At The Beaulieu Park School we support the in-school learning of our students through a comprehensive and effective Homework programme that:
- provides students with opportunities to refine and extend their knowledge and skills
- helps them to acquire the habits of mind needed to study and learn independently (as required in higher education)
- increases students’ chances of securing top examination grades (research suggests that the more Homework a student does, the better their achievement)
- teaches students the benefits of application, self-motivation, initiative and resourcefulness, essential in all walks of life
- enhances the classroom experience for students and teachers.
Effective and routine Homework is essential for ensuring a continuous, positive loop whereby the classroom experience sparks curiosity, leading to Homework which informs the next lesson. Once the cycle operates seamlessly, students acquire knowledge, skills and character.
The Beaulieu Park School Homework tasks are set regularly in each subject for all students. We do not publish a Homework Timetable. It is important that homework is regular and most importantly relevant. The constraints of a timetable can mean that if a lesson / topic in school takes more or less time than expected, the homework slot identified on the timetable may not align with what has been covered in school. Teachers need the flexibility to set homework at the most appropriate point(s).
In Year 7 students are expected to spend approximately 1 hour each evening on Homework activities. Each subject will set homework regularly. This will be more frequent for subjcets that are taught more often than for those that are taught less often. In addition, all Year 7 students are expected to read regularly and are set spellings and Accelerated Reader homework each week. Students must bring the book that they are currently reading to school each day, and to arrive at each lesson prepared to begin silent reading.
By Year 9, students are set around 2 hours of Homework per night. The Institute of Education’s EPPIE Project (2011) showed that 14 year olds spending 2 hours per evening on such tasks were assessed at almost a whole national curriculum level higher in Maths at the end of key stage 3 than similar students who were not set homework, 0 .75 of a level higher in Science and 0.6 of a level higher in English.
At KS4 students are expected to spend 10-14 hours a week on HW (2 hours each for English, Maths and Science and between 1-2 hours on each of the options subjects).
The nature of tasks set
Teachers give careful consideration to the tasks they set and their purpose. Homework tasks are never set as an after-thought; they are an integral part of the week’s lesson planning. Activities set are never just “finishing off” tasks (although they may be completion of activities started in class if this is pre-planned.)
It is the role of the teacher to explain the exact purpose of a Homework task to the students and to ensure that it is uploaded onto Showmyhomework.
Researchers recommend that Homework tasks are varied and that, where possible, choice is offered, for example in the task undertaken or the way that research is presented.
Four common and effective types of Homework are:
- Preparation: Some Homework is designed to prepare the student for the next lesson, for example the teacher may get students to research the concept of global warming prior to systematically studying it in class or a group may be required to read the next two chapters of a novel in preparation for a class discussion. This type of Homework is crucial to the practice of students playing a proactive role in and having responsibility for the effectiveness of the learning activities of lessons. At The Beaulieu Park School all students are expected to come to every lesson fully prepared, having completed any pre-reading, being fully equipped with the information required for activities they will participate in and having given thought to the concepts that will be further explored. For their part, teachers come to every lesson prepared to draw out from students the lesson learnt from their Homework.
- Practice: Some Homework tasks provide students with an opportunity to practice a skill, e.g. practising shading in Art, practising a scale in Music, practising a serve in tennis, completing self-directed learning tasks using software packages or practicing conjugating a verb in languages. These tasks are designed to provide the opportunity for increasing speed and improving accuracy and fluency. When Homework is assigned for the purposes of practice, it should be structured around content with which the students have a high degree of familiarity. Practising a skill with which a student is unfamiliar is not only inefficient but might also serve to habituate errors or misconceptions. Skills should be learnt to the level that students can perform them quickly and accurately. To facilitate skill development, students should be encouraged to keep track of their speed and accuracy. Research tells us that it is not until students have practiced upwards of about 24 times that they reach 80% competency. Practice needs to be deliberate, focused practice to ensure mastery. Hattie (2011) calls this ‘overlearning’: this is ‘what happens when we reach a stage of knowing what to do without thinking about it, reducing the load on our thinking and cognition, allowing us to attend to new ideas.’
- Elaboration on what has been learnt in class. This type of Homework is designed to ensure that the student processes the information in order to deepen their understanding. It enables the teacher to gauge the level of the student’s confidence with new information and depth of understanding. Some suggested general Homework tasks designed to apply and reinforce knowledge gained & concepts learnt in class are:
- In 50 words, explain to an imaginary 8 year old brother what you have learnt today. The word and age limit require the student to think hard and process and translate the information into simple language. Rather than regurgitating technical language, they have to explain it, so demonstrating their understanding.
- Explain what you have learnt to a parent/carer and write a short explanation for your parent/carer to sign and comment on – a great way to engage the parent/carer in their child’s learning.
- Choose two questions in your textbook, one easy and one hard. Don’t answer them but explain why the easy one is easy and why the other isn’t.
4. Exploration: This provides an opportunity for students to explore topics of their own interest and delve into an area of study in more detail that time allows for in the curriculum, so broadening their knowledge e.g. researching marriage rituals in a different religion than the one studied in class, reading another novel by an author whose work is being studied in class. It affords students the opportunity and space to become expert researchers and to report back to their peers is important. It is excellent preparation for students to take the lead as ‘teacher’ in lessons e.g. conducting an experiment or giving a demonstration. Exploration tasks allow teachers to stretch students (and themselves!) and encourage them to engage in further reading and teacher challenges. They are an excellent way to extend students towards A and A* grades.
Teachers are expected to give careful thought to differentiation of Homework tasks to maximise their impact on students’ progress and learning. Activities should be challenging and serve to stretch students, but not so difficult that they cannot be completed independently with a relatively high success rate. Activities must be accessible to students at differing attainment levels and those with EAL. Homework may use the differentiated headings of Hot, Medium and Mild to indicate the level of difficulty.
Resources to Support Homework
A: Completing Homework in the The Beaulieu Park School library.
All students are welcome to take advantage of the library as an ideal space in which to complete Homework tasks. The library is open before school from 8am and each evening until 6pm. In addition to this, we operate timetabled after school homework clubs.
In 2001, research by MacBeath, Kirwan and Myers (University of Strathclyde) showed that students who attended homework clubs gained on average one extra GCSE grade C+ and that attendance had a favourable affect on attitudes to school.
B: Completing Homework in an ICT room
Students are encouraged to use pcs in and adjacent to the Library before school, during lunchtimes and after school to access Homework software, to access resources.
Setting Homework Tasks
Staff set Homework activities at the most logical point in the lesson, but never in a rush at the end. They are expected to ensure that every student is aware of the homework and that it is uploaded to the smhw online programme.
Monitoring the recording and completion of Homework Tasks
Form tutors ensure that each tutee has access to smhw.
Form tutors liaise with parents / carers regarding general homework concerns and / or difficulties.
Middle and Senior Leaders conduct book looks, student voice interviews and regular monitoring of smhw.
Discussion of Homework Activities
At The Beaulieu Park School all staff engage in learning dialogues with students. They encourage students to see the importance of Homework and to support them with it by finding opportunities to discuss the activities they are engaged in, for example when on break duty, having lunch with students or supporting them in the Library etc.
Consequences of failing to submit a Homework task by the deadline
If a student experiences difficulty in completing a Homework task he/she is expected to see the teacher who set the activity before the day when it is due in for assistance/clarification. If a student arrives at a lesson without completed Homework, the teacher will set a same day 30 minute homework detention.
The school behaviour policy will be applied for students that repeatedly choose to not complete homework.
Parental involvement in Homework
It is important that a description of the types of parental involvement that are and are not acceptable when it comes to Homework is provided. While it is certainly legitimate to inform parents/carers of the Homework tasks assigned, and they can play a valuable role in facilitating the learning, it is important that they do not help with the tasks. Parents should not solve content problems for students.
Parents/carers can support their child with his/her Homework activities by
- helping to set up a consistent and organised place for them to complete tasks at home
- helping them to establish a regular routine for the completion of Homework tasks
- encouraging, motivating and prompting them, but not sitting with them while they complete tasks
- talking to them about which tasks they found straightforward, which were difficult, how they coped with the challenge, what they learnt etc.
- ensuring that they stop working at bedtime
- letting the relevant teacher know if they experience significant difficulty in completing Homework tasks