Mixed Age Classes

The classes throughout the school consist of a mixture of ages and a mixture of abilities. However due to the small nature of the school and the free interaction of all classes with one another, pupils will be aware they are in a class which is appropriate to their abilities and that they have control over their own learning.

To ensure that all pupils are receiving an appropriate level of education and are being sufficiently challenged the school has adopted a number of approaches:

  1. Inclusive Discussions During whole class discussion the teacher is able to facilitate and mediate to ensure that all pupils are actively involved.
  2. Group Activities Each teacher knows their children well enough to carefully choose groupings when undertaking an activity. This will ensure that each pupil is engaged at an appropriate level.
  3. Individual Activities & Tuition Due to the small numbers in every class, each teacher is able to personally tutor individual children. This forms the basis of much teaching and learning and helps children reach their potential.
  4. Assessments The individual nature of our teaching and learning allows formative assessment to occur naturally. This is used to inform planning for groups and individual students within their learning programmel. Assessment is seen as a positive aid to learning and is generally teacher, personal and peer based. Extension work, support and homework will all be informed by this continuous assessment for learning.
  5. Ability Appropriate Levels of Work All children have work expectations in line with their abilities. More able and often older pupils are given more complex tasks in class and for homework. They are expected to explore a more advanced concept, question more deeply and learn with accuracy. Younger or less able children will be supported in their learning, with structure and partitioning of tasks. Homework tasks will be shorter and children will be expected to learn more condensed pieces of information. There is a high level of expectation with regard to work. At all times all pupils are encouraged to believe that they can and will academically progress. They are encouraged to strive for more.
  6. Role Models & Mentors Due to the mix of ages in each class older pupils are encouraged to help and mentor younger pupils. This gives them a strong sense of responsibility, as well as helping them to embed their own knowledge. For the younger pupil they have the benefit of older role models whom they can look up to and learn from. We try to ensure that each child throughout their time with us experiences the benefits of being both an older and younger member of a class. By being a more ‘knowledgeable other’ (Vygotsky), you can scaffold ideas for a less experienced learner- this is only possible if you have fully grasped the concept yourself.

Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory is the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), who lived during the Russian Revolution. Vygotsky’s work was largely unkown to the West until it was published in 1962.

Vygotsky’s theory is one of the foundations of constructivism. It asserts three major themes:

  • Social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. In contrast to Jean Piaget’s understanding of child development (in which development necessarily precedes learning), Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development. He states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).” (Vygotsky, 1978).
  • The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO). The MKO refers to anyone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept. The MKO is normally thought of as being a teacher, coach, or older adult, but the MKO could also be peers, a younger person, or even computers.
  • The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD is the distance between a student’s ability to perform a task under adult guidance and/or with peer collaboration and the student’s ability solving the problem independently. According to Vygotsky, learning occurred in this zone. www.learning-theories.com