Daily homework

This project has been conducted by Pyrford Primary School (Shelley Tolley ) and Notre Dame School (Jenn Caverhill)

SCOPE OF PROJECT

  • A short homework task is set each day. The homework is differentiated 2 ways to allow those who are confident to consolidate and deepen their learning, while a more supportive exercise allows those who are less confident on the topic to reach a minimum expected level.
  • The research project will be trialled with at least 1 class for a minimum of 1 term.
  • A short evaluation will be completed at least twice (once per half term) during the course of the project; an evaluation template will be provided by SJB.
  • A case study produced to reflect on the project with specific examples and evidence (and research where possible).
  • Showcase the results of the research project at the next primary conference (spring/summer next year)
  • Share the results of the project and work collaboratively to implement it in at least 4 other schools

 

BACKGROUND

Pyrford Primary School

  • 480 children aged from 4 years to 11 years (EYFS to Year 6).
  • Two form entry school, with bulge of 3 classes in Years 1 and 3.
  • Project was to take place with Year 1 children as Year 1 teacher is maths lead at the school, consisting of 90 children in 3 classes.

Notre Dame School

  • An independent school serving children aged 2 years to 18 years (mixed nursery to Year 1, then girls Year 2 through to Upper Sixth).
  • Project was to take place with Year 3 children, consisting of 22 children in 1 class.

 

RESEARCH COMPLETED

Sutton Trust states that “… short focused tasks or activities which relate directly to what is being taught, and which are built upon in school, are likely to be more effective than regular daily homework.” but that “Overall the general benefits are likely to be modest if homework is more routinely set.”

“The purpose of homework should be made explicit to learners; for example, to increase knowledge or fluency in a particular area.”

Education Endowment Foundation, November 2015 recommends that “Effective homework is associated with greater parental involvement and support.” and asks you to consider “How will you design homework to encourage parental engagement?”

 Source: Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit 2015

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/toolkit-a-z/about-the-toolkit/

 

In an interview on Radio 4, John Hattie summarizes his findings on homework. He says:

  • Homework has little effect on pupil achievement
  • 5-10 minutes of homework can have as much of an impact as 1-2 hours
  • It’s better for pupils to reinforce what they have already learnt than to do projects
  • Homework has more effect at secondary level than at primary level

John Hattie says that schools should improve how they use homework rather than getting rid of it entirely.

Source: Hattie, J (25/08/14) The Educators, BBCRadio 4, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0252t4j

The average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement was substantial for secondary school students, but for elementary school students, it hovered around no relationship at all.

 Source: Cooper H, (2008) SEDL Letter Volume XX, Number 2, August 2008, Afterschool, Family, and Community

 

DATA COLLECTION PRIOR TO PROJECT

  • Children assessed individually for a baseline
  • Students completed an online questionnaire as to their attitudes to Maths
  • Parent attitudinal/homework survey
  • Teacher interviews conducted

 

RESOURCES DEVELOPED

  • Questionnaires for teachers, children and parents
  • Information sheets for parents
  • Maths packs at Pyrford – number cards, counting beads, dice, etc.
  • Maths Record Books at Notre Dame – record changing attitudes and what was done
  • Collection of suitable activities and homework sheets to be sent home daily

The two schools needed to take slightly different routes to implementation. This is outlined below.


 

Pyrford Primary School

 Observations from previous year

Class teachers had noted that the biggest impact with home/school learning the previous year, occurred when parents were provided with a 0-6 die at the autumn parent/teaching meeting, and shown a game to help their child learn their doubles. Teachers commented that a large proportion of the children learned their doubles very quickly and could be taught to apply these at school, and build on this knowledge of number facts.

 

First Steps/Resources

Maths packs were put together, with resources being rolled out to children as they were introduced for use in a homework activity. Resources included:

  • Set of 0-10 number cards
  • 2 x 0-6 die
  • 0-50 bead string
  • 0-50 number square
  • 0-100 number square

Each Monday, a homework instruction sheet was produced and emailed to parents using TeacherText and included the following:

  • An explanation of what was being covered in class, why, and (when possible) how it was taught/approached
  • Daily practical games to be played using the resources provided

Each Friday, another sheet was sent home with a set piece of work for children to complete and return to school.

Each sheet (Monday and Friday) provided comment box and parents were asked to respond to school with how they felt homework was received, whether it was purposeful and how their child managed.

Responding to comments as weeks progressed, structure of homework was altered and currently the structure is:

Each Monday a sheet is emailed and sent home as paper copy and includes:

  • Suggested practical activities to support learning for the week that use the resources
  • Suggested online games/activity to support learning
  • Set piece of work for children to complete and return to school, with challenges that children can choose to complete (providing differentiation)

 

Parental Survey September 15

  • sent out, 61 responses:
  • 86% felt homework was important to help child’s learning.
  • 74% said their child enjoyed doing homework
  • 40% felt it could cause arguments and that “it can be a struggle to get a 6 year old to concentrate at 6pm”.
  • 51% want a mixture of activities that can be done with support from adult and those that can be done independently by the child.
  • 52% reported that their child attends an after school activity (including school based club, Mosque, music, sports) 3 or more evenings a week

 

Parent survey end of first term December 2015

90 sent out, 42 returned.

Attitude to homework

  • 95% reported children have enjoyed doing the maths homework (an increase of 21%)
  • 93% reported parents have enjoyed being involved with their child’s homework

Attitude to homework structure

  • 86% rated usefulness of the maths pack as very good or excellent
  • 90% rated the practical activities as very good or excellent
  • 74% rated the online games as very good or excellent
  • 60% preferred a suggested list of activities to be done at any time, rather than a prescribed daily task

Attitude to parental gain and child achievement as a result of homework

  • 95% felt it had been useful in helping parents understand the skills children need to learn
  • 93% felt it had helped their child to practice and consolidate learning that happens in class

69% want homework to continue in its present form


 

Notre Dame School

The project was initially earmarked for a Year 6 class. However, it was changed to a Year 3 class in September. This means that the daily homework only began at the start of the second half of autumn term (2/11/15). The daily homework research is due to conclude mid-February, however the class have requested we continue with it in its current format.

 

First Steps/Resources

  • Girls were given a homework diary to be covered in what they considered to be ‘maths’ pictures. This was to be their Daily Maths Record Book. It created a sense of excitement, pride and ownership.
  • Letters were sent home to the parents explaining the reasoning behind the project.

Each Monday, a homework instruction sheet was produced and stuck into their homework diaries:

  • This explained the required activity or exercise for each afternoon
  • Homework was differentiated and linked either to the specific topic for that week, or specific practice in mental arithmetic and problem solving
  • Consisted of a combination of mental arithmetic workbooks, online exercises, worksheets and practical activities and games.

Children and parents were required to comment in the Maths Record book for each activity they completed. This was anything from “This work was very easy” to “She found this incredibly difficult, can you please go through (this topic) with her in class.”

The comments in the Maths Record Book were used to plan and differentiate both future homework and in-school lessons.

When asked about the daily homework, the children have all said that they would like to continue with this system, as it consolidates what they have learnt for the week.

 

Results of child attitudinal survey October ‘15 vs January ‘16

  • 24% of children stated Maths was not one of their favourite subjects, vs only 10% after half a term of daily maths homework
  • Differentiated homework means that the percentage of children who are confident in their maths knowledge has improved from 52% to 75%
  • In the class, 80% of children now feel like they know what they are being asked to do, up from 62% in October. This includes both EAL and SEN children.
  • The practical activities have illustrated that maths is useful in many more places than the classroom, and there is an increase in children realising that they will need maths in any future job they have – whereas in October 25% of girls had thought they wouldn’t need maths, 100% of the girls now know that maths is everywhere, and similarly can be used to solve all sorts of problems
  • Confidence in times tables and mental arithmetic have also improved

 

ISSUES and BARRIERS

 

  • Not all parents are engaging in homework activities.   Have emailed the instructions/directions and provided paper copies, along with the maths resources in the children’s maths packs. However, we still do not have 100% involvement and some parents are complaining that we are expecting too much of the children. Children have too many afterschool activities or clubs and homework is not seen as a priority.

 

  • There are some girls who do not stick to the time limit of 10 minutes and prefer to sit working on homework for longer. Parents miss the point by saying they don’t have time during the week but will “catch it all up over the weekend”. This can only be overcome by long term ‘training’ of the children and parents to see the importance of little and often, rather than leaving it to complete in one big chunk.

 

  • Setting differentiated daily homework takes up a large chunk of time for the teacher. It then takes even longer to mark the work daily, and the timetable does not often allow for this – especially as you get higher up in the school. This has been overcome by setting online work (marked by computer) and by parent marking of mental maths – which also enables immediate feedback. In the lower year groups, we suggest there are more practical real-world based activities and games to be completed.

 

  • The timings of the project mean that there has not been enough term time to give a full picture of the impact of setting daily homework.

 

IMPACT SO FAR

One term is too short to have definitive proof of impact, however it does seem to have improved attitudes towards maths and confidence in the subject.

With more time, and rolling out across the whole school, we believe that children would become more used to doing the work in smaller chunks, little and often, rather than one big piece of work a week – for example overall Times Tables test results in the Year 3 class have improved since we started testing the girls daily rather than weekly (started last year).

We feel that it will make a positive difference in the medium to long term. I’ve seen the difference that regular homework on Accelerated Maths (online programme) can achieve and am hopeful that similar, if not better, results can be attained through regular practice via a more varied level of approaches to support, consolidate and extend classwork.

This supports the predictions, however, it is important to note that this should not be taken on as a single solution, and instead must be adapted to fit into the culture of the school.

 

Example comments from parents on surveys

“A very enjoyable experience. Would like it to continue.”

“I have been surprised by how much (she) has improved with her maths over one term.”

 “The online games became a turning point in interest. They were thoroughly enjoyed… He’s improved a lot this term, in my opinion.”

“We have found that the homework has helped and (her) learning has suddenly come along this second half of term”

 “(Her) maths skills and speed at recalling number facts have visibly improved hugely since the homework started so I am all in favour.”

 “I think the concept is good and my child is keen to do it. “

 “I think that any work that comes home from school can only aid in the children’s development. Keeping it concise and not too long (especially for parents who work/have other children) is helpful too.”

 

Other comments, regarding types of activities and future suggestions

“I prefer the practical activities to online games as you can do them on the journey to school.”

 “More games which can be done in the car…. (he) manages better without props to distract him.”

 “Doing it every night was a bit too much for us so we ended up doubling up on some nights. It was much easier when it was suggestions.”

 “Keep up with the online games. It makes it fun.”

 “More easy reasoning questions.”

“Perhaps some sheets of easy sums and a challenge to time yourself to get quicker at recalling them.”

 “I think the homework should be more ability driven and tailored to the child’s ability as setting work that is too easy could disengage the child. Maybe do workbooks for the children on-line that have levels to work through.”

 “I would prefer a book to hand homework in.”

 “(He) has enjoyed the homework and been challenged too.”

 “Five times a week may be a bit much, three times a week may be better.”

 “I like having a combination of worksheets, games and online activities. It keeps it interesting.”

 “I feel much happier tackling my homework on my own now – I thought I wouldn’t like it but more maths every day has made it seem easier.”

 

Observations/Children’s progress

Class teachers report an increase in children’s engagement with maths and their levels of confidence with number facts and calculation, although this cannot be attributed entirely to the homework!

It has definitely increased parental involvement and engagement in their children’s learning in maths and raised the profile of maths with parents in Year 1 and Year 3.

This correlates with current research and pedagogical theory.


 

CONSIDERATIONS FOR FURTHER IMPLEMENTATION

  • Key message should be ‘Little and Often’
    • This needs to be communicated clearly to parents from the start
    • Children must be taught the value of daily practice
    • Homework must serve a purpose and not just ‘fill time’

 

  • It should involve not only consolidation of the week’s work, but also times tables, mental arithmetic skills and problem solving
    • Give parents practical solutions to fit this into a busy working day e.g. Practicing tables or number bonds in the car every day, or practical activity asking the time at random points through a day, or asking children to help with the costing of shopping trips
    • Use to illustrate the practical real world use of maths skills

 

  • Must be adapted to the resources, requirements and culture of each particular school environment
    • Should fit in with expectations and demands on children (extra-curricular commitments etc.)
    • Make use of existing resources as much as possible
    • Meet expectations of parents as far as level of work required
    • An element of fun, and opportunity for challenge for all abilities, should be evident

 

  • Daily homework cannot be used as a stand-alone solution, but instead should be seen to support the wider teaching practice
    • Looking at methodology and using the homework to consolidate knowledge
    • Using terminology to discuss and understand what is happening
    • Should be a tool to help improve maths skills and confidence in all areas of maths
    • Must not be threatening or used as punitive measure!

 

  • If adapting this programme of daily homework, it must be ensured that it does not become onerous for either children or teachers
    • Setting of differentiated homework daily is work intensive
    • Work set needs to be marked daily in order to be effective
    • Solutions need to be found to avoid it becoming unmanageable
    • Must link clearly to learning in class that day/week

 

  • Trackable online maths programmes (e.g. Accelerated Maths, PurpleMash, Mathletics) should be investigated to help provide options within budget that are workable for teachers, as well as providing cross curricular links to ICT which involves different thinking skills

 

Click here to download the powerpoint on Daily Homework from the spring conference  Session 2 – Homework

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