Parents raise concerns after 3 grades combined into one at Toronto elementary school

Parents are raising concerns after a Toronto elementary school announced plans to combine several grades into one classroom with just one teacher.

The principal at Kensington Community School informed parents this past week that Grades 4, 5, and 6 will be combined into a single class next year.

Julia Dorfman expressed shock and frustration when she heard about the decision.

“How can one teacher be able to adequately educate three different grades of students and the different curriculum that those grades would be taught,” she tells 680 NewsRadio Toronto. “It’s just not a feasible recommendation from the TDSB [Toronto District School Board].”

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Byrd says the decision at Kensington was made due to small enrollment numbers because there just aren’t enough students in each of those grades to justify a single teacher.

“It’s not the usual approach but I want to assure people that it is not uncommon, it happens at a number of schools across the TDSB every year,” he said. “You’ll have in this specific class about 24 students and they’ll be well supported.”

The move to create ‘split grades’ or ‘multi-age classes’ is nothing new. A fact sheet put out by the TDSB says the practice has been going on in Ontario since the early 1950s and stems from the origins of the One Room Schoolhouse where all students from Grades 1 to 8 were in a single class.

As for questions about combined classes being detrimental to a child’s academic development, research conducted by the TDSB shows students in combined classrooms achieve as well academically as those in single-grade classrooms and appear to benefit from the spirit of cooperation and mutual help that exists in these settings.

Parents, such as Dorfman, say they plan to fight the move.

“I think the TDSB needs to be looking at different solutions.”

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