Homework – keys to success

The Homework Conundrum

Homework is always a subject that generates comment and discussion.  Teachers are either told that they are not setting enough homework or too much. Then there are debates about whether homework serves any purpose at all and of course let’s not forget the perennial brainteaser “what is a meaningful homework”. For what it’s worth my opinion is that homework is an essential feature of the school curriculum.

For many children homework poses no problems and is often even enjoyed! These children probably benefit from having supportive (nagging!) parents or carers a quiet place to work and a fair amount of motivation. Even then some of them struggle with the time management and planning aspects that are often required. But what about the kids who have none of this support? They are the ones who often have the most entertaining excuses for not handing their homework in on time but these ‘tall tales’ sometimes mask a number of genuine problems they have faced trying to do the task they have been set.

In school they don’t always succeed but when they do it is often because:

  • there are very clear expectations and structures to work with;
  • they have been able to discuss work;
  • they have worked collaboratively.

One aim of homework is, of course, to get kids to develop a bit more independence and self-discipline in their studies but I’m becoming more and more convinced that sadly that’s exactly where most of the ‘problems’ with homework start. A majority of our pupils have internet access at home. So here are a few ideas my faculty are trying out…

Learning Platforms VLEs

Thinking in a deck chair- what to do with Y12 after study leave?

I’m always amused by conversations that start with someone telling me, “It’s alright for you teachers you get such long holidays!” I can’t help smiling as generally  the conversation comes to a rapid halt when I acknowledge they are right and then, after a short pause, point out that it is always possible to change professions (as I did some ten years ago now), embark on a PGCE, SCITT etc. take a cut in salary and then sit back and enjoy the long holidays! Anyway, as another half term evaporates as quickly as rain in the east of England, thoughts turn to the next seven weeks of teaching safe in the knowledge that there is yet another “long holiday” on the horizon.

In very short order Y12 students across the country will be back from their AS exams, champing at the bit, looking forward to more study and thinking about starting their UCAS applications. My Y12 students have had a great year and I have really enjoyed helping them get to grips with the Civil Rights movement in the USA (1945-1968) but I’m not so naive as to believe that, as things stand, they are all looking to continue studying history next year. It’s also inevitable that even the most motivated students will start to run out of steam ahead of their own well earned rest come the end of July. However I expect that along with many other teachers I’m looking to start elements of our A2 course and to steal a march on the pressures on time that will, in the normal course of things, develop during Y13. So what’s on the menu to keep the students engaged and making the most of the remaining weeks?