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Is homework the most dreaded thing about moving up to secondary school? Even if it isn’t, it is certainly the one thing that we are asked about most frequently, even after students have been at Valley Park for some time.
Why? Well, it is probably because homework requires a significant commitment beyond the end of the school day. Not only that, but home learning tends to change between primary and secondary schools.
What can you expect?
We set homework in the core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) at Key Stage 3 every week, and these pieces of homework should take up to an hour each. Other subjects also set homework, although this might only be once per fortnight, owing to the fact that your child will have a two-week timetable.
On their first day at Valley Park, your child will be issued with their homework planner, which will contain a copy of their timetable, some general information (including some subject support pages) but, arguably most importantly, also a daily diary. Students will be encouraged to record their homework when it is set in their planner so that they have a single point of reference for tracking homework when they arrive home each evening. Parents/carers are asked to monitor and sign the planner each week (there is space to write a note, too, if desired), as it is a key means of communication between home and school; your child’s form tutor will also check and sign the planner weekly.
We know the transition between schools can be particularly challenging when it comes to homework, so do encourage your child to talk to you, or to one of their teachers or their form tutor, if they have worries or concerns. Home learning is an important part of a child’s education, but it should not be to the detriment of their wellbeing.
Homework Support Centre
Some students prefer to arrive at home knowing that all their homework is already completed and, for these students, our Homework Support Centre takes place every day after school in the Library between the following times:
Monday to Thursday 3.05 pm – 4.30 pm • Friday 3.05 pm – 4.00 pm
Staff are available to support students with their homework at the Homework Support Centre, and so it is an ideal opportunity for students to obtain some support with prioritising their workload, planning a piece of work or even locating the resources that they need to use.
Students who attend the Homework Support Centre may avail themselves of the facilities provided by the Library environment, so they have a range of resources available, including computers, books, journals, periodicals and – of course – peace and quiet!
The Library has printing and copying facilities and is open from 8:00 am daily. Do encourage your child to visit it soon after their start at Valley Park, to introduce themselves to Ms Holmes, our Librarian. Ms Holmes can always be relied upon to recommend a good reading book…
What can you do to help?
We are always on hand to support and answer questions if needed, but there are also some small things that make all the difference at home. For example, talking about new secondary school routines can help to normalise change more rapidly. Does your child have a plan for what they are going to do when they come home from school? Will it be homework first, or a break until dinner? There is no single right answer to this question, it’s just a matter of finding the best way for your family.
Is there a quiet space available that is free from distractions at home, or would your child benefit from attending our Homework Support Centre instead? It is well documented these days that electronic devices are a distraction, but establishing expectations right from the start means that everyone knows where they stand, and it can help to avoid nightly arguments, too!
Having regular conversations about homework, and your child’s use of their planner can be very insightful and can help students to become more adept at prioritising their workload. If your child feels overwhelmed, is it because they are spending longer than an hour on one piece of homework? You can always contact us to find out whether they are struggling with a straightforward task or (and this is more common) diligently trying to complete a task that is in fact open-ended.
It is worth remembering that the quantity of homework will build gradually for students as they progress through school and have to fulfil the increasing demands of GCSE, vocational and A Level courses. In Key Stage 3, we know that students are only just beginning their secondary school careers so, in Year 7, we are encouraging our students to acquire great independent home learning habits, ready for the future.