Parents’ perceptions of social-emotional issues in composite classes


Linley Cornish


This article is a companion article to Cornish (2011), reporting the results of a mixed-methods study in a large regional Australian primary school. Parents were surveyed to ascertain their perceptions of and concerns about composite classes in general, and about their own children being in such classes. Factor analysis revealed five factors perceived as relevant to the parents: Knowledge-experience of composite classes, their child’s holistic Development (academic and social), grade Identity, and being in either the Younger or Older grade of the class. Three significant relationships were identified by path analysis and subsequently explored by means of descriptive and qualitative analyses. In this article, I concentrate again on one conclusion from the literature review: Parents have a holistic concern for their child’s development in a composite class, that is, they have both academic and social concerns which are at least in part related to age and grade. This time, I discuss parents’ perceptions and concerns related to social and emotional development/issues in a composite class. In their written comments parents expressed definite views about composite classes and the effect on social-emotional development of being in the younger or older grade of a composite class. Specific concerns related to confidence, restricted friendship choice, loss of grade identity, exposure to inappropriate social behaviours (for younger-grade students), and engagement of older-grade students in nurturing youngergrade students.


Vol28_2_Linley_Cornish (262 downloads)

Keywords: composite classes, parent perceptions, academic concerns, social concerns