ST ALBAN’S INDEPENDENT LEARNING POLICY 2019
At the heart of the New Curriculum for Wales are the 12 Pedagogical Principles and 4 Purposes. We have a responsibility to create Authentic Learning Experiences and develop Lifelong Learners.
The redesign of our Independent Learning policy has been key in our response to this. We want, as a school, to place real emphasis on the idea of students taking responsibility for and having ownership of the learning which they carry out independently. For this to work, they need to be allowed flexibility to approach their studies in their own ways.
There is a great deal of current research on this topic, which suggests that the educational value of ‘homework’ is dubious. Numerous schools have moved to the idea of it being optional or have discarded the idea altogether. However, we disagree, for the following reasons:
- All schools expect pupils to revise for assessments and exams while at home so independent learning throughout the year prepares them for this.
- We also believe that developing the skills and motivation to learn independently is a key life skill that we see as our responsibility to provide for our young people.
- We need to prepare them for a world in which the labour market is changing and increasing numbers of people work from home permanently or part-time. This requires discipline and organisation.
- Most professional jobs and many white collar clerical occupations now expect employees to work remotely after their usual working hours to meet targets or complete tasks. Teaching is certainly one of them!
- Many manual roles might require people to study at home in preparation for work, for example familiarising themselves with instruction manuals on how to operate a machine.
- The ability to research in order to make personal life decisions is vital, for example, in choosing mortgage options.
- Last, and by no means least, we hope to spark a curiosity about and interest in the world in which we live.
Departments/AoLEs (Areas of Learning and Experience) will save resources for Independent Learning on the School website in a tab, which requires a single school user name and password available to all pupils and parents in the school. These will be in pdf format and can obviously be downloaded or printed at home if necessary but the school will ensure that each pupil has a single printed copy of each piece of work/booklet.
Types of work to be set
Each Area of Learning and Experience is very different, in terms of the nature of the study to be undertaken. We are also keen to ensure variety for learners in order to engage their interest and allow them to develop their ability to learn in different ways. They need to experiment to find the best way to study for themselves, as people have preferred styles of and approaches to learning independently.
So the types and format of tasks will vary, depending on Schemes of Learning for each half term and approaches to study more suited to different disciplines. Some examples are:
- Weekly Worksheets
- Writing tasks
- Reading Challenges
- Online tasks via websites or Apps
- Research projects (Flipped Learning)
- Preparing presentations (Peer teaching)
- Take Away Menus (a list of tasks from which pupils can select their preferences)
- The Super-Curriculum (Extension ideas for MAT pupils, inspired by The Brilliant Club)
- Revision Guides and Techniques
Due dates and methods of submitting Independent Learning tasks will be equally varied. However, flexibility has to be built-in to enable young people to organise their own Study Timetable. Students may wish to use physical timetables, Apps, their mobile phone calendar or take a more fluid approach to the completion of the tasks they have chosen. They will be expected to organise this learning themselves and meet expectations, without being ‘chased-up’ or ‘spoon-fed’.
Because they might well benefit from support with this approach, we wanted to improve the communication of the set tasks to parents and carers, empowering you to help pupils to organise their time, understand work and make progress. We recognise that this is a key area for those at home who want to understand in more depth what is expected of their young people and want to respond in a real, practical and clear way.
We also intend to offer support in school, with lunchtime independent learning sessions, similar to supervised ‘prep time’ in the private sector, where pupils are expected to prepare for and embed their learning from lessons in a less directed way. Mrs Read will run these sessions once a week in a computer suite so that all have access to IT if necessary for their work. (B6 Wednesday lunchtimes lesson 5/6).
As a school, we pride ourselves on our effective marking policy. Our marking is purposeful and all our time is spent ensuring that feedback is personal, focused and practical in order to ‘close the gap’ in attainment and generate progress. St Alban’s has historically developed a culture whereby pupils are expected to perform their best in assessments every half term. These take place under controlled conditions and ensure that the work is a true reflection of the pupils’ understanding. This reliability means that feedback is at its most effective. Working outside of these classroom conditions means that the work might not be a true reflection of a pupil’s own ability, making marking and feedback flawed and ineffective.
Therefore, teachers will monitor and choose to respond to students’ independent learning tasks in a variety of ways, as appropriate to the task, expectations and conditions of production. This might involve:
- Verbal feedback
- Teacher marking
- Feedback lessons
- Constructive comments: WWW (What Went Well) and EBI (Even Better If…)
- PPP (Purple Pen of Progress)
- Marking of presentations
- Celebration events
Rest assured, teachers will continue to prioritise marking in school, as we firmly believe in Assessment FOR LEARNING; we recognise and respect the fact that recognition of the efforts made is very important to students and those who support them at home. A positive response to independent learning is vital to encourage continued motivation.
Please contact the school with any queries: firstname.lastname@example.org