St John Plessington Catholic College


1. What is the purpose of homework?

Homework helps to develop good study habits, which are essential for life-long learning. It helps students to become independent learners without the need to always have direct supervision from their teachers. It extends and develops the work done in school and encourages research and experimentation. It can make use of resources not normally available in the classroom.

This might include school and public libraries, computers - both in school and at home, the local environment and community, books and other materials at home and of course the knowledge and experience of parents. Working at home or in the community is often vital for the successful completion of GCSE coursework. Homework strengthens the links between home and school.

2. What kinds of homework will be set?

Homework for all students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will now take two forms:
• Independent study tasks
o These are longer and more involved pieces of work, for which careful guidance will be provided by teaching staff. They may take up to 7 weeks to complete and formative feedback will be provided to students as they progress on these tasks. Their responses may take different forms (presentations, posters, booklets etc.), provided that they fulfil the criteria outlined by the class teacher. Students will be provided with a short written evaluation when projects are completed.

• Short homework tasks
o These will continue to be set, collected and marked by class teachers. They should take no more than one hour to complete and will be recorded in the child’s school planner on a day by day basis.

• SAM Learning

All students have access to the SAM Learning independent study site should they find themselves in the unusual situation of having completed all their task. 

Homework for Years 10 and 11 will continue to focus mainly on tasks relating either to GCSE coursework or preparation for GCSE exams or other assessments.

Homework will cover a wide range of activities. It will depend on things like the nature of the subject, the age of your child, the stage reached in the course or year and so on. Activities set might include questions, exercises, essays, research notes, graphs, maps diagrams and imaginative accounts. Practical and problem-solving activities are often an important feature of homework. There will be times when reading is essential, both for enjoyment and creative development and for consolidating and extending what has been learned in class. Planning and preparation for future lessons or discussions will be needed, together with revision and learning for tests and examinations. Parents can help greatly by listening, questioning and supporting.

3. Where should homework be done?

In some ways the use of the term “homework” is misleading. Phrases like “independent learning” or “work beyond the classroom” might be better. Although much of the work may be done at home, it is also often completed elsewhere. Many students choose to make use of time and facilities during the school day to carry out some of their tasks. The Learning Centre is open from 8.00am to 5pm (including lunchtime) and expert help is on hand. At times students may benefit by using Public Libraries or may need to carry out surveys in the local area or town centre.

4. What can I do to help my child?

You have a vital role to play in your child’s homework. You are a key part of the partnership between home and school.

In addition to giving encouragement and support you can help by:

• Discussing tasks and advising on organisation of time
• Looking at presentation and spellings
• Helping to improve handwriting skills
• Checking understanding
• Listening to reading
• Practising skills and testing learning
• Providing a quiet time and place where your child can concentrate on work

Other things which can be helpful: visiting museums, galleries and places of interest, particularly when they are directly relevant to a topic being studied, drawing your child’s attention to documentaries and current affairs programmes on television, encouraging an interest in what is going on in the News.

5. When is homework set and how much homework should my child be doing?

In Years 7, 8 and 9 most departments now set extended independent study tasks, which are detailed in the booklets sent to parents each term. Other subject areas will continue to set regular short tasks, which will be recorded in the homework planner each day.
If your child has difficulty with a particular piece of work and has spent a reasonable time on it then it is probably best to allow him or her to move on to another activity and make a note in the Planner. Where your child wants to spend a lot of extra time on a particular topic and this does not interfere with other tasks or social and leisure activities he or she can be encouraged to do so.

In Years 10 and 11 there is no formally structured timetable for homework, as subjects need to have the flexibility to set work according to the particular requirements of the examination courses. Tasks will include short-term exercises, essays, reading and preparation for tests or coursework modules, together with major pieces of coursework which have to be completed over an extended period of time. Students need to be encouraged to use their Planner to record the work they have to do, together with important deadlines.

On average over the year, students in Year 10 should spend about one to one and a half hours per night on homework, private study and general reading. Year 11 students should spend one and a half to two hours per night. During examination times the demands will be increased, particularly for doing practice questions and revision.

6. How is homework checked up on?

Subject teachers who have set a particular piece of homework should make sure that it is entered in the Planner, check that it has been completed satisfactorily and mark it. While students in Year 7-9 are working on longer independent study tasks their teachers may ask them to write occasional reminders in their planners, or may take projects in for formative assessment at an agreed mid-point. Form tutors should regularly check that Planners are being used properly. Parents are also asked to look at Planners and to discuss them with their child.

Homework is also monitored by Heads of Department and line managers for each department.

Deadlines are always given for handing in homework. If these are not met it causes difficulties. For students it means that they build up a backlog of work, which can quickly overwhelm them. It also means that they fail to develop a routine and good working practices. For staff it means that marking schedules are disrupted. If homework is not handed in on time without a good reason, such as illness or other genuine difficulties, students can expect to be given a detention in order to complete the work. It is helpful if parents can write a short note or indicate in the Planner if there is any difficulty in handing work in on time. The school will also inform you if a recurring problem develops with homework.

7. How should I communicate with school if I have any worries about homework?

If you find that your child regularly has difficulty in completing tasks within the times suggested or alternatively does not seem to be doing homework you should contact his or her form tutor via the Planner or with a phone call, e-mail or letter. Alternatively you might like to make contact with the Head of Learning or Head of Department if you have any concerns. By telephoning Reception you can ask to speak to the person concerned, or if, as is likely, they are teaching or unavailable at that time you can leave a message asking them to contact you. All of our teaching staff can be contacted by e-mail, the addresses can be found on our web-site.