Teaching Schools are schools with the Ofsted rating of Outstanding that support and work alongside local schools within their area to provide a high quality of training and development. Best practices are shared with the local schools to improve and provide a better quality of education and form of teaching and learning. An area to pinpoint and focus on is homework and home-learning; a strong homework policy and management can increase engagement in schools.
1. Understanding The Objective of Homework
It is important to remember what the achievement and outcome of setting homework should be and for students to realise that is a valuable period of time that should be set aside for continued learning outside of the classroom. It is an opportunity for the student to work independently, conduct their own research and plan their work. It is their time to take initiative and work alone, and the work that they produce and hand in enables the teacher to have an understanding of where their student stands academically and where there are gaps that could use a little more nurturing.
Homework should be challenging and not straight from a book or a continuation of classwork. Teaching Schools can help their neighbours set quality homework through the sharing of resources; they can observe what homework was the most challenging and engaging for the students, as well as what appeared to be inspiring and motivating, and share these resources with surrounding schools. Having a clear image of what proved to be successful can set a benchmark for what kind of homework is challenging to students and what could and should be set in the future.
2. Tracking and Monitoring of Homework
The tracking and monitoring of homework in a school can be quite difficult to keep up with especially with there being such a large number of students to monitor and so many homework excuses for them to ride on. At times, many students get away with not completing homework to the best of their ability let alone handing it in at all!
However, it is not a lost cause! Many schools have systems in place allowing the Senior Leadership Team to track and monitor what homework is being set and what gets handed in; there are always ways to re-set the homework if it is not completed to a high standard. Outstanding schools can share these methods and tools used to carefully track and monitor homework to help the neighbouring schools make improvements upon the current homework policies that they may have in place.
This will challenge both the students and the teachers; the teachers will have to carefully consider what homework they are setting and what they hope to get out of it – their expectations and lasting results; the students will actually have to apply themselves and complete their homework and hand it in on time, otherwise face the repercussions of resubmitting or appropriate disciplinary action.
3. Involving Parents in Homework
Teachers can push students to work hard to a certain extent but parents are the ones who can give that extra shove. A strong parental involvement in homework can help increase the student’s learning capacity where the greater the involvement, the more likely children will feel inclined to get their work done.
Often, parents want to be involved in their child’s learning and have an understanding of what they are getting up to, what they are being asked to complete in class and what they are expected to work on independently. They want to understand how homework will contribute to their child’s learning and what skills it will provide them with.
An Outstanding school may have a method of improving access to homework and other classwork for both parents and students. This way parents can see their child’s progress and what kind of homework they are being set. This will help both the teachers and the parents to advise students on time management and how to organise and prioritise their work.
This method can be shared with a neighbouring school and can improve communication and relations between parents and teachers. They can then work together to increase the quality of teaching and learning for the student, whilst simultaneously improving student accountability and responsibility in regards to their work and keeping them engaged in their learning.
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