Class organisation

Finchingfield St John the Baptist Primary Academy and Nursery is a smaller than average Church of England school. We currently have 40 children split into 3 classes and 8 children in our Nursery.  


Children at Finchingfield are taught in small classes with children from different year groups. This system is known as vertical grouping and is typical in small schools.


Maria Montessori found that next to learning from their own experience, the child learns best from other children. Therefore she created a mixed age group where the younger children imitate older and older children reinforce leadership skills by sharing their knowledge with the younger children. She strongly believed that vertical grouping was a part of children's natural development and that grouping children by their age was against our social nature as human beings. She believed that children should learn from their developmental starting point rather than their chronological age. Whilst we have a curriculum that identifies age related expectations, we know that children develop at different rates and vertical grouping enables the teacher to cater for these different needs and provide a more bespoke approach.


This works for us because the average class size at this school is only 14 and much lower than the national average. This means we can teach the same concept with the whole class but tailor and modify the teaching and activities based on each child's starting points. 


We also have the added benefit of children learning from each other. Apprentice learners absorb learning from those at a more advanced older children and they in turn have the opportunity to reinforce and embed their learning when working with younger learners.


We find that older children working with younger children also develops their empathy and communication skills makes for more rounded individuals.

   The class structure is as follows: