I am committed to helping my team reduce their marking burden, not least for their wellbeing, but also from a dogged determination to strip back anything that does not help students make progress.
Homework has been a contentious issue for our department, and I’m sure many others. The increase in writing and marking for 4 essay-heavy exams has meant teachers have had little time for more than a cursory glance at written homework tasks. We are in the process of embedding whole class feedback next year, but I certainly didn’t want book marking to be replaced with homework marking. However, there seems to be solid evidence that ‘the impact of homework on learning is consistently positive (leading to on average five months’ additional progress)’ (source: EEF ). The caveat being that this is highly dependent on the type of homework and how it fits into the SoW.
“In the most effective examples homework was an integral part of learning, rather than an add-on. To maximise impact, it is also appears to be important that students are provided with high quality feedback on their work”
It seems important then that tasks are relevant and that if they require feedback, this is more than a cursory glance.
Homework booklets will address Vocabulary, Grammar and Reading in KS3 and Vocabulary, Content Knowledge & Reading in KS4. Each booklet has the same structure and rotation of tasks to develop a sense of routine. One thing we need to foster in our cohort is habit – the importance of doing similar things over and over again.
The readings are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, with a series of short answer questions or short written responses that can be peer marked, and easily checked by teachers. I want students to see reading as something so fundamental to their learning that it invades every element of our subject. We are lucky enough to have reading embedded in our tutor time once a week and the majority of students read now, with great focus and concentration. For the remaining, reluctant readers the booklet provides an opportunity for buddy reading, tutor assisted intervention or even whole class reading.
The extracts are closely linked to the unit texts and inspired by a range of sources seen on Twitter – Doug Lemov (@Doug_Lemov), Rob Ward (@RobWard79) and Eleanor Mears (@EnglishEffects) to name a few. They include key unit vocabulary in context as well as critical discussions of the themes or big ideas in the texts. A better grasp of big ideas and themes was a key recommendation in the AQA GCSE English Literature examiner report. As a result, rather than skimming over the content, students will have the opportunity to reflect on these themes through a variety of forms (novel, non-fiction article and discussion/debate) and over a period of time.
Access some of the extracts here: These will be added to over time.