Class Compositions

Groups of pupils who begin primary school together during a single school year are referred to as a stage. Stages are normally referred to as Primary 1 to Primary 7. Classes are formed in two ways –

  • A single stage class contains children from one stage – for instance all from Primary 4. Within each stage there will be a range of ages, abilities and stages of development.
  • A composite class contains children from more than one stage – for instance a class with some Primary 2 pupils and some Primary 3 pupils. This does not mean that the children in Primary 3 are being held back to repeat learning.

This may vary from year to year, dependent on numbers of pupils at each stage.

Why are composite classes formed?

Schools are staffed to agreed standards, mainly based on the number of pupils in the school. However, the number of children in each stage will vary. For example, there may be 17 Primary 2 pupils and 39 Primary 3 pupils. National agreements on class sizes mean that it would not be possible to form a Primary 2 class of 17 and a Primary 3 class of 39. Instead the school might form a composite class containing 17 Primary 2 pupils and 8 Primary 3 pupils with one teacher and the remaining 31 pupils would become a Primary 4 class with another teacher. This means that Head Teachers are making decisions to organise the classes to make best use of available staff, resources and space to meet pupils’ needs.

How do we ensure that all pupils are working at the appropriate level?

Curriculum for Excellence guidelines require that every pupil should have learning experiences which are appropriate to their own level of development. Every pupil follows a planned programme of learning that aims to help them progress and achieve their potential. This applies whether your child is in a composite class or a single year group class.

Glashieburn will also provide opportunities for pupils from the same stage to work together as collaboration is part of our shared vision. In this way pupils will continue to identify with their own year group, especially at important times such as transfer to secondary school.

ou should know that research commissioned by the Scottish Executive concluded that “there is no evidence to show that composite classes affect pupils adversely. It is possible that pupils may gain socially from the experience.” This is borne out by the findings of HMIE inspections in schools.

How many pupils are in a composite class?

The conditions of service for teachers set a maximum class size for a composite class of 25 pupils.

For single stage classes, the legal maximum is –

Primary 1 – 25 pupils          Primary 2 & 3 – 30 pupils

Primary 4, 5, 6 & 7 -33 pupils

How are composite classes formed?

At Glashieburn we take a great deal of time over class compositions. Primarily we look at Reading and Numeracy groupings and then friendship grouping wherever possible.  However, we can not guarantee that children will be with all their friends.

Pupils do not spend all of their time in school as a class unit – they spend time in the playground mixing with all of the school’s other pupils. Additionally, as previously mentioned our collaborative approach to learning at Glashieburn ensures children mix outwit their classes- and this is particularly encouraged where composite classes are formed.

Our staff will ensure that your child will always work within a programme appropriate for his/her age, ability and aptitude. Also our staff will always support pupils in forming and developing friendships.

If you require any more information about class structure any member of our Senior Leadership Team will be happy to meet with you to discuss class structure and your child’s progress.


Jesmond Drive, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. AB22 8UR.