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Composite classes

Some children are never part of a composite class while others never experience anything else. You can be confident that the professionalism of the staff in your school means that your child is working within a programme appropriate for his/her age, ability and aptitude. 

National guidelines on the curriculum indicates that pupils should proceed through learning experiences tailored to fit their personal level of attainment. This means that pupils in all classes will follow programmes designed to help them progress at their own level. This applies to all pupils regardless of whether or not they are in a composite or single-year stage class.

The school will make every effort to involve pupils of any one year group in activities which bring the whole year group together. In this way pupils will be able to continue to identify with children of the same age especially at important times such as transfer to secondary school. At the same time the school will also try to ensure that the natural identity of each primary class group is maintained.

Small schools

In smaller schools with a roll of 70 or less, composite and/or multi-composite classes are a standard feature of the school.

Whether these are two-, three- or four-stage composite depends on the number of children at each year stage.

Small schools are skilled at providing appropriate teaching and learning opportunities and maximising the benefits of multi-age groupings for their pupils.

Formation of composite classes

Schools are staffed to agreed standards based on the total number of pupils within the school, regardless of the number of pupils at each year stage. This means that head teachers are required to take management decisions to organise classes to make best use of available staff resources and space.

Balancing up the various factors involves both educational and organisational considerations.

According to the teachers' contract the maximum number of pupils in each single year stage is:

  • Primary 1: 25 pupils
  • Primary 2-3: 30 pupils
  • Primary 4-7: 33 pupils
  • Composite class: 25 pupils 

The head teacher will structure classes based on advice given by the education authority.

Composite classes are normally formed on the basis of literacy and/or mathematics working groups. This means that pupils working at broadly the same pace and level in literacy and/or mathematics are grouped together. This arrangement makes for the most efficient use of teaching resources.

Keeping you informed

Classes will usually be formed before the start of a new school year so that everyone involved knows what class structures exist for the new school session.

In certain circumstances class restructuring may have to take place during the summer break, after a school session has started or, in very exceptional circumstances, at any point during the year. However, such cases will be exceptional.

We will keep parents/carers informed of the arrangements for annual class structuring. Criteria for class formation will be explained in school handbooks.

If you are concerned about decisions being made, your child's head teacher will be happy to meet with you to answer any questions regarding class formation.

You might like to consider asking:

  • about reasons for class formation
  • about your child's progress
  • about the sort of work programme your child will follow

Page last updated:
11 Aug 2020

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