I’d now like to challenge two things about the idea of one-age classes.
Firstly, children of the same age can display large differences in maturity level (influenced, largely, by their environment at home), level of reading (again, heavily impacted by home life), physical ability etc. This can have positive and negative repercussions: positively, children can be exposed to these differences ‘naturally’ even within a single-age class; negatively, their exposure to children of other ages is limited, and limits their access to the benefits that these children have.
This leads to my second point: there are things that children can’t get from children their own age. For example, how much benefit would a five year old get from the attention, teaching and wisdom from an 11 year old? And how much benefit would the 11 year old get from teaching the younger child? I believe passionately in this. I think that, in some ways, it would be more important for the five year-old to learn from an older child than from an adult because the younger child can relate more easily to someone who is much nearer their age.
At the moment, I don’t have an answer about whether it’s best for children to be with others of the same age or in a mixed age class, or whether there is a compromise to be reached. At the moment I think that schools that use single-age classes should encourage collaboration across children from Reception to Year 6.
Moving forward I hope to shed some light on what the optimal way to organise a classroom is, and how best to implement this strategy.