A few years ago, the leadership team took the decision to review Home Learning. The result of this process was that teachers felt that our current structure was not as effective as it could be, pupils often did not retain information learnt or would not be able to apply the skills taught at school to certain learning sent home. Sometimes confusion would occur between the way things are taught now and the way things may have been taught in the past, effecting pupils’ confidence.
We also feel that the pupils at our school are only young once and deserve the chance to be children; so many of the children have wonderful hobbies and clubs that they take part in both inside and outside of school and at times the structure of Home Learning has caused distress due to the expectations and timing elements. Finally, as a school we set high expectations each day and know that pupils are progressing well; where they have struggled, they are supported in class and that Home Learning is most effective when used to reinforce core skills.
With this in mind, our Home Learning process splits the learning into to two key areas.
Essential Learning: This is the expected learning that MUST occur every week. This is broken down into the core elements that pupils need to practice on a regular basis. Pupils must read to a parent and discuss what they have read 4/5 times a week. They must practice spelling rules at home 4/5 times a week. This should include reviewing previous spellings, applying the spelling rule to words that are not on spelling lists and generally writing sentences that utilise the words in context. Finally, we expect our pupils’ mental arithmetic to be practiced 4/5 times a week, with some mental questions. This might mean working on simple addition and subtraction or learning and using numbers bonds when in Key Stage 1 and extends to practicing different times-tables and performing simple problem-solving tasks in their heads for 10mins a day.
Optional Learning: The optional part refers to that the parents’ choice; if you do not have the time over a weekend to complete a task due to other commitments then that is fine, you can save it and do it at a later date without worrying about your son/daughter being in trouble at school. These tasks will supplement learning in the classroom and will generally be practical and fun tasks that can be done over time and enjoyed. Pupils may be asked to make or create things.
When pupils bring in learning that has been completed at home it will be valued by the class teacher in various ways. There may be displays of the learning; pupils may have the chance to share what they did and how they completed the task; they may spend some individual time with the teacher discussing the learning.
The expectation is that with support from parents to practice the core skills of reading, spelling and mental arithmetic that the pupils’ core skills will improve. These activities such as the mental arithmetic or spelling could be completed on the way to school in the car or whilst you are completing the weekly shop; they should allow parents the freedom to support their children without Home Learning becoming a contentious and at times challenging battle ground at home.
Examples of the kind of questions parents can support their children with:
Reading – It is essential that all pupils have some time to read aloud, particularly when younger and as they get older it is essential they discuss what they are reading. Questions around why the character do certain things / make certain decisions. Questions about predicting what might happen next and why they think – what clues has the book given as to what might happen
Describe characters and whether they are liked and why.
Maths – For KS1 – this is focusing on doing simple addition and subtraction. As they become more confident with one-digit sums on paper can they start to do them in their head – talk about how they can use their fingers to support. When they give an answer, how do they know? It’s also about pupils’ number bonds – children need to know what numbers match with others to make 10 so can they use their knowledge of 6+4 = 10 to solve what is 16 + 4? How many more do I need to make 20 if I have 13?
KS2 – is more about rapid recall of facts and ensuring that pupils are confident when dealing with number. Pupils can spend 10 mins a day doing simple arithmetic in their head – 15 + 12?
Pupils should be able to do this aloud and explain their thinking – e.g 15 +10 is 25 and now I add the 2 making 27?
It’s the same with multiplication? What is 6x8? Response could be 5 x 8 is 40, so I need one more 8? 48
Pupils can race to write down a certain times table - get a piece of paper and they can spend a minute or two writing out the 6 times table, time them, write the time on the paper and stick it to the fridge and do it again the next day – can they beat the time? Look for patterns – such do all the answers end in even numbers – do they go up in 2’s?
Finally, talk about converting measures – can they convert 1 and half litres into millilitres? How many cm in 2 and half metres?
All of these questions can be approached and discussed – no recording required.
Spelling - Pupils should be learning spelling rules, not just the word – we have many children who do very well in their test but never use and apply the spelling in their writing, they just continue to spelt incorrectly. It would be much better to spend some time looking at the rule that goes with the words and write them in a sentence so that they understand the context. There is nothing to say that you cannot look at other words that do not exist on the list but follow the same rule.