Homework - Consolidating Curriculum Knowledge
On this page we explain our approach to homework and how students use it to consolidate their curriculum knowledge. You can also download our Knowledge Organisers for the term.
Homework is important because it enables students to:
- Continue learning outside of the classroom
- Consolidate newly-acquired knowledge, revise prior learning and practise skills
- Develop the self-discipline, perseverance and confidence to study independently
- Involve parents/carers in their learning.
In the secondary phase, students should spend the following amount of time completing their homework each evening:
- Year 7, 8 and 9 - between 30 minutes and one hour
- Years 10 and 11 - between one and two hours
- Years 12 and 13 - minimum of two hours
The above timings are guidelines. In the lead-up to tests and exams, student must recognise that the more time they spend working independently, the greater their chance of success will be.
Parents and carers should provide a well-lit desk in a quiet area for students to complete their homework. Students can also complete work in the academy library up until 16:30 each day. Please ask to see your child’s homework before it is handed in. We encourage parents to discuss the work with their child, ensure neat presentation and support the student in checking their work for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Examples of homework, and classwork, can be seen on our Great Learning page.
Each half term we produce homework booklets (which we call 'Knowledge Organisers') for all students in the secondary phase. These outline what homework is expected on each day, for a whole term. All students are given a copy of their Knowledge Organisers but they can also be downloaded below.
Every week in every subject, students will be directed to learn specific parts of their knowledge organisers by heart. This learning is then tested as a ‘Do Now’ activity at the start of the next lesson. Students are also expected to continually revise previously-learned knowledge. This is tested in end-of-term cumulative knowledge tests.
What are knowledge organisers?
A knowledge organiser is a set of key facts or information that pupils need to know and be able to recall in order to master a unit or topic. Typically, an organiser fits onto one page of A4 or A3 – this helps pupils to visualise the layout of the page which in turn helps them to memorise the information better.
Intent: Why do we use knowledge organisers?
GCSEs and BTECs are becoming increasingly challenging. Most subjects have lost their controlled assessments (previously known as coursework) and these have been replaced with additional exam papers. The focus of these exams is the retrieval and application of knowledge. This puts increasing pressure on students to know and retain even more information for longer.
Our short-term memory is designed to be just that and has limited capacity. Pupils find themselves unable to retain the information, they become stressed and often give up, convincing themselves they are no good at revising or that they “can’t do subject ‘x’ ”.
The secret to success is to regularly revisit the knowledge to be learned (known as ‘spaced retrieval’). This helps transfer the knowledge from the short-term memory to the long-term memory. This not only helps to make ‘stick’ but it also frees up our short-term memory for day-to-day learning and experiences.
Implementation and impact: How will a knowledge organiser help my child?
Knowledge organisers will be made available at the start of each half term to help students remember what they’re learning and to help them to understand the bigger learning journey in their subjects. Instead of forgetting previous learning, pupils continually revisit and retrieve prior learning from their long-term memories making is easily accessible when needed.
How will a knowledge organiser help me to help my child?
Many of you ask us how you can help to support your children at home. Some of you are worried that you don’t have all of the subject-specific knowledge to be able to help your children. Some of you worry how to check that your children have done their homework and revision. The knowledge organisers will help you to do this easily.
Home learning and knowledge development
Teachers will set regular retrieval homework for students from their knowledge organisers and at the start of lessons, the “Do Now” activity will test students’ ability to recall this powerful knowledge. In addition to this, three homework tasks are detailed on the knowledge organiser, these are:
- A review task based on prior learning.
- A consolidation task, based on current learning
- A research task based on future learning.
Above and beyond the task outlines above, we would recommend that pupils spend thirty minutes per evening in Key Stage 3 and an hour in Key Stage 4 learning the knowledge detailed in the organiser.
Here are some strategies that might help you to support your son/daughter.
- Read through the organiser with your son/daughter – if you don’t understand the content then ask them to explain it to you – ‘teaching’ you helps them to reinforce their learning.
- Try converting the information into a mind map or make your own version using clip art imagery if the organiser contains a lot of text. Display on the wall or the fridge door until the memory ‘sticks’.
- Test them regularly on the spellings of key words until they are perfect. Make a note of the ones they get wrong – is there a pattern to the spelling of those words?
- Get them to make a glossary (list) of key words with definitions or a list of formulae.
- Try recording the knowledge from the organiser as an mp3 sound file that your child can listen to. Some pupils retain more information this way.
- Read sections out to them, missing out key words or phrases that they have to fill in. Miss out more and more until they are word perfect.
- Once they are word perfect and can remember all of the knowledge on the organiser, use the internet or a book to find out more or ask the teacher for some (more) exam questions.
Pre-planned homework tasks
Students in the secondary phase will complete three pieces of homework in each subject each half term. These pieces of homework follow a similar sequence in each subject:
- Consolidation of prior learning
- A task related to current learning
- Preparation for future learning.
These homework tasks should be challenging, yet accessible. Teachers should take time in class to explain the homework clearly. Tasks which enable students to simply download material from the internet should be avoided. Students should complete all homework in their exercise books, not on loose pieces of paper.