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Class Grouping Policy 2017 – 2018





Policy for Class Groupings


This policy is founded on the following statements from the aims of our school, as published in our School Prospectus.

That we aim to create the conditions whereby each child can:

  • Grow and develop to their greatest potential.
  • Feel safe, secure, valued and happy.
  • Experience positive appraisal.
  • Celebrate their abilities, talents and achievements.
  • Experience learning opportunities appropriate to the level of his/her development.
  • Develop initiative, independence and self-confidence.

As school budgets are determined by the number of pupils enrolled, smaller schools like St. Colman’s Bann must combine classes into what we refer to as “composite classes.” (2 or more year groups taught in the same room by 1 teacher).

This is very common, as approximately one third of Northern Ireland primary schools have less than 100 pupils and as a result children are taught in composite class groupings.

One of the most important considerations to ensure that high quality teaching and learning can be facilitated, is the organisation of class groupings to allow the most appropriate and fair ratio between teachers and pupils.

We aim to do this so that teachers have the maximum available time to focus on each pupil, in other words, it is in the best interests of the children that class sizes are kept as manageable as possible.

By law, class sizes in the Foundation Stage (Primary 1-2) must remain below 30 pupils, and it is up to schools to organise their class groupings in a way that meets this legislation.

Bearing these factors in mind, there may be occasions during your child’s time at primary school, when the year group to which he/she belongs has to be divided between 2 teachers.

In such an instance, the divide may not necessarily be equal, as it depends on the number of children in the year group below and the number in the year above.


It is seldom possible to have the exact same numbers in each room, and sometimes there are a variety of factors to be considered….

  • Will the split leave one girl/boy alone among all girls/boys?
  • Will a separation of best friends be too traumatic for the individuals involved?
  • Will the child be emotionally ready to cope with the change of teacher yet?
  • Will the change have a negative effect on the child’s confidence?

These are just examples of some of the issues to be considered as each child has his/her own individual needs and concerns depending on his/her stage of development.

Development of Pupils

At any given time, individuals within the same age group are at varying stages of their educational development, yet as they get older the gaps between them close so that their achievements have a greater commonality.

Like runners in a race, they are at different stages along the course, but at the end, all of them will cross the finishing line.

This helps to explain the reason for Key Stage 1 becoming divided into “Foundation Stage” and Key Stage 1.

Foundation Stage lasts from the beginning of school up to the end of Primary 2, by which point it is expected that most children will be ready to begin Key Stage 1 (in Primary 3).

Once it has been established that there is a need to divide a group of children, the next step is to decide on the balance of the divide, in order to keep class sizes as fair and manageable as possible.

Individual stages of development of pupils are closely monitored by their teacher from the beginning of the school year, and continuously throughout the year so that the teacher has a clear idea of the pace of progress for each child.

When deciding how to divide a group of children between 2 classrooms, this becomes the most important consideration.

We will use specific quantifiable criteria in Literacy and Numeracy, matched to the expected stage of development of that group, to provide teachers with concrete evidence of the stage of development each child has reached.


In the 2017-2018 school year the class sizes are expected to be as follows:


Miss Hoy               P1   =  25 pupils

Mrs McMeekin      P2/3 = 22 pupils

Mrs Reavey          P3/4 = 24 pupils

Miss Byrne           P4/5 = 29 pupils

Principal               P6/7 = 36 pupils

(School Total = 136 pupils)


The Curriculum

Every child in the school will be taught according to the content of the Revised Curriculum for Northern Ireland at a level best suited to his or her level of development, which means that all children will be receiving the full content of the curriculum.

In order to facilitate classroom management however, the strategies used by each teacher may differ, and the lesson content they use may differ accordingly even though they are teaching the same curriculum.

The best way to understand this is by considering very large schools where there are 3 or 4 classes of children within each year group, – every child will be taught the same curriculum but not every teacher uses the same text books or topics or activities to teach it.

This allows teachers to use their own individual creativity and flair to relate to children in what is the best way for them.

Teachers will always be willing to discuss your child’s progress and development with you should any concerns arise. They will also consult together regularly regarding the teaching and learning experiences for the children, to ensure that all groups are receiving the support needed and desired outcomes.

In the event of a difficult decision having to be made regarding the placement of a child/children, the principal will make that decision according to what he/she considers to be in the best interests of the child/children concerned, with the full backing of the Board of Governors.

This Policy has been ratified by the Board of Governors on 24th May 2017 and will be reviewed in May 2018.