At Abbotsbury, homework is seen as an essential part of the children’s learning. It is a chance to practise skills, consolidate understanding of work covered in school and develop good work habits. However, more important than any of these, it is an opportunity for children to widen their own interests, direct their own areas of learning and develop their thirst for knowledge and love for learning.
In response to some issues raised by parents, pupils and staff, we have adopted a new approach to homework to give the children more opportunities to show their creativity and to take greater control of their own learning. This new approach is called ‘Take-Away Homework’ and will be linked to topic work covered in school. Some essential areas of homework will continue to run daily outside of the new homework framework.
• It is vitally important that every child reads at home every day, as the ability to read underpins all that we do at school and throughout life.
• Basic number skills, including times tables and number facts, are also essential and need to be practised regularly. The class teachers will let you know which ones are appropriate for each age group.
At the start of a new topic of work, the teachers in each year-group will create a menu of homework tasks. The range of tasks will vary and will be determined primarily by the age and ability of the children. The tasks will be differentiated: some will be fairly straightforward to understand and complete and others will be more difficult, require more creativity or involve more higher-order thinking skills.
Over the course of the following four weeks, whilst the topic is being covered, the children will be free to pick and choose which homework tasks they attempt (with the guidance of the teacher).
Depending on the tasks and the age of the children, a suggested expectation of accomplishment will be indicated on the menu. For example, a menu might state that at least two ‘medium difficulty’ tasks are to be attempted. Another might say that each child should attempt at least one difficult (‘extra hot’) challenge task or one from each column.
The homework tasks will be presented as a ‘menu’ and will be linked to the theme of the current topic work. The homework menus for each year group will be clearly displayed on the school website and copies will be sent home with information about the topic. Basic resources (e.g. paper, card etc.) will be available for the children to take home for their homework and they will have access to a wider range of resources (including computers and art materials) and some adult support at after school ‘homework clubs’ which will run each week. As the children become more independent and capable of directing their own learning, they may even like to invent their own homework tasks to substitute for ones on the menu, but they must agree this with their teachers first!
During the course of the topic, the teachers in each class should give pupils the opportunity to hand in work, have it reviewed and receive feedback.
At the end of the topic work or term, each class will hold a presentation session where the children can display their completed take-away homework tasks. This will give children in the class the opportunity to look at the work of their peers and have their own work and effort recognised. Sometimes parents will be invited in to see what the children have achieved. Rewards may also be given out to children who have clearly worked hard on their tasks or succeeded in a particular area.
This new approach will be reviewed after the first two or three topics have been completed. Please let us know what you think.
Please note that in Year 6, for some parts of the year, homework will not follow this format.