Mixed-age classes in Isle of Man schools to increase
Mixed-age classes are to become more widespread in Isle of Man schools in response to falling rolls, according to the Manx education minister.
Eddie Teare MHK has admitted that the policy will require fewer teachers, but denied that it was being introduced solely as a cost-cutting measure.
Parents have voiced concerns that some pupils' education will suffer.
But Mr Teare has quoted Ofsted findings that show most mixed age schools achieve higher than average results.
Mr Teare said that some of the island's smaller schools had traditionally used mixed-age classes and that they found "it often enriches the quality of the education offered to pupils and contributes to high standards of achievement".
"There is also evidence that children's social and inter-personal skills develop more rapidly in mixed-age settings," he said.
He said that most teachers, who would be affected from September, had already been redeployed.
"While it's true that we are having to look for economies at present, the demographic trend means this was inevitable regardless of the current financial situation we find ourselves in, as there has been a downward trend in pupil numbers at many schools and therefore a clear need to restructure," he said.
He pointed to an Ofsted review of its inspections of mixed-age class schools, which showed 7 to 11-year-olds achieving above average standards in the majority of schools.