Your pregnancy and baby guideTwins at school

Every family's circumstances and needs are different, and it's a good idea to discuss your twins' options with schools before you apply.

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Every family's circumstances and needs are different, and it's a good idea to discuss your twins' options with schools before you apply.

About 80% of schools with more than 1 class in a year group give parents of twins the choice of whether to separate their twins or keep them together.

If a school only has 1 class in a year group, it will not be possible to split twins.

But some single-form schools are happy to do other things to help separate twins, such as putting them into different activity groups.

Making the right choice for your twins

Your decision to separate your twins or keep them together will be based on your twins' personalities, abilities and needs.

Involve your twins in the decision and listen to their preferences as to whether they want to stay together or go into separate classes at school.

Tamba (The Twins & Multiple Births Association) has a Primary and Secondary Schools Admissions and Appeals pack (PDF, 806kb), which can help you decide the best option for your family.

If there's the choice of separating your twins when they start school, you have 3 options:

  • start them together and plan for them to stay together
  • separate your twins from the start
  • start the twins together and then separate them later

Keeping twins together at school

A survey conducted by King's College London found that twins separated at the start of primary school had more emotional problems, on average, than twins who were kept together. This was particularly noticeable in identical twins.

Although not all twins were affected, and some may benefit from separation, it's important to take into account the personalities of your children when making your decision.

It's also helpful to discuss your children's wishes with them and take them into account when you make a decision.

The benefits of keeping twins together at school include:

  • Twins often settle faster in school if they're kept together. If they like being together, there are definite advantages to keeping them in the same class.
  • Twins who do not want to be separated may suffer if they're forced apart. This may only make them more dependent on each other.
  • If twins are highly dependent and would be distressed to be separated, it's better to keep them together.
  • If twins are highly competitive, it makes sense to separate them, but a mild rivalry can provide stimulation.

Separating twins

Around one-third of twins are currently separated in school. Advice from Tamba and the Multiple Births Foundation says that the benefits of this can include:

  • Recognising the wishes of multiples who may want to be separated.
  • If 1 child is noticeably more able, either socially or academically, than the other, separation can reduce the risk of comparisons and competition between the two.
  • Multiples may display disruptive behaviour when they're together.
  • If the children are too dependent on each other and are not separated, they may find it hard to mix with and relate to other children.
  • If they're in the same class, twins often strive to be the same, which can mean a more able twin underachieves, or the less able twin struggles to keep up.
  • Twins, particularly if they're identical, can use their similarity to confuse teachers and entertain other children, but this can be distracting and disruptive.
  • In boy and girl twins, the girl twin will tend to develop faster and this can lead to "mothering" behaviour, which may harm the boy's relationship with his peers.

If you decide to separate your twins, Tamba offers the following tips to help prepare them for being apart at school:

  • Discuss the separation with your twins.
  • Take them on separate outings and separate visits to their new school.
  • Choose different pre-school sessions and activities.
  • Allow them to spend time apart with grandparents.
  • Talk to teachers about allowing separated twins to have some contact during the day.

Delaying separating twins

If you choose to delay separation, it must be carefully timed to take place when a change would happen anyway, such as the end of a school year, otherwise 1 twin will remain with the same friends and teacher, while the other may feel rejected, as he or she is separated into a new environment.

Page last reviewed: 20/04/2016
Next review due: 20/04/2019