Independent Study Policy
Developing the skills to study independently is our aspiration for all students at The Marches School. We aim to help students grow and apply these skills as they move through all phases of their education in our school.
Key Stage 3 and Beyond
Independent study is defined in this policy as any work set by teachers or completed voluntarily by stusents that takes place outside the classroom/timetabled lessons. Every subject area has its own specific requirements regarding the type and frequency of home learning/independent study set, according to the demands of the subject, curriculum time and what has been proven to be effective. However, every subject operates within the following framework:
It is our aim that home learning/independent study should be set early during the lesson allowing time for students to ask questions about the task/s and ensure that they have fully understood the instructions, how it fits in with the course they are studying and why the additional learning is important. Home learning/independent study should be clearly explained and communicated to students and parents/carers using systems adopted in individual schools. Students are required to record the details of tasks into their planners although, in some instances, the teacher will provide this for students.
Independent study deadlines:
To minimise stress for students, and to allow them the opportunity to plan commitments around their interests outside school, students should be given sufficient time to complete tasks to a high standard.
Quantity of independent study:
Students should expect an amount of independent study tasks from each subject proportionate to the number of lessons they have in that subject per week. More able students should not necessarily expect more tasks, but more challenging tasks.
Quality not quantity:
Independent study should only be set when there is a clear benefit to the students. It should never be set for its own sake.
Appropriateness of tasks:
Where possible, tasks should be differentiated for classes and individuals within classes. Teachers should refer to students’ ability and progress, putting measures in place to ensure that all students can access their task. As students move through the school, independent study tasks should prepare them for examinations and may include past paper questions and revision strategies for recalling knowledge.
Supporting students with independence:
Many students require additional support to complete independent study tasks. They may require a quiet place to work, access to a school computer or further support from their teacher. Teachers and progress leaders will endeavour to provide this support within lunchtime and after school independent study/homework clubs.
Teacher feedback on home learning/independent study:
Studnets invest time and effort on independent work and will quite rightly want to know how well they have completed the tasks. Therefore, feedback will be timely and in line with the school’s assessment policy.
Consequences of not completing tasks:
If a student is not going to be able to complete an independent study task on time, every effort should be made to communicate this with teachers so that either the task can be explained again or an extension to the deadline may be negotiated with the teacher. Students will be encouraged to manage their independent study workload and support will be provided to achieve this, however persistent failure to meet deadlines will result in sanctions.
Types of independent study:
Students will receive a wide range of independent study tasks from their teachers over the course of a year. These may include but not be limited to;
These are teacher directed tasks. The teacher will formally set the specific work with clear instructions and deadlines.
A series of tasks or activities are set for a half term or term and students are asked to select activities of their choice from the menu. The menus will cater for a range of abilities and preferred learning styles. Strict deadlines will be issued but there is an element of choice for the student in the style or type of task.
Projects are set over number of weeks at the discretion of the teacher. These projects will require the student to be independent and to demonstrate good organisational skills. This type of independent learning develops a variety of skills and enables the student to spend time on areas of interest within the project. Students will be expected to touch base with their teachers and explain how they are progressing with the project.
Teachers issue topics to be researched and learnt prior to a lesson. The student’s research and understanding enables them to take part in a series of activities and tasks in the classroom. The ‘learning’ element is done independently prior to the class-based tasks.
This style of independent study prepares older students for Higher Education. It is particularly important for GCSE and A Level learner to ‘read around’ their topics and themes although it can be set for any year group.
Revision tasks will be given to all year groups at various points during the year. GCSEs and A Levels have changed and become more ‘linear.’ This means that there is less coursework or controlled assessment, and more importance is placed on terminal examinations. In preparation for this we will regularly set revision, retrieval, and recall tasks. We will train students in a variety of methods for conducting this. We encourage parents to actively engage in this homework with their children.
In addition to the independent tasks above, we place high value on reading for pleasure and would encourage all students to read for pleasure at home. The power of reading is not to be underestimated and improving reading skills can have a huge impact on overall progress. As a part of a ‘reading multi-academy trust,’ we all read together during Reading Time during the school day. We recommend that additional reading takes place every evening for at least 15 minutes for all our students.