There are always many opinions given on homework. Some primary schools are dead set against any formal homework, some schools have a strict regime, some a loose regime. Homework has always been that area which appears in parent surveys, either children are not given enough homework – or children are given too much homework. It’s an impossible task to achieve 100% satisfaction from educators, parents and (probably most importantly) the children.
I am into my second year of teaching in year six, and we have a different policy to the rest of the school when it comes to homework. (Why that is, I’ll address later on!) This different approach has been very successful, and allows for children to achieve the minimum expectation on homework (hopefully satisfying those parents who think they get too much) and also allows for children to really push themselves and do above and beyond in terms of homework (hopefully satisfying those parents who don’t think they get enough!)
What I found before joining the year six team, and using the grid, was that each English teacher would set their own homework for children to get on with and do each week (when they remembered.) However, it was often a worksheet on grammar and punctuation – or similar. I found the homework offered was loosely related to the literacy lessons, and not really focused on skills and learning from the curriculum. This wasn’t always the case, however I was also guilty of the last minute homework activity allocation far too often. Something I have really developed and learnt from since.
The homework grid (inspired by unhomework – Mark Creasy) comes with advice and guidance in the form of a letter home for both parents and children. It is actively encouraged that parents choose homework projects, sometimes, together with their child; learning, discovering and producing homework together as a family. Last year I had three separate parents thank me for the homework grids (it wasn’t my idea but obviously you take the thanks) they were thanking me because it allowed them to have healthy tasks to do together as a family when sometimes they struggled to think how they could help their child develop at home. I know sadly for some children, they don’t get the same support at home, however I have still seen the homework grid be a success for them in multiple ways.
Hopefully clicking on the image will allow you to see the ‘homework grid’. Every child is sent home with their homework book (A4), and a new grid every half term. The target is complete enough homework to gain the agreed amount of homework points (60 points) with rewards such as prestigious badges, recognition and homework tokens. The homework tokens are awarded to children who have gone above and beyond in terms of their homework, this could be in a whole host of ways and is decided based on your expectation of the child. Once given, the token is taken to the year leader and placed into a tombola, then every half term the tombola is picked from and prizes given out.
As you can see in the grid, there are a number of different curriculum areas covered – but with an element of variety and freedom to take the homework their own way. The homework is always based on skills and areas they will be studying in the current half term as well, allowing for pre-learning and building on knowledge already gained in the classroom. The grid is agreed as a year group, and each designated curriculum area planner comes up with their own ideas to bring to the grid.
BUT THERE IS NO MATHS HOMEWORK OR SPELLINGS ON THERE – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
PASS ME THE WINE!
I hear you shouting in a mad way, comparable to a teacher’s face three weeks away from the summer holidays – whilst knowing you’ve got no wine left in the cupboard at home.
Don’t panic, Maths homework is covered and differentiated by each designated set teacher using the online subscription site: mymaths.co.uk. Spellings are also sent home weekly to practice.
I have never known children get through so much homework, incredible quality as well (some examples pictured at the top!) The children really are motivated to impress and do more, it’s been an incredible success and something that the children consider a highlight in year six. Homework a highlight. According to the children. That’s a success right?
Which leads me on to the reason why we don’t want the ‘year six grid’ to be carried across the other year groups, in it’s current form at least. In the children’s final year before high school it is important they are given more responsibilities and more control over their learning, giving them an opportunity to really mature as a learner.
If the homework grid had been made available to them back in year three, by the time they reached year six they would have fallen out of love with the idea. Homework grids wouldn’t be an exciting part of taking control of their own learning – at all!