1.Background and Rationale
The allocation of mainstream teachers to a national school under the DES is dependent on the enrolment figure on 30th September of the previous academic year.
This school is generally assigned 15 mainstream teachers. If the number of mainstream teachers and classes are not the same it will then happen that we have a composite (or split) class, that is, two class levels taught by one teacher in the same room.
2. Aims and Objectives of this Policy
The Principal has a central role in the decision-making process for the splitting of classes (See Circular 16/73 and CPSMA Handbook)
The Principal examines the projected numbers in each class group for the following academic year.
Following this, the projected numbers are examined in “bands”, e.g. Junior/ Middle/ and Senior bands.
Options are chosen. Generally the preferred option is dictated by the actual projected numbers at a “band” level, e.g. the largest band levels will need all straight classes the following year.
The band level with the smallest numbers is where the option for two straight classes and a composite class will have to be.
At the May staff meeting the Principal outlines the projected numbers for staff and a final decision is made regarding where the composite classes will occur in the following school year.
This decision is influenced by the projected numbers.
Because we prefer not to have any child in a composite class on two consecutive years, there is generally a “shake up” of most of the classes each year, e.g. if a child is in a composite class one year, we try to ensure that she will be in a straight class the following year.
The Fourth Class girls in a Third/Fourth composite go into a straight Fifth Class the following year while some of the older girls in the straight Fourth Class may be chosen for the composite Fifth/Sixth the following year.
Class composition/make up changes year on year.
The main criteria for allocating children to certain classes is age. Based on their date of birth, all the children in a class are ranked. The oldest children of the junior class and the youngest children of the senior section of the respective classes are placed in the composite class, e.g. the oldest of a Fifth Class and the youngest of a Sixth Class are placed in a composite Fifth/ Sixth Class.
There are some exceptions to this:
New entrants to the school are normally placed in a composite class.
Children with special needs are treated on an individual basis.
Children with particular family/home circumstances - bereavement or health issues may be treated on an individual basis.
At senior level (Fifth and Sixth Class), in addition to ranking pupils by date of birth, the principal asks each pupil to name four friends and gives a promise that each child will have at least one friend in the same class the following year.
At senior level, there can sometimes be a need to separate children who may have a history of not getting on with each other, bullying, confrontational issues etc. The opinions of class teachers are taken into account in this decision.
The composite class will be smaller than the straight class. In some cases, the straight class may have over 30 pupils. Every effort will be made to keep composite class size as low as possible.
The Special Education team in the school is available to give additional support to the children in a composite class.
Extra material or books is provided if required.
These arrangements are considered on an individual basis year on year.
3.Criteria on which teachers are assigned to composite classes
It is the duty of the Principal as per Circular 16/73 to assign teaching duties.
Every teacher on staff is expected to be willing to take turns at teaching a composite class.
On occasion, a teacher volunteers to take a composite class.
It is preferable if a teacher has experience of teaching a straight class at that level.
The Principal’s decision will be based, where possible, on expressed class level preferences of teachers.
4. Informing Parents
Parents are informed by the School Newsletter late May/early June that a composite class/classes will occur the following year.
Parents are given an opportunity to meet the Principal by appointment to seek clarification of the process.
Parents are informed which class their daughter will be in the following year with their child’s report and booklist, by post in June.
Parents are reminded that the process of forming new friendships is an essential life skill which is important for all our pupils to develop and that a positive and supportive attitude from parents is a key element in achieving a successful outcome in the new class groupings.
5. Grievance Procedure for Parents
If parents are unhappy with the placement of their daughter in a composite class, they should make an appointment to discuss the matter with the principal.
If they feel that the matter remains unresolved, they may make a written complaint to the Board of Management, following the regular Complaints Procedure.
Signed: _______________________________________ Date __________________
Chairperson, Board of Management