Header
 
Overview of Home Learning at Wyton on the Hill
 

Thank you to those parents who completed the ParentView Parent Survey we ran during the Key Stage 2 production this July. One of the issues which still appears to be causing the most debate is that of Home Learning. Some parents feel that we expect their children to do far too much homework, while others complain that we do not set enough. We have recently revised our Home Learning Policy to try to strike a balance between those activities which can be done on a home computer, tablet or other device and those which require a more detailed, written response.

Our Home Learning Policy was written in consultation with other Local Authority cluster schools, local English and Mathematics Consultants, members of staff and a group of Wyton Primary School parents.
During the consultation, it was agreed that the purpose of Home Learning at Wyton on the Hill Primary School was to support and reinforce learning undertaken in school, not to put the parent in the role of teacher. The following aims were identified and underpin all activities sent home:

  • to foster a culture of reading across the school for this we use mainly our book banding and reading logs in Reception and KS1 and the Accelerated Reader system in Key Stage 2.
  • to improve standards in spelling across the school – for this we use the National Curriculum word lists for each year group / phase with regular testing in school to identify the words children need to learn next.
  • to continue to consolidate basic maths skills and their application to real life situations - for this we use our ‘Mathletics Live’ system.

Weekly home learning activities, therefore, consist of reading, spelling and basic maths skills practice. In addition, for those parents who feel we do not set enough home learning, we are introducing a new ‘Can You…? Half Termly Home Learning Challenge!’.

The full policy can be viewed here.

Why Reading? (‘That’s not proper homework…’)
In school there is so much for us to teach and such little time that we cannot give children the time they need to explore and develop their own reading preferences. We teach reading skills explicitly in school every day, but if we had the time, we would also give the children at least half an hour in school every day to read books of their own choice. Why? Because:

  • reading helps children develop vital language and vocabulary skills;
  • reading can open up new worlds and enrich children's lives;
  • reading can enhance children's personal development, helping them to develop and identify their own opinions, preferences, beliefs and understanding of their world and how it works;
  • reading can fire children’s creativity;
  • reading can provide children with plenty of great entertainment!

We think reading practising reading at home is ‘proper homework’ because it gives children the time and space ever day to practise the skills we are teaching them in school. For a child’s-eye view of how it feels for children who don’t have the necessary age-related reading skills, watch this video from the charity Save the Children:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN33vilOTbg

Still not convinced?
Here’s another video from Save the Children called ‘Ten Minutes Could Change Everything’. Not for the faint-hearted and a bit too hard-hitting for children:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orb6xXPPBKo

If you are interested in how you can support your children’s reading at home further, this Parents’ Guide from Pearson Education may be useful:
http://uk.pearson.com/content/dam/ped/pei/uk/pearson-uk/Campaigns/Enjoy_Reading/Pearson_EnjoyReading_03.pdf

Alternatively, please contact your child’s class teacher for more information.

In addition to their weekly reading practice, pupils in Years 1 and 6 will also be given a written task to complete in their Home Reading Journals on a weekly basis, but they will only ever be set at a level which they regularly complete independently at their stage of learning in school. These tasks will be marked either with or by the class teacher and mistakes addressed before the next home learning task is sent home.



 

Why Spelling? (‘Can’t they just use spell checkers?’)
Children need time to process spelling patterns, to make associations with other spellings they know, to investigate root words and identify meanings. Again, if we had unlimited time, we would spend a good 45 minutes on spelling in school every day. But we don’t; we have time for one long spelling session a week to provide children with strategies on how to learn and use their spellings effectively, followed by much shorter daily review sessions to consolidate this learning. We therefore set the ‘nitty gritty’ of learning the spellings as a home learning task. Why? Because:

  • good spelling is necessary for the development of good written English and can also support the development of reading;
  • confidence and fluency in spelling allows children to spend more time thinking about the creative content and style of their writing than on the mechanics of how to write it;
  • poor spelling can have unexpected consequences; I read on the internet the other day that a man who was abroad on business was missing his wife, so he texted her the following message (with fairly explosive consequences): “Having a good trip – just wish you were her!”
  • in the future, our children will be applying for jobs which may involve some hand written communication – a life time of poor spelling habits cannot easily be reversed or made up for.

If your child is finding it tricky to learn their spellings at home, this guide outlines some of the strategies they could try.


 

Why basic maths? (‘I want to help my child with maths. Why doesn’t the school send home a sheet of calculations for my child so I can teach them at home as well?’)
In preparing our Home Learning Policy, we bought in a well-respected local maths consultant to help us review our teaching and assessment of Mathematics. While she was here, we also enquired about buying in her time to help run parent workshops for parents who want to be able to teach their children maths at home. Her answer was short and clear: “Don’t do that!” Her reasons?

  • Research into the teaching of maths has changed everything about the calculation methods we teach children nowadays. Teachers have been through extensive training in order to deliver the precise progression of methods we use in school and whilst it is possible to inform parents about these methods, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to pass on everything we know to our parents as well as our children. Another maths consultant we spoke to used this analogy: “I drive a car every day, but you wouldn’t want me to fix your brakes…even with a manual!”
  • ‘Practice makes permanent’; as adults we can all remember the methods we used at school and it takes a long time (even for teachers who teach maths everyday) to switch to the new methods we use in school now. It is very tempting to just say to our children ‘Look, I’ll show you a quicker way…’ But often, the ‘quicker ways’ we used at school were built on process rather than on understanding and can really damage children’s progress if they are not at that particular stage of development in their mathematical thinking.
  • Time spent at home on Maths, would be better focussed on consolidating the basics such as ‘times tables’ and ‘number facts’ which children need to know ‘off by heart’ in order to make progress in their mathematical understanding in lessons. Our ‘Mathletics Live’ system is ideal for that kind of ‘quick fire’ practice, which is why our policy suggests at least three practice sessions a week for all year groups.

In addition to their weekly ‘Mathletics Live’ practice, pupils in Years 1 and 6 will also be given written maths calculation practice in their Maths Home Learning Books on a weekly basis, but they will only ever be set at a level which they regularly complete independently at their stage of learning in school. These tasks will be marked either with or by the class teacher and mistakes addressed before the next home learning task is sent home.
If your child has forgotten a strategy taught in school, please refer them to our Calculations Policy , which will provide them with examples to prompt their memory.

At Wyton on the Hill, therefore, teachers in all year groups only send home weekly ‘Learn Its’ practice sheets and / or ‘Mathletics’ online home learning activities which will help children to consolidate the learning they have been doing in school.
Pupils in Years 5 and 6 may also be given written maths calculation practice on a weekly or fortnightly basis, but they will only ever be set at a level which they regularly complete independently at their stage of learning in school.


 

Our most recent ‘Can You…?' Half Termly Home Learning Challenges

March 2018

Easter Holiday Learning Challenge: Can you write a Remembrance message for the Royal British Legion to take on their Grand Pilgrimage ?

• What was The Grand / Greatest Pilgrimage in 1928 and why did people do it?
•What is the Menin Gate and why is it important to many people?
• How do you think they might have been feeling as they walked through the battle fields to the Menin Gate in 1928?
• What do you think they might have been thinking?
• What is Remembrance and why is it important to so many people?
• What are poppies so important to so many people?
• Based on what you have learned and thought about, what message of Remembrance would you like to send to the Menin Gate this August?

Remember: You can present your research and messages in any form you like – leaflet; poster; Power point; letter ; picture ; painting; story; poem – it’s up to you! We will be sharing our work in a Big Conversation and choosing a selection to put in our time capsule. In addition, the Royal British Legion will be choosing messages to take on their Grand Pilgrimage wreaths this August.

Useful research links

The Grand Pilgrimage:
http://branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/bordon/grand-pilgrimage-90
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-greatest-pilgrimage (this video does not have sound)
http://branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/st-ives/every-man-remembered

The Menin Gate:
http://www.greatwar.co.uk/events/menin-gate-last-post-ceremony.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menin_Gate

Remembrance and why we remember:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/ww1/25628092
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/15492752

Click here to download the challenge.

 
Previous homework tasks
 
July 2015 October 2015 December 2015 February 2016 March 2016 May 2016
October 2016 December 2016 March 2017 October 2017    
 
And some results from Home Learning tasks...
Click on each one to view in a larger window.
HomeLearning15-1   HomeLearning15-2   HomeLearning15-3   HomeLearning15-4
 
 
   
Wyton on the Hill Primary School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.
 
© Wyton on the Hill Primary School