Forms of school organisation of classes

Single age classes

A class of pupils, often formed in a school with one form of entry at admission, in which all the pupils have birthdays in the same school year.

Mixed age classes

A class of pupils, common in schools which do not have one, simple form of entry at admission, in which the pupils have birthdays in more than one school year. Mixed age classes are very common in primary schools, particularly in small, rural schools.

Single sex classes

During the nineties there was widespread concern with boys' underachievement compared to girls as shown in school league tables for GCSE results. One strategy believed to combat this, and now practised in some secondary schools, is to have single sex classes which can focus on the interests and learning styles of the single sex group. This strategy is now also used in some primary schools although research is divided about its success.


An organisational device in which a judgement of 'general ability' is used to allocate the children in a school or year-group to broad groups for all teaching purposes. This approach was popular in the 1950s and early 1960s in preparation of some children for 11+ exams, though less able children often suffered from reduced self-esteem.

Mixed ability classes

Classes formed by a mixture of pupils attending a school, with no attempt at differentiation on the basis of attainment or ability. The most common form of class organisation in primary schools and valued for the sense of community and understanding of other which it can engender.


A process whereby children are taught a particular subject in groups, based on their attainment or on a judgement of ability. Once an important feature of traditional teaching and its suitability for some purposes is now being reconsidered.

Withdrawal for specialist help

In many schools children with special educational needs are withdrawn from some classes so that they can work with learning support staff in small groups or on a one-to-one basis.