Homework plays an important part in children’s learning. It works best when its purposes are clear; there is a genuine partnership between pupils, parents/carers and teachers; the roles of each is laid out clearly and the type of support available is comprehensive and clear.
Research shows conclusively that regular homework makes a difference to pupils’ attainment, grades and progress. Therefore, carefully considered homework programmes should be seen as making an important contribution to pupils’ learning and, of equal importance, their potential to succeed beyond school in an increasingly competitive employment market and further education system.
PURPOSES OF HOMEWORK
Homework has several purposes. It should help and support pupils to:
- Become confident individuals, responsible citizens and successful learners
- Develop independent learning skills and skills for life such as researching and organising
- Develop confidence to overcome difficulties and solve problems
- Reinforce and review work done in class
- Prepare for tests and examinations
- Master areas of the curriculum and skills with which they are having difficulty or need to improve
- Catch up on tasks or parts of courses they have not completed, or covered due to absence.
Homework can also be given when a pupil has not completed a sufficient amount of work in class in the time given to ensure he/she keeps up with the work of the class.
Homework should enable parents/carers to:
- Be involved in and support their child’s learning
- Have a dialogue with the school about their child’s learning
- Keep in touch with what their child is learning.
TYPES OF HOMEWORK
Where possible, teachers should aspire to provide homework which is stimulating, thought provoking and challenging and which encourages pupils to explore, create and discover things for themselves through research, projects, activities and wider reading. Ideally, pupils should have the opportunity to use (or be directed towards) the resources available in their local community: local libraries, museums, industry/places of employment, sites of historical significance, the landscape; indeed anything that will encourage them to view learning as taking place in a wider context beyond the confines of school. However, rote learning and reinforcement tasks are perfectly appropriate types of homework within the right context.
The amount of homework pupils receive will depend on a number of factors:
- Stage of schooling. In general pupils will receive more homework as they move through the school into the senior school from S4.
- Ability of pupil. The amount of homework a pupil gets will sometimes depend on their ability level within a subject. For example, more able pupils may receive more homework and relatively speaking more challenging homework at certain points.
- Subject. Some subjects lend themselves more to regular homework than others. For example, in earlier years homework in practical subjects (like Technical and Music) may be less frequent due to the nature of the subject and the course.
However, pupils will receive homework in all subjects from S1. At this stage it is important to build on good habits formed in Primary school and increase the challenge. As pupils move up the school, the amount of homework will increase. There will also be an understanding that ongoing revision and preparation for final examinations will form a part of this, over and above regular set homework. Pupils should see ongoing revision and practise as part of their expected homework routine and not leave this to the weeks running up to examinations. Pupils will receive subject specific advice about this and more general practical advice about strategies and how to manage this through their Social Education programme.
However, most important of all, it is the quality of homework. Nevertheless, there is a section at the end of this policy which outlines departmental approaches to homework including the quantity and frequency that may be given at each stage.
Each pupil in S1-S4 will be issued with a Pupil Planner at the beginning of the session and be given advice about how to use it properly and effectively. All teachers should ensure that all homework is recorded in Planners. If a pupil does not have their Planner, the class teacher should check that they have it the following lesson. If they do not, the Principal Teacher should be notified. If a pupil forgets their Planner twice in one month a standard letter will be sent home to parents.
S1-S4 Planners will be checked once a week during Period 1 Enrichment. Pupils who forget their planners will be asked to bring them the following day. If pupils forget their Planner twice in a month this will be reported to the school office and a letter will be sent home. In addition, if pupils are not using their planners to record homework, parents will be informed.
The school office will keep a record of letters sent home.
Pastoral Care staff will be responsible for following up issues regarding planners.
Planners are given free to pupils. However, in the event that it is lost, another one can be purchased from the school office for £2 (subject to availability).
In session 2012-2013, a pilot will be carried out with S5 and S6 students giving them the option of using their mobile phone to record homework. The option of a Planner will still be offered. The normal rules regarding use of mobile phones will still obtain; pupils should only bring out phones in class for the sole purpose of recording homework. This pilot will be reviewed at the end of the session.
SUPPORT FOR PUPILS
It is our aim to be as supportive as possible and responsive to pupils’ needs in the setting and management of homework. A range of mechanisms are in place to support pupils who are encountering difficulty with homework. First and foremost, teachers will try to ensure that instructions concerning homework are clear to everyone in the class, and that all pupils have plenty of time to note down what is expected.
PUPILS WITH ADDITIONAL NEEDS
Extra care should be taken when setting homework for pupils with additional needs. Just as work in the class needs to be differentiated, so does homework. The ‘Red Folder’ details the needs of individual pupils and is an invaluable source of information to ensure homework tasks are appropriate and, where necessary, differentiated or modified. Staff should ensure pupils with additional needs:
- fully understand the task set
- have sufficient time to note the homework task accurately and fully in their Planner/mobile
- have collected any necessary worksheets, resources, equipment, etc needed for the completion of the task
- are given appropriate homework tasks. Staff should be aware that specific difficulties make particular types of homework unsuitable for certain pupils. If unsure, staff should discuss the needs of the pupil with a member of the Additional Support for Learning Department who may be able to recommend a similar level of homework in a different format.
In addition, Pastoral Care staff will advise teachers about particular pupils for whom homework may be difficult or inappropriate at various points due to challenging home circumstances.
AFTER SCHOOL CLUB
A voluntary After School Club runs every Wednesday and Thursday from September through to March from 3.30-4.30pm in the school library. This is staffed by S6 students and teachers and is open to all pupils but should be recommended to specific pupils at the teacher’s discretion. The club has been re-launched this session (2012-2013) after extensive consultation with pupils and now has a more informal atmosphere. Snacks and drinks are provided beforehand and pupils can get help with homework or classwork from either S6 students or staff.
Teachers are very willing to help pupils who are having difficulty with homework and often set aside time to assist individuals or small groups. Pupils should never be afraid to ask for help. Several subjects run lunchtime or after school support classes. Details of these can be found on the school’s website (www.stjosephscollege.co.uk) under ‘Key Information for Parents’.
Some pupils in the senior school (S4-S6) can often be asked to complete a substantial amount of homework in any given night or week. Deadlines for courses have to be met and teachers have the professional overview for what needs to be done. However, lengthy and substantial pieces of homework should not be given for the following day (see Frequency). Pupils should be encouraged to speak to staff if they feel they have too much homework for the following day.
SUPPORT FOR PARENTS
Parents have a significant role to play in pupils’ learning and supporting pupils at home really improves their chances of success. In addition, research has shown that regular homework makes a significant difference to pupils’ progress and learning. However, parents are often unsure of the best ways to support their children’s homework. The following advice is a summary of that provided in a leaflet entitled ‘How to Support your Child with Homework’. Clearly, older pupils will need less (if any) support.
- If possible provide your child with a suitable place to complete homework and the materials they require.
- Take an interest in your child’s homework and talk to them about it. This conveys the message that homework matters and you care.
- Encourage your child to establish a routine for homework; doing it at the same time every evening. Ensure that they avoid leaving homework until the night before it is due and/or until just before they go to bed.
- It is recommended that your child leaves their phone in another room while completing homework to avoid distractions.
- Check your child’s Planner regularly. Check that it is being used and that homework is being recorded in enough detail.
- Avoid being negative about what they are doing. Provide encouragement and give support not criticism (where possible).
- Have high expectations. Expect your child to make a good effort with their homework, to take pride in it and to lay it out neatly.
- Be alert to signs of tiredness and frustration. If they are tired perhaps it will be better to leave homework until the following evening.
- Offer to support your child but don’t do homework for them. Suggest how they might find the answer for themselves. If you can, work through an example with them. Talk to them about what they are doing. Check it over with them once completed.
- You are not expected nor is it necessary for you to know how to do all of the homework your child is set.
- Do not hesitate to contact the school if you are concerned about any aspect of homework or problems your child may be having with it.
- As children get older, they will be less likely to want to discuss homework or ask for help. Do your best to keep the lines of communication open about homework regardless of their age.
DIFFERENT ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE HOMEWORK PARTNERSHIP
Role of Pupil
- To submit homework on time
- To complete homework to the best of their ability
- To complete homework in good time and not to leave it to the last minute before it is due
- To bring their Planner to school every day
- To use the Planner/phone to record homework and to check it on a daily basis
- To catch up on work missed due to absence
Role of Parent/Carer
- To take an interest in their child’s homework
- To check their child’s Planner is being used and to sign it every week
- To provide a suitable environment for the completion of homework, where possible
- To support their child in establishing a routine for homework
- To communicate with the school any concerns they might have about homework
- To set high standards regarding effort put into homework and its quality
Role of Subject Teacher
- To have high expectations about the quality of homework
- To follow department/faculty policy in the setting and marking of homework
- To explain the purpose of homework to pupils
- To provide clear criteria (ideally after dialogue with pupils) about what constitutes success in homework tasks
- To ensure that there is time during lessons to explain homework fully
- To ensure that all homework is entered into Planners or mobile phones
- To provide homework which is interesting, stimulating and challenging where possible
- To provide homework that is set at the right level and is appropriate for the ability range in their classes
- To provide a reasonable and manageable timescale for significant or lengthy pieces of homework
- To provide extra support and advice about homework for pupils who need it
- To support pupils to catch up on work missed due to absence
- To provide feedback on homework appropriate to the task set
- To report to parents homework progress and performance through reports
- To be aware of the homework demands placed on many pupils in the senior school
- To follow the department/faculty policy on non completion of homework/homework not completed to a satisfactory standard.
- To communicate concerns, where appropriate, about pupils’ non completion of or the poor quality of their homework to the relevant Pastoral Care teacher
Role of Principal Teacher Curriculum
- To establish procedures for monitoring the faculty’s homework policy
- To support subject teachers with the implementation of this policy
- To contact parents, where necessary, using department procedures
- To be the first line of support for subject teachers encountering difficulty with pupils not completing homework
Role of Principal Teacher Pastoral Care
- To alert staff to issues which may affect individual pupil’s ability to complete homework, or its quality (eg home circumstances, bereavement)
- To follow up concerns from subject teachers or Principal Teachers of Curriculum regarding the quality of, or non completion of homework
- To provide advice and support to pupils encountering difficulty with aspects of homework
SUBJECT BY SUBJECT HOMEWORK INFORMATION
On the following pages there is a description of the type and amount of homework that can be expected in each subject from S1-S6.
CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCE: NEW COURSES
S4 Pupils will be presented for Standard Grade for the final time this session (2012-2013). From next session, Standard Grades will be replaced by new courses called National 3-5. Further details about these courses will be provided to parents at various points throughout the rest of this session.