As a school, we fully appreciate that social time with friends and family time are both extremely important aspects of any childhood. As such, our teaching staff are not in the habit of setting homework tasks just because they think students should have something to occupy their time at home.
However, we also firmly believe that good quality homework is an important part of our student’s education, as it helps to develop key skills, encourages independence and consolidates school-based learning. Through this independent study our students are challenged to reflect, become more resourceful and manage their own time – all crucial skills for success in education and beyond.
The system we use for the setting of homework is called ShowMyHomework (SMHW). This web-based interface allows staff to set homework tasks online and they will typically include detailed instructions and links to resources that students will find helpful. Gone are the days when poor quality homework and missed deadlines are the result of poor diary keeping by youngsters – it is all recorded automatically in the student’s ‘to do list’, which they can access any time, from anywhere, directly from their personal online accounts. In addition, parents are also issued with SMHW logins (in the first few weeks of term), so that they are able to see what homework has been set and perhaps assist with organisation and prioritising work. A guide on how to use SMHW can be found here. (Please see https://www.showmyhomework.co.uk/ for more details.)
When teaching staff set a regular homework, students can normally expect to be asked to spend 15-45 minutes completing the tasks and wherever possible students will be given more than one evening to complete the work. These tasks will typically reinforce previous learning, extend this learning, or prepare students for the next steps. All types of homework are of equal importance, although it is worth noting that they may not all require ‘handing in’ and some may not be directly marked by the teacher.
Furthermore, in some subjects, a more lengthy project-based homework may occasionally be set. Such tasks may occupy the homework slots for that subject for several weeks and in these circumstances, it is particularly important that students plan their work in advance and do not leave it too late to begin tackling the work. This time management is an important skill and if developed during Key Stage 3, students are much more likely to succeed and fulfil their potential in their GCSEs.
Lastly, it goes without saying that teaching staff expect students to complete homework tasks on time and to the best of their ability. However, if there are extenuating circumstances, which have prevented this from happening, parents are asked to write a note of explanation to the class teacher/s. This should be in their son/daughter’s notebook, which parents can use at any time to communicate with teachers. Please note that staff do not use the messaging facility within ‘Show My Homework’ to communicate with parents.
How parents can support their children with homework
- We feel very strongly that it is very helpful if parents quickly learn how to access the ‘Show My Homework’ portal and frequently discuss homework with their son/daughter.
- Children will be encouraged if their parents take an interest in what they are doing, praise them when they have demonstrated persistence and offer to test concepts that have to be learned in preparation for assessments and tests.
- Ideally, students should have a quiet room in which they can work alone, but if that is impossible, please make sure they have a clear table, away from noise and other distractions.
- Try to have a designated time slot each afternoon/evening, during which homework is the sole focus. This routine can help parents to avoid confrontations and help the youngsters to avoid late nights, which are detrimental to well-being and for focusing the following day.
- Do not allow your son/daughter to have access to their mobile phone, or other devices, when they should be focusing on their homework. They may tell you that they are using their device for music, or as a timer, and this may well be true, but it is still impossible to ignore text messages and other notifications and these will break concentration.
- Encourage your son/daughter to avoid the ‘Sunday night syndrome’. It is always best for homework to be attempted on the first evening it is set, when what has been taught is hopefully still fresh in the mind. If a student has difficulties with the set homework, there is then a chance to seek help from the teacher the next day and still have the work completed for the following lesson.
- Avoid becoming complicit in making excuses on behalf of your son/daughter when they have failed to complete a task on time. Escaping a detention may make them feel better and you may feel like you are protecting them, but this will only serve to reinforce that homework is not important.
A copy of the school’s homework policy is available here or on request from the school office.