Class list Jenga

This week, many mums in Dubai found out which classes their children are going to be in from September.

Each year (and for Son1, it is an annual event), the release of the class lists is an eagerly anticipated event. Mums anxiously pore over the role calls; they take photos of the lists, and discuss at the school gate who little Sylvie will be mixing with next year.

(Believe me, I’ve seen mums sobbing over this).

As for the children, I’m not convinced they’re as bothered as the mums.

It might be different for girls, but for boys, shaking up the classes doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal – especially in a society as fluid as ours, where numerous children leave at the end of the school year anyway and September always sees a fresh crop.

Circles of friends are given a shake, rattle and roll
Circles of friends are given a shake, rattle and roll, with no bribes accepted

Son1 was given the chance to pick three friends he wants in his class next year, and the letter said they’d try to make sure he’s in the same class as at least one. (I hear some schools in the UK even let you name one child you’d rather not be with).

There follows a process of list building that I can only imagine is like playing Jenga, with the teachers not only taking friendship groups into account, but also gender balance, ability mix and personality clashes.

Far from just bunging the names in a bag and pulling them out, the decision-making must get complicated: “Sylvie makes Tallulah cry so we should split them, and we’d better share out Boris, Hugo and Tarquin because they’re gifted and talented – almost fluent in Mandarin with rocket-scientist aspirations – and make sure the football squad aren’t all in the same class.”

Repeat x140 children per year.

But, as I said, for us mums, that moment when the list is released can be a little tense. My eyes rapidly scanned the names of the children– of whom son1 knows about three, and (because we all know this is important too) I know one of the mums. Not bad at all.

Happy mixing kiddos!

6 thoughts on “Class list Jenga

  1. So interesting to hear – we’ve had the same going on – they get to choose five friends they want to be with, and end up with one or two. Then there is the drama over which teacher they’re getting. I try to be philosopical about it all – your child might not get the lovely teacher everyone wants, but in life you have to experience all kinds of people, including teachers! In the US, they didn’t tell us until the last day of the holidays in case anyone complained…..

  2. Cherry says:

    I love hearing these things! Calais’ French school is so small that they only ever have 1 class for each of the eight grade levels. The children have the same classmates each year. Yes, they have kids leaving every 2-4 years due to job transfers so the classes get pretty tiny by the end.

    • You must get to know the mums well – and that’s really nice. To begin with, I went to all the coffee mornings, etc, but then, what with going back to work and realising that the mums change each year, I find I don’t really know many in Son1’s classes now. Plus, he’s on a bus, so I have little contact – I’m always relying on him to pass envelopes with money along!!

  3. I remember some of this drama, but as a teacher myself, I tried to stay out of it for the most part, not wanting to contribute to what I knew must have been a huge headache for the teachers and administration. The worst times were when there were more children than anticipated at the beginning of the school year and some of the children would have to be moved to a different class after a few days because a new teacher would have to be hired to meet required class size. This was always taken in stride by the children, but the parents practically had nervous breakdowns about it – you would have thought their children were being torn away from blood relatives instead of a teacher they’d known for 3 days. Don’t know about the UK, but in the US, there are so many rules and regulations that go into class design – not just balancing gender and ability, but also special needs and minority/ethnic status – once that’s all done, it’s a miracle to me that anyone ever gets the teacher they want at all! So much easier in high school!

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