Each year, schools work collaboratively to create classes that are balanced and provide a culture for all learners to thrive in. Teachers, principals and district specialty staff begin this process in the spring of the previous school year and invest a great deal of thought and effort into making the best educational decisions for organizing and placing students into classes.

Multi age/combined configurations are done with great care, and are very common across West Vancouver, the province, and country.

Factors that our elementary schools consider for classroom configuration and placement include:

• Unique individual needs
• Learning styles
• Class size and composition requirements
• Enrollment demands
• Social/emotional needs
• Past friendships and possibility of new and fresh friendships
• Parental input

When school staff return in September, changes to school enrolment have often occurred over the summer. Changes include new families registering and other families informing the school that they will no longer be returning. This sometimes means that new class configurations and placements need to occur at this point in time. Schools then require time to make thoughtful adjustments. Students often will not be placed in their new classrooms until the end of the first week of school. This allows students, returning and newly arrived to interact, engage and connect during these first few days of the school year.

How to support your child in a “combined/multi- age classroom”

Often the terms “combined/multi-aged classes” and “split classes” are used synonymously. In West Vancouver Schools, there is an important distinction to be made. The term “split class” refers to two separate grade groups housed within one classroom. Each of these groups are taught separately from the other and rarely is their entire class taught together.

Importantly, in WVS “combined/multi-age classrooms,” are viewed as one learning community where parts of the curriculum are taught together. A distinction in actual grades is made for the purposes of student assessment and evaluation.

The BC Ministry of Education curriculum is “spiralled”. A spiral curriculum is defined as a course of study in which students will see the same topics throughout their school career, with each encounter increasing in complexity and reinforcing previous learning. Hence, another benefit to combined/multi-aged classrooms in the province. See

All of our teachers strive to meet each child where they are with their learning regardless of their grade level and provide them with learning opportunities accordingly.

Multi-grade Classes

S. Veenman completed a research paper on multigrade classes in 1995. He reviewed fifty-six studies from twelve countries, including Canada. Forty-eight multi-grade classes were studied. Thirty eight of the fifty six studies looked at the overall achievement in math, reading and language. Of the thirty eight studies, twenty eight found no overall effects on achievement. In four other studies, significant and positive effects were found favouring multi-age classes. Eleven other studies found no significant difference in cognitive achievement, whereas in the non-cognitive area, multi-age classes generally scored higher.

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