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Homework is anything children do outside the normal school day that contributes to their learning, in response to guidance from the school. Homework encompasses a whole variety of activities instigated by teachers and parents/carers to support the children’s learning. For example, parents or carers who spend time reading stories to their children before bedtime are helping with homework.
Aims and objectives
The aims and objectives of homework are:
to enable pupils to make maximum progress in their academic and social development;
to help pupils develop the skills of an independent learner;
to promote cooperation between home and school in supporting each child’s learning;
to enable all aspects of the curriculum to be covered in sufficient depth;
to provide educational experiences not possible in school;
to consolidate and reinforce the learning done in school, and to allow children to practice skills taught in lessons;
to help children develop good work habits for the future.
Types of homework
Staff and pupils regard homework as an integral part of the curriculum – it is planned and prepared alongside all other programmes of learning.
We set a variety of homework activities. In the Foundation Stage and at Key Stage 1, we give children books to take home and read with their parents or carers. We give guidance to parents and carers on achieving the maximum benefit from this time spent reading with their child. We also ask Key Stage 1 children to learn spellings or mathematical tables as part of their homework. Sometimes, we ask children to talk about a topic at home prior to studying it in school. For example, in the history topic on toys, we ask children to find out what toys were popular when their grandparents were young, and, if possible, to bring examples into school to show the other children. Sometimes, we ask children to find and collect things that we then use in science lessons, and occasionally we ask children to take home work that they have started in school, when we believe that they could benefit from spending further time on it. When we ask children to study a topic, or to research a particular subject, we encourage them to use not only the school library but also the local library, as well as the Internet and CD-ROMs. Specific tasks are included on our weekly newsletter.
Homework is marked according to the general school marking policy. Homework completed well is acknowledged and praised. There may be issues arising from the work, which the teacher will follow up in lesson time.
We recognise that children have individual learning styles, which means that some tasks can be completed in a number of different ways, while others demand a particular approach.
Amount of homework
As they move through the school, we increase the amount of homework that we give the children. We expect children in Key Stage 1 to spend approximately one hour a week doing homework, although this may well include reading with a parent. We expect children in Years 3 and 4 to spend approximately 15–20 minutes per night on homework, and children in Years 5 and 6 to spend approximately 30 minutes per night. This is in line with the DfES guidelines that were issued in 1998.
The role of parents and carers
Parents and carers have a vital role to play in their child’s education, and homework is an important part of this process. We ask parents and carers to encourage their child to complete the homework tasks that are set. We invite them to help their children as and when they feel it to be necessary, and to provide them with the sort of environment that allows children to do their best. Parents and carers can support their child by providing a good working space at home, by enabling their child to visit the library regularly, and by discussing the work that their child is doing.
We ask parents and carers to check the home–school diary at least once a week, and to sign it as requested.
If parents and carers have any questions about homework, they should, in the first instance, contact the child’s class teacher. If their questions are of a more general nature, they should contact the headteacher. Finally, if they wish to make a complaint about the school homework policy, or the way in which it is implemented, parents or carers should contact the governing body.
Use of ICT
The use of ICT and the Internet has made a significant contribution to the amount of reference material available at home, and the ease and speed with which it can be accessed. However, our teachers expect their pupils to produce their own work, perhaps by editing something they have found, or by expressing it in their own words. The children are not achieving anything worthwhile by merely downloading and printing out something that has been written by somebody else.
There are many websites containing highly educational material which can have a powerful effect on children’s learning. Our school website provides links to the sites which will best support the children’s learning. Parents or carers are advised always to supervise their child’s access to the Internet.