Beare Green school to merge year groups to save money
CHILDREN from two different year groups will be taught as one class as a primary school struggles to manage pupil numbers.
The Weald Church of England Primary School in Beare Green will create a combined Year 3 and 4 class for the next academic year, which starts in September.
A letter given to parents last week stated the move was necessary to ease the financial strain on the school caused by having three Year 3 classes, as there are currently too many children for two classes.
Head teacher Sharon Davis wrote: "We are confident Mrs Taylor, who will be the class teacher for this mixed year group class, will ensure that the children in this class get the best possible deal and are at no disadvantage to their peers in single year group classes.
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"We envisage it being an exciting opportunity to develop cross phase working."
The school stated its optimal class size is 30 to 32 pupils, which it has struggled to achieve.
Last year class sizes were as large as 34 in Year 3, while for this academic year a third class was created, meaning class sizes of about 26.
Steve Willoughby, who has a son in Year 3 at the school, said: "It's very difficult for me as a parent to say this, I like the school and I like the head teacher, but I'm not sure this is a great idea.
"It harks back to before Victorian times when children were educated separately in the same classrooms, it's like lumping the children together and letting them be.
"I can understand what the problem is but I don't see how mixing the two different years is going to help."
Mr Willoughby said some parents are concerned older children could repeat activities, while younger children may not be able to keep up with advanced material.
"It's a decision that's been made, I can't see it being reversed," he said.
"I'd just like it highlighted. It could go the same way for other years and other schools.
"Last year my youngest boy was split up from his friends and for months he didn't want to go to school, and my boys like school, so we want to avoid that happening again."
Speaking to the Advertiser, the head teacher said there had been a variety of responses from parents, and insisted that having a mixed class was a good option for the school.
Mrs Davis added: "Historically as a school we have a bulge year every four years and we create an extra class, but we're funded per child so we can't do that every year.
"In the ideal world the numbers would be perfect and people would live in the right place, but we've got to deal with the reality of it."