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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 2017

KS1
Next term our KS1 topic will be ‘Once Upon a Time’.

We challenge you to choose traditional tale to read, watch or listen to, then to learn it so that you can retell it to other people.
You might even want to use props or dressing up clothes!

Click here to download the challenge.

KS2
This term we have been learning a lot about our ‘Heritage’ and what it means.
  • We have made and shared our family histories (in our ‘A Brief History of Me’ home learning project).
  • We have all visited a local museum and thought about how and why objects are chosen to be part of museum displays. •
  • We have received a visit from curators at the Pathfinder Collection. • We have even made our own museums and shared them with other people (for our ‘A Mini- Museum of Me’ home learning project).

Now it’s time to think a bit more about our local heritage, right here at Wyton on the Hill…

For example, did you know that…?
  • ...in 1916, Wyton first became a flying base and that the first operational flight of the Great War took off from Wyton?
  • ...in 1919 the air base was closed and the land was returned to farming?
  • ...in 1935, the air base was rebuilt here and in 1937 it became operational?
  • ...on 3rd September 1939, the first operational flight of World War II took off from Wyton? (It was a Blenheim aircraft)
  • ...in 1942 (75 years ago in August!), The Pathfinder Force was formed and Wyton became its headquarters?
  • ...in 1953, a Canberra aircraft from Wyton won the London to New Zealand air race?

 

We challenge you to choose an aspect or event from our local history at Wyton on the Hill to research.
•Maybe you would like to find out more about one of the aircraft that were housed here? (Some are mentioned in the did you know box)
•Maybe you would like to research one of the pilots who flew from here?
•Maybe you would like to find out more about the equipment used in photographic reconnaissance?
•Or maybe you have a research idea of your own?

First choose your research area. Next do your research.
Then decide how to represent your learning*. Don’t forget to hand in your home learning challenge by 5th May 2017.
Finally present your learning to your class or as part of our home learning Big Conversation.

*Remember, you can present your learning in any way you like – report, poster, sculpture, painting, rap, song, piece of music, video, letter, argument, PowerPoint, play script, model, blog, advert – or any combination of these. It’s up to you!

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        
 
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.
 
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