Homework and Reporting
Two of my key projects this year have been Homework and Reports. Before the year ends, I’d like to share with you the main findings and the outcomes of these projects.
Please see the detail below.
Firstly, I’d like to thank those of you who responded to the homework survey earlier this year – over 400 of you took the time to give us your views on a number of homework questions. Your experiences and thoughts are invaluable to us in improving the way we work.
Hearing that 90% of you value homework was very good news. Your reasons were also very gratifying, the most popular being to teach self-discipline, to consolidate learning, to encourage interaction between child and parent and to give the child time and space to develop particular interests.
Most students receive between 3 and 5 pieces of homework a week, with a few receiving 6 or more. The majority of students spend no more than 2 hours a week on homework; whilst a significant number spend up to 5 hours a week, very few spend more than 6 hours a week.
You told us that homework is generally set by all subjects, with English, Maths and Science setting homework most regularly.
Roughly 75% of our students take part in after school activities, and most spend between two and five hours a week engaged in sport or music. The majority of students manage both homework and other activities with no problems, but roughly a third sometimes feel under pressure to complete homework.
Parents’ main concern about homework is that although it is set regularly at the start of the year, it tends to dwindle as the year goes on. Parents would like to know exactly what homework their child is expected to do for each subject and praised the Maths department for putting homework details on the school website.
So, what will change as a result of the parental survey, the working group and the survey of student planners?
1. All subjects will put details of Key Stage 3 homework for each half term on the school website. Most will make the homework tasks available to download, unless there are copyright restrictions, when detailed outlines will be given. (Key Stage 4 homework is less easy to put onto the website as there are so many variations).
2. The student planner will have a page designed to show subject, day homework will be set and day it will be due in. This should reduce the pressure on some students as date set and expected in can be negotiated between teacher and class.
3. Homework will continue to be focused on research, consolidating learning from lessons, expanding knowledge and encouraging parent-child interaction.
We started reviewing the way we report to parents over a year ago. An initial survey and consultation with a range of staff and students revealed the following key points:
Parents like the personalised comments by subject teachers, especially when there is a sense that the teacher knows the student as an individual
End of year levels and grades were not always given as some ‘final’ reports were published early in the summer term, leaving parents unclear whether the target had been achieved by the end of the year
Some parents, staff and students like the + = and – grading for attitudes to learning; some found it confusing. (Some parents and students previously expressed dissatisfaction about the use of words such as ‘standard’).
Most parents simply want to know that their child is settled and focused early in the year.
Parents want to know how to support their child to achieve their end of year targets.
The revised reporting system from September is designed to better meet the needs of parents and students. With the exception of Year 11, who continue to receive one main report at the end of the autumn term, there will be three reports a year.
In the autumn term, parents of students in years 7 to 10 will receive a progress report. This will be a quick report focused on the student’s attitude to learning at the start of the year: organisation, behaviour and effort. These three core aspects of learning will be graded outstanding, good, could improve or unacceptable. We hope that these grades will be more helpful to parents.
In the spring term, parents of students in years 7 to 9 will receive a formative report. This will be just like the current end of year report, except that it will be published earlier, giving each parent time to support their child to meet their end of year target level.
The comments will have three key focuses:
1. How much progress the student has made towards her/his end of year target level (target levels are based on the progress the student needs to make each year in order to meet their Key Stage 3 target in year 9)
2. What the student needs to do in order to meet, or exceed their target
3. What the student has done particularly well – in terms of learned skills and achievements.
In the summer term, as close as possible to the end of the year, students in years 7 to 9 will receive an achievement report, which will give the student’s final level for the year. There will be a comment by the tutor, summarising the achievement of the student and the contributions s/he has made to school life.
Year 10 will have two progress reports, one in autumn and one in spring. As with years 7, 8 and 9, both the spring and summer report will include teacher assessment. The Year 10 formative (summer) report will also include teacher and tutor comments. The formative report is designed to support parents in talking to their child about the extent to which they are on target to meet their projected GCSE grades and what they need to do to attain as highly as possible by the end of year 11.
All reports will also have key dates this year, such as dates of next report and Parents Evening. Another new addition will be a comment on attendance. The impact of attendance on achievement can’t be underestimated. Most students attend all lessons. But the attendance of a minority of students causes us concern. The Attendance team will know whose absence is necessary for medical or other personal reasons and which students need to improve attendance. There will be a general statement for students whose attendance is good and more personalised statements for others.
I hope that you are happy with the improvements we’ve made to homework and reporting. I plan to survey parents in 2013, but I’d be happy to hear your initial thoughts earlier. You can email me: email@example.com or contact me by phone.
Best wishes for a glorious (sunny) summer