Tag Archives: Personalised learning

T & L activity of the week – Students deliver a connect activity

The ultimate goal of independent learning is that students take ownership of their own learning and therefore shape the lesson. This can be achieved through students planning and delivering a connect activity that recaps prior learning.

  • For homework, ask students to plan an activity that the class can complete at the start of next lesson that recaps what they learnt in that lesson;
  • This can be scaffolded by discussing as a class what type of activities teachers often set at the start of the lesson;
  • A list of activities could be given to students and they can rank them according to how effectively they help them learn and how appropriate they are to the lesson topic;
  • In the next lesson, either choose one activity to do or have groups of students completing their own tasks that they completed for homework.

The Great Homework Debate

Does homework actually help students to succeed?

Teaching professionals have debated the pros and cons of homework since the early 1900s. Here at Paddington Academy, we strongly believe that excellent homelearning routines are key to student success.


Here’s what some of our teachers think about homelearning:

James Harding (Science):

‘ Homework is absolutely crucial to our students success, without the independent practice, extension and consolidation that homework provides they will struggle to get the top grades that we want for them. With my GCSE classes I give pupils weekly homework tasks that are mainly focussed on practice questions and consolidation work. Once a half term I give pupils an extension homework where they have to go and research a topic that they have been studying.’

Danny Riley (History),

‘Since beginning my career as a teacher, I have had the opportunity to witness how much pride our students take in completing homework. Ok, so not every student does it but I want to give every student the chance to extend themselves outside of the classroom and in doing so, become better historians.’

There are members of teaching and educational community that disagree with the setting of homework . In the table below we summarise the most common arguments made in objection.  We counter each of these arguments with the current thinking and research, along with evidence from our teaching community.

We hope to continue this debate, so please do let us know your opinion. Do you agree? Does homework help students to succeed? Which tasks have the greatest impact on progress? Share your best practice on our blog!

Homework doesn’t help our students to succeed because….

Wrong! (Evidence to counter this argument)

…the students never hand it in. Over 80% KS3 Paddington students consistently hand in their homework projects.Providing opportunities for homework gives the students that consistently complete it the opportunity to make extra progress.Why do some students never hand in homework? What barriers do students face when it comes to homework? Are EAL, SEN, and literacy the only barriers students can be overcome? How can we design tasks that are interesting enough to overcome the ‘motivation’ barrier?
…we just set it for the sake of it.  We aim to plan homework whilst we are planning our lesson. This helps to ensure that the tasks we set are relevant and meaningful.
…students have plenty of other things to do. We are taking away the time that they need to do other things.  Our students still have plenty of time in the evenings to do other things. KS3 students should aim to do around 1 hours homework per evening. Other activities can easily be arranged around this.We can help students to organise their time more effectively and this will help them to succeed in the future.
…the work that the students hand back in is poor quality, so there’s no point in setting it.  There are many excellent examples of outstanding homelearning by our students. Many of our students take a lot of pride in their homework.Generally we need to ask ourselves why the quality is not great. The greater the emphasis that teachers place on homelearning, the more emphasis that students will place on it.Differentiation of activities will help students to complete the work independently, and they will be more likely to hand in better quality work.
..the research shows that it doesn’t make any difference- why bother?  Hattie’s research suggests that homework has an effect size of d=0.64 at secondary level (equivalent to at least one years learning). More of this in later posts…
…most parents are unable to help students with the homework that we set them.  We can design meaningful tasks that students can complete independently. Students can also attend a multitude of homework clubs if they need help with their work. Teachers are always willing to help students that are stuck. It is essential that we train our students to ask for help.Are our tutor groups aware of when and where the homework clubs take place?
…parents disagree with the setting of homework as it causes stress for families. Parents of students at Paddington Academy are keen for their children to complete homework, Parents regularly ask that more homework is set.
…setting homework will generate more marking.  Not all homework tasks need to be marked by a teacher. At Paddington, peer and self-assessment are firmly embedded within our practice. Students are able to effectively mark and evaluate their own work. Often homeworks can be marked as part of the connect, and this practice can be seen regularly at Paddington.

T&L Agony Aunt!

Dear PA Agony aunt,

What other ways can I differentiate for a dyslexic student, other than using a computer?

Dear PA teacher,

Although the use of a word processor can be very beneficial for a dyslexic student, I understand that it may not always be practical for you in your lessons. Here are some other tips that you may find useful:

  • Check the student’s pen-picture. Every student will be affected by dyslexia differently, and these documents contain tailored advice for every student.
  • Check after every instruction that the student has understood what you have said. Ensure that it is part of your routine to go to that student at the beginning of each task.
  • Break words down into parts. Remember that keywords can be provided syllabically and provided as card sorts. This will help students to learn how to sequence words.
  • Use multiple visual and sensory props. Remember to include aspects of kinaesthetic learning.
  • Be patient and positive. You may not be the only one that is frustrated!

I hope that this helps!

There are new questions on the T&L board in the staff room, such as these. If you have a question for our agony aunt, or would like to suggest some helpful advice to this or other questions, please email Gemma Gordon, or post below.

Agony aunt Qs