Toongabbie Public School

Learn to live and live to learn

Telephone02 9631 3079

Student program

Composite classes 

Mixed-Age Classes Combining multiple ages or year levels in a class is not a new move by schools. You may have taught such a class, or even been part of one as a child. What is relatively new is a development in the reasons for forming combined classes, and therefore the teaching philosophy used. You may hear such classes referred to as:

  • Multi-age
  • Family grouping Nongraded Vertical grouping
  • Combined grades Multi-level Multi-grades
  • Composite class / Split class

Some educational systems practice multi-age classrooms as a philosophy with these classes remaining together over a period of years. For the Department of Education of NSW there is an inter-change of the terms "composite" and "multi-age" to describe class groups of children of different ages or stages in learning.
At the beginning of a new school year, many parents might find their child has been allocated to a composite class. Naturally, questions arise:

  • Will my child be disadvantaged in some way?
  • Will my child be held back if they are in the older group?
  • For the younger group - will my child be able to keep up?

Composite classes have been the source of much controversy over the years, with parents often believing that their offspring is being disadvantaged in some way by being in one. The key to understanding composites is realising that growth is determined in stages and not magically by ages.

Researchers generally agree that students in multi-age / composite classes are selected because they demonstrate higher application in:

  1. study habits
  2. social interaction
  3. self-motivation
  4. independence
  5. responsibility
  6. confidence
  7. co-operation
  8. attitudes toward school
  9. role modelling

It can also be the case that specific students are placed in composites so that they can learn appropriate learning behaviour from those around them. So don't be too disappointed if your child is not placed in a composite class as it doesn't mean your child is not responsible, lacking in social skills or self motivation nor if they are placed in such a group does it mean that they are of above or below average intelligence. As with all class placements it just means that the school has looked at what it is the most appropriate class to enable these to students to experience success.