The Homework Results Are In...
"Have you got any homework?"
“Have you got any homework?” is probably a question parents and carers have always asked of our children since formal schooling began, and at Bradfield School, we make this a lot easier for parents to answer for themselves rather than relying on their teenager!
We reviewed our homework approaches last year. This involved consulting staff, students, parents and carers, looking at our own data on homework, and considering the external research on effective homework. You can read the results of this consultation in our July post Bradfield School - Doing our homework on homework
This post will share with you our updated approach as a result of this review. Homework is set on our homework platform Satchel One. Students log in using ‘Office 365’ choice not a separate password. They then use their school email details, which all students should have, including Year 7 students who received these in their IT lessons this week (w/c 11th September).
KS3 (Years 7 – 9)
Our students will be set a weekly homework in those subjects that they have 3 times a week, namely English, Maths, Science and a Modern Foreign Language. Homework should last no longer than 45 minutes and may be much shorter than that in line with the research that notes that quality is much more effective as a support to learning than quantity. The key aim of the homework will be to review prior learning, recall knowledge or practice applying knowledge. These homeworks will be mandatory and may lead to break detentions if regularly not completed. We say ‘may’ to ensure that teachers have taken the time to ensure that there are no barriers to the child completing the homework, which may range from technical issues with the homework platform, to cognitive issues with the difficulty of the homework – especially for some of our students with special educational needs. We have also agreed this year that a student will not be given a detention if the homework was set on a day that they were absent : we would encourage children to still absent attempt homework in this case, but we appreciate they will have missed the explanation of it in class.
All other subjects may set homework, including giving students a suite of options. The aim here is may well also be to recall knowledge, but also to engage students with what they are interested in, allowing them to focus on the subjects they love. Completed homework here will be rewarded but is not mandatory.
KS4 (Years 10 – 11)
The approach here does not change and all subjects leading to an examination will be set a weekly homework of up to an hour’s duration, with the key aim of the homework will be to review prior learning, recall knowledge or practice applying knowledge. The approach to missed homework leading to detentions runs as described above. In both KS3 and KS4, homework detentions will begin in October to allow students time to get into their routines after summer.
Subjects may formally assess as often as deemed useful by the subject lead, and low stakes tests and quizzes happen throughout the year. However, each year group has two calendared assessment periods over the year. In the lead up to these, all subjects at KS3 and KS4, will set homework to support students’ revision, calling it ‘revision’ rather than homework. Revision will not typically ask for something to be handed in but be tasks that guide students on what and how to revise, with the subsequent results of this seem in the formal test.
How staff respond to homework
It is a commonly held misconception that all homework handed in should receive written comments by a teacher. In some cases, that is appropriate as work may need individualised comments that then support learning. However, most homework will be more dynamically used to further students’ knowledge than the time lag between handing in a piece of work and receiving a written comment. By far the most common form of responding to homework is that where teachers set work that is self-marked either in class or on the homework platform itself. This allows the student to get instant feedback about what they know and can do, and the teacher important feedback on the same, allowing them to adjust their teaching content to address gaps in class. The homework may also be used, marked or read live in the lesson, again with teachers addressing gaps straight away. These approaches are more impactful on learning than written marking that will only be done when the teacher feels this is crucial to further students’ knowledge. We will continue to give positive homework points on ‘Bromcom’ (our management information system parents see at home through MCAS (My Child At School), usually given on the same day, with the same for negative points to mark incomplete homework for mandatory homework (all KS4 subjects and KS3 English, Maths, Science and Modern Foreign Languages). This will allow parents and carers to know the homework has been acknowledged.
How parents and carers can support with homework
Firstly, you can log in to Satchel One, our homework platform as a parent / carer. This will allow you to view what homework your child has been set. You can find details on how to do this here : Logging in as a parent | Satchel Help Center (satchelone.com) and all Year 7 parents should have had their parent code to do this earlier this week (w/c 11th September). Should you experience difficulties with this, please contact school on firstname.lastname@example.org
Secondly this year staff setting mandatory homework have shared with students the usual day of the week this will be set and which day it needs to be done by. You can find this on page 114 of your child’s planner. There may be occasions when staff deviate from these days – for instance if students in class were taking longer to grasp a task than was expected – but teachers will aim to stick to these days. This was a key request from student voice : to have a consistent routine to help their organisation.
Finally, key to your support is to ensure your child has a regular homework routine at home, and a space to complete their work. If children are using their bedrooms to work, check regularly that they are not just on social media platforms! (We know this is easier said than done….) And if you prefer, we do offer a regular space for students to complete their homework in school with access to computers : homework club runs Monday – Thursday from 3pm to 4pm in our library. Students can just turn up; they do not need to book.
We will continue to review our new homework approaches this year and look forward to taking staff, student and parent / carer voice about its impact.
Thank you for reading.