigmatized.

    It could be an effective motivator though… part of the problem is that there is not enough stigma associated with failure. It’s taken more as a sign of rebellion. The real stigma seems to be associated with success.

    …”moving up” carries negative social consequences for young students who’s maturity lags behind their cognitive development.

    I doubt that it’s worse than the status quo. A brainy kid in a conventional classroom is likely to have a tough time anyway, especially if his social skills aren’t enough to overcome the stigma of being smart. I would expect the consequences of not conforming to be milder in the mixed-age/similar-ability setting.

  6. rouxdsla says:

    Not a good idea. First you can’t assume that the older students want to learn and are actually good kids.

    I’m not sure I’d want my 12 year old daughter in 6th grade in the same class with the 16 year old thug.

  7. Smaller classes, more teachers, and adequate adult supervision (and discipline) can overcome the very real problem of children “stigmatized” for whatever cause.

    The problem is that educators have a fatalistic attitude towards bullying and exclusion. Some of them are literally afraid of or intimidated by the bullies, or believe that the “natural leaders” among the children are above the law. Far from it. With power comes responsibility; and children with socio-political power need to learn that lesson from an early age.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Beeman – are you suggesting discipline? The unions ain’t gonna like you.

  9. Yes, I am suggesting discipline – firm, fair, and impartial. I have also suggested many other things that can improve schools. The unions can go to hell for all I care! They have done little to help good teachers or good students, and have been the best friends of pedophiles, parasites, and politicos.