Parents voice their misgiving

Amanda Smith was not thrilled when she heard her P2 daughter Margaret would be in a composite class with P1 pupils at Park primary in Alloa. "I really did have misgivings. She had settled in very well to school herself and I thought being with new P1s who might be crying and upset might set her back.

"I also worried about how the teacher could teach two levels. I was quite up in arms about it and rang the education department, asking if anything could be done and how long would she be in a composite class.

"Having said that, as time went on I found there were no problems. Other mothers said that the P1 children settled in quicker because the older children were there.

"It made Margaret more aware of the other children's needs and that the teacher wasn't just there for her. Margaret would show the younger children where something was. My fears that she would be held back educationally were groundless.

"But my son didn't take to a composite class at all, when two years ago in P3 he had to go in with P4. Christopher didn't want to go to school and was even crying in the classroom. The school was completely different then. It wasn't as strict on discipline. He was quite a sensitive soul and there were quite a few toughies in P4. It seemed to overwhelm him. It was about January before he settled down, but there seem to be no lasting effects.

"I would prefer if they were in straight classes, so that they could go through school in the same group and not be split up. I'm the type who complains if I've got problems, but I'd say the teachers cope quite admirably with these classes."

Yvonne McEwan, whose daughter entered a composite class at Park primary last year, said: "I was a bit apprehensive, wondering if they would get the correct level of work for their ability. Donna was P2 in with P1s, who need a lot of help in their first year. It turned out I had no need to worry. Her work progressed well. I was worried that she wouldn't settle and would be held back by young kids but now I think I worried for nothing.

"I'm not sure that I would want a composite class up to 30, but, having said that, everyone works at different levels in a straight class anyway, so I don't think it would bother me that much."

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