William Farr is an 11-18 mixed comprehensive academy
To use homework to harness and develop skills and understanding.
Homework was set weekly and with curriculum changes it was felt an opportune time to encourage homework to be used in a more effective way.
A working party (the Head of Department and 15 mixed ability students from Years 9 and 10) was set up to gather feedback about Science homework. A literature review about homework was undertaken by a colleague in the MFL department. A whole school survey was completed with staff from different departments and students to consider the strengths and weakness of homework and its purpose.
A repeat of the working party was conducted, now with Year 10 and Year 11 students, which measured the impact of the changes made, e.g. increasing the variety of homework, using different texts for Year 9 students. The learning focus group developed a homework proforma which was used when writing the new schemes of learning for the GCSE.
A final student voice survey was conducted to look at the variety of homework tasks being set and the challenge and the degree to which homework supported student learning. Staff suggested some of their best homework over the last three years. Time was spent auditing new schemes of learning to monitor the homework set.
Student feedback, staff feedback
At the end of the project students felt overwhelmingly that homework supported their learning (88% in KS3, 79% KS4 and 100% KS5) compared to only 20% of KS5 students finding homework helpful in the initial survey. At the end of the project students in Science felt they were given appropriate time to complete homework (90% in KS3, 88% KS4 and 100% KS5). Looking at the final questionnaires a higher proportion of students commented on creative homeworks (34% in KS3, 17% KS4 and 25% KS5) compared to the one or two a year from the initial student voice survey. Another significant change was using homework for pre-learning or flipped learning. Three years ago this had only been used sporadically. The development of the proforma documents before writing new schemes of learning allowed a greater variety of homework ideas to be included.
The quality, challenge and variety of homework in the Science department has improved significantly. This has led to students spending extra time looking at science topics and “awe and wonder” is happening. However, given so many other variables, it is difficult to say whether this has directly improved the individual progress of students. The value of using development management as a tool to focus staff worked effectively and the impact has been overwhelmingly positive within the department.
Lesley Newnham, firstname.lastname@example.org