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California dreaming has become a Dutch reality

Teachers in California preferred not to teach "combination" classes, since they involved twice the work and planning. "You're busy every minute" and they involve "horrendous amounts of preparation", they complained.

But Valerie Wilson points out there is little research on how teachers organise composites. In the Netherlands, after training on the theory and practice of composites, which improved their use of materials and space and approach to disturbances, pupils showed improved behaviour, particularly in their time on task.

"Undoubtedly, the evidence shows that staff development can alter the behaviour of teachers in composite classes, but whether these changes in instruction and classroom management by teachers of multi-grade classes are lasting needs further investigation," Dr Wilson states.

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