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Curtin University of Technology
Twins and Multiples

Developing a School policy regarding multiples

Click here to download School Policy. (119k pdf)

International difference

There are significant differences between countries in the level at which school policy around separation is made. While this is only a generalisation, in the UK the policy tends to operate at the level of individual schools, hopefully realizing the need to work more with parents to decide what is best for this set of multiples this particular year. Australia had a series of workshops in each state in 1990 on 'Twins in School' and some states such as Queensland chose to issue a formal directive from the Education Department that there must be no fixed policy and that the needs and wishes of each family must be recognized individually. The situation has changed in the USA recently, with several states, starting with Minnesota passing legislation that the wishes of the family must be taken into account.

Choosing a school

We have chosen to follow the same structure of schools that we described as the model for how twins may relate differently to each other in different families. The following taxonomy of school type has been developed to move away from just considering how many classes each year group has. Schools that mainly view multiples as a natural unit or couple are described as "closely coupled". Schools that mainly view multiples as individuals are described as "Extreme Individual " and schools that take into account the development and needs of each set of multiples in their school and adopt a flexible approach to separation, are described as "Flexible" schools.

School Type Based Upon Attitude To Multiple Birth Children

Extreme Individualising SchoolsFlexible SchoolsClosely Coupling Schools

Multiple birth children are always separated as it is believed that this will help the children to develop as individuals.

Schools may not:

  • acknowledge the multiple relationship and the possible need for the children to be near each other or to be able to check out what the other is doing
  • take into account that one child may be affected by the other e.g. by being extremely competitive or by opting out
  • support the children personally, socially and emotionally in order to develop as individuals

The school is aware of the potential needs of multiple birth children and their families.

  • Parents and children?s views with regard to separation are taken into consideration.
  • The children are assessed to consider whether separation is appropriate when they start school.
  • Arrangements can be changed according to the needs of the children.
  • The multiple birth relationship is acknowledged and celebrated as well as enabling children to develop as individuals.
  • The children are recognised and called by name.
  • Individual achievements are recognised and celebrated
  • The children are comfortable selecting the same or similar subjects/activities understanding that being an individual may mean doing the same

Multiple birth children are always kept together as it is believed that they are a natural unit.

Schools may not:

  • recognise individuals
  • call individuals by name
  • assess the children separately
  • report on their progress separately
  • recognise individual problems and issues
  • provide for multiple birth children as individuals e.g. when one has a special need

Although single form entry schools do not have the option of separating multiple birth children into separate classes, they may be assessed according to the categories in the table. Children may be placed in separate groups, rather than separate classes and staff attitude to multiple birth children may also be assessed. For example, if staff are unable to identify multiple birth children and call them by name, they may be treating the children as a unit rather than as individuals. Rather than simply considering whether schools have enough classes for separation, parents may wish to visit prospective schools in order to decide which "type" the school appears to be and whether it is likely to meet the needs of their multiple birth children. Schools considering how to meet the needs of multiple birth children may also first wish to consider what sort of school they would like to be as measured against the descriptors in the table.

Delayed School Entry

Many multiple birth children are born prematurely. As well as physical disabilities resulting from prematurity and low birthweight, the actual date of birth may be extremely important. Premature children may be forced into the school year above their "correct" year if they are born several months early. This may result in the children being assessed as behind their peers, when in reality they are being compared with an older age group. When assessing premature children, it may be helpful to compare them with the year group below, to see if their development and performance is more in line with this year group. Parents and educators may consider applying for delayed school entry, or for additional time in the early years setting in order to allow such children further time to develop.