1. Aims and Objectives
This policy is intended:
to direct Primary Class teachers when assigning homework to their pupils
to inform parents about guidelines to be followed in connection with homework tasks
- to make clear what is expected of pupils
2. Assigning Homework
2.1 The teacher should have clear objectives when assigning homework.
The homework should aim to help pupils:
- consolidate what they had done in class
- extend what has been learnt for example by carrying out research work
- prepare for future learning
- develop time management skills and responsibility for carrying out their work correctly
- progress towards independence and individual responsibility
2.2 Teachers are to make sure that ‘doing homework’ becomes an enjoyable experience by motivating their pupils to do it. This in turn would help pupils to look forward to produce neat, correct and well planned work. Homework should never be a form of punishment.
2.3 Homework should reinforce the work being done in class. Teachers should plan the homework they intend to give so that it would be relevant to the syllabus learning outcomes being focused on. It should never be an isolated exercise set by the teacher at the last moment.
2.4 Homework should always be clearly explained and should be part and parcel of the lesson given during the plenary. Homework should not be a slot in the timetable. Homework covering the three main subjects – Mathematics, English and Maltese should be assigned on a regular basis.
2.5 In our school special emphasis should be made on receptive literacy skills (reading). At least twice a week, pupils and parents should be made aware that homework does not consist of written work only by assigning reading tasks. In the early years it is essential that pupils are encouraged to become familiar with books by looking at pictures, trying to read and telling the class about the story they are reading. As they grow older the pupils could start reading articles and downloading information to share with others.
2.6 Once a week, the pupils should be given homework activities related to the broader curriculum, including aspects of the different subjects taught at Primary level, for example tasks complementing project work being carried out at school.
2.7 The type of homework set for the pupils should be stimulating, and varied to cover a range of tasks, including written work, research work, reading, studying, cutting and pasting of pictures, drawing and colouring,. This depends on the age and ability of the pupils, as well as the skills the pupils need to work on.
2.8 This policy demands that teachers give due importance to quality rather than quantity. Teachers are to make sure that the amount of homework assigned should be fairly distributed on the five school days, avoiding too much homework on one day and far less on the next. Homework duration should take into account the pupils’ age:
20 to 30 minutes
30 to 45 minutes
For the weekend/holidays this time can be extended by half an hour to include reading in L1 and L2.
2.9 Assigning homework is the sole responsibility of the class teacher. Learning Support Assistants with special needs children and complementary teachers are not bound to assign homework, but they may do so. In this case, the class teacher should be consulted.
3. Giving Feedback
3.1 Teachers must give immediate feedback to their pupils regarding their learning through homework tasks. Teachers are to avoid the extensive use of red ink and the use of depreciative remarks in their written feedback. There ought to be appreciation of efforts and remarks that promote improvements. When the teachers assign a piece of writing the marking must be accompanied by an encouraging comment on achievement gained that enhances self-confidence and self-esteem by helping the pupils to ameliorate their efforts, for example: ‘You made good use of some describing words.’
3.2 Feedback should focus on the learning intention of the task, for example, to use doubling and halving or to recognise numbers to 20, taking into consideration both success and improvement needs.
3.3 It is very important that constructive feedback is given to pupils. If a sum or sentence is incorrect the pupil must be helped to understand why and encouraged to try to improve performance. For example, “Try to change two words in your writing for more interesting or better words.” While marking, the teachers should keep in mind the objective of the task given to the pupils. The correction can either be whole-class correction during plenary when tackling common difficulties or on individual basis.
3.4 Remarks like, “you could have done better” make little sense to the pupils. Teacher’s marking of copybooks must not be taken from the time allocated for the lessons.
4. Informing Parents
4.1 Homework is a good indication of what is being taught at school for those parents who help their children at home, since the homework complements class work.
4.2 Pupils should be assigned work according to their different abilities even within the same class. A particular task is not necessarily appropriate for the whole class; hence the teachers should set graded tasks and assign different homework to different groups or individuals within their class. Teachers are to inform the parents about the benefits of this practice – where pupils can work at their own pace in achieving learning targets linked to the same syllabus topic – during the first Parents’ Meeting in October.
5. Measures and Record Keeping
5.1 When a pupil fails to produce his/her homework, he/she is asked to produce it the next day. If the homework is not produced the following day parents are to be informed by a written note, which they are kindly asked to sign. The teacher should keep a record and make sure that the note is returned to school. If the pupil fails to submit the homework for the third time the teacher should inform the senior management team who in turn would send for the parents. The teacher would then keep a record of this meeting. For no reason should the pupils be punished by not being allowed to play during the break when they do not produce their homework.
5.2 When a pupil is absent from school no written homework is assigned, instead:
- parents are advised to encourage children to read and/or revise coursework;
- the teacher revises work related to learning outcomes covered during the pupil’s absence on his/her return.
- the teacher will explain and assign any homework that the pupil has missed on his/her return (this is done over a period of time depending on the duration of the child’s absence).
6. Parents’ Duties
Parents are advised to:
attend the first Parents’ Meeting in October when the policy is explained to them
- provide child with a home environment that helps him/her to focus on the task assigned as homework without interruptions
- monitor child’s progress by checking homework copybooks on a daily basis, seeing that child has completed assigned tasks and has carried out other homework tasks, such as reading, project related work; and talk about tasks assigned
- collaborate with the teacher when a note is sent home regarding their child’s failure to produce the homework on time
- encourage child to read and/or revise work during absence from school
- follow child’s progress by reading teacher’s written feedback
- address homework related problems immediately
- keep the teacher/school informed about homework related difficulties
7. Pupils’ Duties
Pupils are expected to:
- carry out homework tasks neatly and carefully and during time set
- hand in homework on time
- read teacher’s feedback and do their best to improve performance in future tasks
- revise work covered
- find time each day to read for pleasure