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Keep reception classes the same - West Jesmond Primary School

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To Mr Gary Wallis-Clarke and the Chair of the Board of Governors, West Jesmond Primary School

This letter is being sent to you to raise our concerns about plans to mix up the reception classes as our children move into year 1 (in September 2014). Many of us have children in older years whose classes have been mixed up for the first time at the end of year 2, and while we understand the reasons why this happens at that age the children have still found it an upsetting and unsettling period. The children in reception are much younger, some still only four, and we are very worried about the negative impact that this mixing-up could have on our children's academic, social and emotional development and wellbeing. Many of the children took a long time to settle into reception. Moving into year 1, they will already be faced with meeting a new teacher and moving away from learning through play to taking on more academic subjects. These two changes alone constitute a significant change and challenge for them. We worry that adding new social groupings to the challenge may add an unnecessary burden, which could cause stress and upset, as well as possibly impacting on their ability to engage effectively in learning.

Mixing up classes at the end of the reception year presents a significant change to the normal processes followed previously at West Jesmond. The school newsletter (dated 19th June 2014) stated that “it is time to mix up the classes again for next year”. It was not very clear that this also included reception and, due to the letter’s wording, many reception parents will not even realise that this change to process is even planned this year. As parents, we are disappointed that we have been made aware of this change so late in the school year, giving us little time to prepare our children appropriately. Indeed, many of us, anticipating the leap from reception to year 1 as it already stood, have been assuring our children that, while they will no longer have the same teacher in year 1, they will at least stay with their friends. We feel that we should have been given the opportunity to discuss this matter with the board of governors and the school before any decision was made, and that the views of the reception year parents should have been represented. It appears that a significant decision has been made will little or no evidence of appropriate consultation with parents, many of whom support the school in a wide range of ways to help it be as successful as it is proud to be.

We understand that meeting other children in the school is important for children in the older years, and helps them develop valuable social skills, but no explanation has been provided as to the rationale for this decision for the reception children. We, the undersigned, strongly feel that consistency is important for these younger children as they continue to settle into the routine of school and understand the complexities of friendship and socialising. Mixing up at this point is likely to set many of the children back in terms of feeling secure and attached in their school environment and we worry that this will impact on their academic success in year 1.

We hope that both the board of governors and the school will take our collective concerns seriously and reconsider the decision to mix the reception class children as they head into year 1.

Yours sincerely

The reception parents

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