If you’re a parent who has had problems with schools wanting to either separate or keep your twins or triplets together against your will, you are not alone.

A 2020 survey of almost 3,000 parents in 18 countries* by ICOMBO (International Council of Multiple Birth Organisations) revealed the issue is a global one.

Researchers looked at trends in the placement of multiple birth children in schools. Questions asked related to what issues parents had in obtaining their wishes with regard to their multiples’ placement in school and what documents existed to help parents.

First day of school for twin boys

This large-scale international survey revealed lots of common themes; parents saying they are not always listened to and citing gaps in knowledge and resources for parents to share with teachers.

It seems that most schools do not have a fixed policy on twins or triplets in class, but sometimes it was still difficult for parents to get what they wanted for their children.

More than half who completed the survey wanted their multiples together at some point during their schooling, with most wanting them together until the age of seven.

Forty percent wanted their twins or triplets separated.

The clear message from the international survey is that schools should be making placement decisions for multiple birth children based on the individual needs of each child. No two sets of multiples are exactly the same, so fixed school policies don’t take each child into consideration.

It is suggested in the survey that schools should respect the close bond multiples have, whilst also encouraging individual abilities and strengths. Read the full report here.

Visit our primary pages to see how we can help parents with twins, triplets or more. At Twins Trust we have resources parents and carers can use if they need to take issue with the school or education authority. You as parents, are the best to decide whether they should be kept together or apart.

First day of school for children

Opinions from multiple birth families around the world

“My identical twins have autism and ‘feed off’ each other so separating them was better for all involved.”

“We brought up the subject with the teachers involved and asked what their thoughts were before we said what our preferences are. They said that there was no need to separate unless we wanted them to be. We asked pros and cons for our school’s environment. Also, the twins didn’t want to be separated. It may change in following years. Each year will be decided one at a time.”

“My boys’ year 4 teacher suggested something for year 5. One had started hiding in the other’s shadow. The hiding one didn’t want to shoot up, but his brother did. We tried separating them and the hiding one blossomed and stepped up. He hasn’t looked back, although it was tricky that first year with vastly different styled teacher, but it was worth it. They’ve both achieved well.”

“The decision to separate my girls was based on very different academic abilities. One is average and one is gifted and talented. The one with age-appropriate skill compared herself to her sister leading to low self-esteem. Separation has been an excellent thing for them both.”

One American mum said: “The kindergarten teacher wanted to hold my son back because she was comparing him to his twin sister who was/is very social and a quick learner. I said, ‘Hell no!’ He did just fine academically and has just graduated from university!”

“We got school reports that clearly showed the teacher had no idea about which child was which and reports with different grades but identical comments and even a grade for a subject that one of the boys hadn’t taken due to an injury.”

*Countries include France, USA, Germany, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Japan and Spain.