Tag Archives: Homework

News diary pro-forma

This was forwarded to me my Helen who observed Emily use this in a citizenship lesson.  Emily asks the pupils to read newspaper articles and then link them to the themes in citizenship (which are listed on the left hand page). This can then be used as a starter activity, where pupils share their articles and what they have learnt from them.  Thanks Emily, I am sure there are many ways other departments could use something similar.


15 Minute Forum Thursday 19th October 2017 – Organisation

This half term’s 15 Minute Forum focused on the independent learning them for the autumn 2 half term of organisation.  Thank you those who attended, there was a really interesting discussion with many ideas shared:

Items discussed:

  • Providing A5 for students seems more beneficial, dissuades them from folding sheets/losing sheets if we ask them to stick them in straight away.
  • One thought was to check glue/scissor provisions per department to enable better organisation of sheets.
  • One method was to offer an ‘organisation buddy/guru’ who could model how they organise their books.
  • Staff members could model organisation, or at least explain how you might analyse a text using the visualisers.  Also, providing consistency when starting a new topic – how do we expect students to begin/note take? For Sixth Form, it would be useful if they have been offered ideas of how to organise that they can select for their own notes right from the beginning.
  • We could even narrate mark and explain why we have put ‘SP’ here (using a visualiser, or photocopied piece of work per class member) or explained why this piece of text/answer is a Level 4 and not 5 and the whole class puts the same response.
  • One point was raised about personal organisation systems of students which may be different to those modelled, and may seem like ‘organised chaos’ but works for the student.
  • In response to this, some members suggested asking students to justify their organisation strategies in 1:1 meetings e.g. ok find me information on this in your book, show me the definition of this term in your book.  Any organisation system is fine, but justification may be required to ensure that it is organised? [Just a thought from the group].
  • Perhaps one of the themes from the Peer Mentors/Y12s could be organisation.
  • Knowledge organisers were raised – is this a good thing?  One staff member talked about the Michaela School using it across all subjects and it seems to be working?  A blog has been forwarded from HUM to all members of the T&L forum.
  • A contents page at the start of the exercise book that the students keep referring to?  Numbered pages for exercise books? All of the assessed work in a separate book?
  • Y10 induction might be useful for providing parents/students with ideas on how to organise.
  • Photocopy planners as part of work scrutiny to see who students are coping with their organisation?


  • There should be a focus on presentation skills – this is in the 6th theme – research skills. Could/should it be sooner?

Microsoft Teams in Office 365

You may have noticed in O365 that there is an app called ‘Teams’.  This is something that I trialled with the student digital leaders last term and was very successful for efficient and safe online communication, sharing of files and resources.  We have since adopted it as a PE department to use with our sports teams.  It is perfect for groups of people such as clubs, ambassadors, departments or even with classes, if you want to use OneNote (although OneNote can be set up separately).  The mobile app is very useful and allows the staff and students to ‘follow’ the channel giving notifications directly to the device.

15 Minute Forum 15th December – Homework

This half term’s forum was focused on homework.  We took a brief look at the EEF’s toolkit which outlines the findings from educational research into homework at secondary level (link below).  On average, the impact of homework on learning is consistently positive (leading to on average five months’ additional progress).  However, beneath this average there is a wide variation in potential impact, suggesting that how homework is set is likely to be very important.

The toolkit states that homework is most effective when:

  • it is used as a short and focused intervention (e.g. in the form of a project or specific target connected with a particular element of learning)
  • it relates to learning during normal school time
  • it is an integral part of learning, rather than an add-on
  • students are provided with high quality feedback on their work.

We discussed the various types of homework that we all set and agreed that it must not be an add on and must add value to the students’ learning outside the classroom.

English shared their use of the takeaway homework tasks that they have used with some classes and how they had been surprised that most students had chosen the most challenging task, or if they had chosen the lower level, had done the middle task too as an extra challenge!  They felt that this was good for the students to have the choice to differentiate themselves and to choose to present their work in a style that suited them most.  An example of an English takeaway homework can be found below.

We discussed in quite a bit of detail the benefits of flip learning which more colleagues are beginning to experiment with and some very successfully.  The key messages were that flip learning allows the students to do the basic preparatory  work at home leaving the lesson free to build on this basic knowledge and access the content at a higher level developing the required skills.   Some colleagues had experienced some students who had not fully engaged with the process and others who has started the course in this manner had found that persevering and being clear about the expectations, was ensuring that students were completing what was asked of them.  More information about flip learning can be found in the staff area in the CPD folder.



15 Minute Forum Thursday 20th October – Teaching A Level

The latest 15 minute forum was focused on teaching A Level, this was suggested by a colleague who was keen to share ideas.  I couldn’t find any reading that was particularly useful but there was a slide that I sent out with the invite (attached) as a starting point for our discussion.  There were many ideas shared and some of the challenges discussed were common across many departments.  We talked in a quite a bit of detail about independent study and agreed that our next forum would focus on the purpose and effective setting of homework to enhance student progress.

Homework – does it really make a difference?

There has been a lot of discussion around homework over the past few weeks with it being the start of term and I came across this blog from last year which I think is a quick and useful read.  The blog refers to John Hattie’s research into effect sizes.

The main gist is that the ‘findings indicate the highest effects in secondary education are associated with repetition and routine of subject content. Evidence he provides also suggests that homework set in a task format has a higher affect on problem solving skills developing ‘deep learning’. Furthermore, open-ended, unstructured tasks and excessively complex homework tasks have a lower effect overall. So, it comes as no surprise that homework set frequently in short bursts which is closely monitored by the teacher has more impact upon student progress over time.’

Read more here: