Composite Classes

Composite classes, or split classes, most often consist of one class containing two grades or years of schooling. Extensive research shows it makes no difference to performance whether students are in a straight or composite class. It is the teacher and their relationship with the students that plays a key role and is significant in the development of students. Strong teacher student relationships shape the way children think and act in school. When a student has a good relationship with their teachers, they are more likely to feel positive about class and about school in general. They are also more willing to have a go at hard work, to risk making mistakes, and to ask for help when they need it. At Aspiri Primary School, we have highly dedicated teachers who maximise the learning potential of all students in their class regardless of the class structure.

Reasons for a Composite Class

Composite classes are a practical response to the problem of uneven grade enrolments; for example, when there are too many students to form one ‘straight’ grade but not enough to form two. Combining students in this way is often an administrative solution that not only allows schools to ensure more consistent class sizes, but more easily match teachers to student need; maximise school and teacher funding and resources; and cope with declining or increasing enrolments. At Aspiri Primary School we have and will continue to incorporate composite classes within a school year.

How Composite Classes are determined at Aspiri Primary School

At Aspiri Primary, we see positive relationships as our priority and from this, our class structures are determined. There are other factors such as peer relationships, gender balance, inclusivity and academic diversity that also guide class placements.

Teaching in a Composite Class

Despite much positive research regarding student growth in composite classrooms, negative perceptions persist, particularly among parents. Many fear their children will be unable to keep up with work; will have fewer friendships; that younger children will be overlooked, or that older children will not be sufficiently challenged; that children with learning difficulties will suffer more anxiety; or that the curriculum for each year level will be inadequately covered. Aligned with current research, at Aspiri Primary School we believe education is not only about academic achievement, and age is not an accurate predictor of a child’s development. Wide-ranging student abilities exist in children of the same age, and not just in composite classes. Multiple studies conclude it makes no difference to performance whether students are in a straight or composite class. Experts agree the most important factor in determining how well a student does is the quality of the teacher and providing a ‘differentiated’ curriculum caters to all children as individuals, according to their needs. Differentiation describes a concept being taught universally to all students within a class and creating related tasks at varying levels of complexity. When differentiating instruction in this way, teachers are providing for the needs of students at multiple levels of understanding at the same time which in turn allows students to see clearly not only where they are at, but where they are going. Differentiation occurs in every classroom at Aspiri Primary School and children are taught in accordance with their individual learning needs.