Home Learning

Overview

We aim for our students to get the most from their education. In order to achieve this, home learning plays an important role. It serves a number of purposes, including:

  • Supporting students during periods of imposed home learning when they are unable to come to school.
  • Supporting learning in lessons by allowing students to revisit or catch up on work and concepts delivered in school.
  • Encouraging students to develop independent learning skills.
  • Providing an opportunity for students to practise and consolidate what they have learned in lessons.
  • Enabling students to spend more time on tasks than would be possible in lessons and therefore to produce work in greater detail.
  • Preparing students for future lessons, assessments, examinations and the world beyond school.

The School utilises the online homework support tool "Show My Homework" to set all home learning tasks. Students can log in with their Office 365 email address and password. Parents receive an online login code and then can access all home learning tasks set by staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

Through Show My Homework (SMHW). An explanation page for parents can be found in the list of links below this section. Work may exist on Office 365 or on other online platforms but SMHW is the ‘hub’ for home learning.

For periods of home learning, the work should be identifiable by the words ‘home learning’ in the title on SMHW postings or set as a ‘flexible task’.

Work set will complement, further, consolidate, broaden, support, engage and build upon the work being undertaken in school. Its completion is important as the rest of the curriculum builds on the knowledge being learnt now. Think of lessons and home learning as bricks in a wall, if you miss out too many, you won’t have the strength to build up higher.

For periods of home learning, the set work provides a similar amount of thinking and activity as if students were still in school. Sometimes this means the work may take less time than the normal school hour but is has been created to maintain the integrity of the curriculum structure and sequencing of student’s knowledge so students will not need significant catch up work when they return.

All set work is initially checked by the Subject Leader. In fact, much of the work is designed together within Departments and often set across multiple classes. The Senior Leadership Team sample all subjects across every year once a fortnight and share back to Subjects their findings including sharing best practice.

The school welcomes and encourages feedback from parents to; enquiries@bostongrammarschool.co.uk

For periods of home learning, Teachers welcome direct feedback from students, which helps enable the subtle changes that happen more naturally in class. Remember all communication should go through SMHW or the school email system in order to protect staff and students. During periods of partial or full school closure, student voice will be taken each fortnight to get a feel of how the work is going and how they are doing more generally. Student progress will be checked at least once per half term for KS3 students and twice a half term for KS4&5 students.

Home learning should complement lessons and be manageable within a normal working week whilst providing enough work so that all students have homework for every work day evening. Pitching work at the right level is a key skill of a teacher and students should expect the work provided to both support and challenge them. Teachers will always provide the necessary support and guidance for students to feel able to access the work set.

For periods of home learning, the work provided should enable students to engage with the curriculum in addition to their normal homework tasks. As students learn at different rates it will sometimes feel as though there may be a bit more or a bit less than expected but this is perfectly normal and it is important to consider the topic or unit as a whole. As parent and student together, you can make appropriate adjustments to the activities e.g. reducing the amount of written work if the activity takes you over the normal allotted time. Staff will sometimes create pre-recorded explanations, as appropriate to the learning, to further enhance support to students. If at all in doubt, or if you are struggling with the underlying ideas, you should email your teacher who can give you guidance as soon as they are able.

Most of the online platforms we have been using as a school for some time now; SMHW, SENECA, GCSEpod, etc. the students, where age appropriate, have been shown how to use them on a number of occasions in school. However, back on the home page of Home Learning we have direct links to the sites which have lots of guidance around accessing and getting the best out of them.

For periods of home learning, you can contact teachers for support or the main school email address to ask about anything you need to get fully set up; enquiries@bostongrammarschool.co.uk

If you are worried or anxious about anything, please always feel free to contact your Head of Year via email.

For periods of home learning, Tutors will contact their tutees as often as they can, via email, to check how they are getting on. However, if you would prefer to talk to someone then please contact the main reception so that we can direct you to one of our Pastoral Support Team / Counsellors who will also be able to advise you on where to seek external support should it be required.

Accessing Teams via a console simply uses the device as you would any other computer. Open an internet browser and search for the 'Office log in' page then continue as normal.

The following video will help parents to get set up. There are many other online tutorials and videos available via an internet search for 'how to use my Xbox/PlayStation to access Microsoft Teams'.

Online work is available for all students in all lessons via SMHW. Students can start learning straight away by accessing the flexible tasks that are set for all subjects and year groups every week of the academic year. Teams lessons start as quickly as possible and at the latest by the following day. This work follows the same curriculum knowledge but is sometimes structured differently to make it more accessible to undertake as self supported study. The school uses this approach as it also supports; individual students who are self isolating, any student having difficulty accessing Teams in the short term, any student who is unable to attend school for whatever reason at any point in the year stay up to date with their curriculum learning. This is a consistent part of the school's offer and will continue to be made available long after we return to 'normal schooling'.

All students, learning remotely, cover the same knowledge content, wherever possible. The activities can differ but only to reflect the nature of online learning. Perhaps the biggest difference is in core PE, where the focus is around healthy active lifestyles. Fitness challenges and tasks will be set weekly on SMHW for students to engage in Year 7, 8 and 9. Certain theoretical aspects of the course will still be delivered through these challenges and tasks reflecting the curriculum intent. At GCSE and A-Level the curriculum will continue as normal with online lessons.

The school provides learning in line with what students might be expected to undertake during 'normal' schooling, including homework. Some homework tasks are more open ended to enable families to be flexible with their day and make decisions together about what is best for their child's day to day experience and mental health. The figure below is an approximate guide to the expected daily work a student should undertake including self managed study:

KS3 six hours a day
KS4 seven hours a day
KS5 seven hours a day

Within Microsoft 365 the school uses a variety of tools but the main three are Teams, SharePoint and Email.
Teams is the tool we use to deliver live on line lessons where teachers screen share, explain, run Q&A, give verbal feedback, etc. This is the main vehicle staff use to 'teach' during any period of classes being absent from school. Staff are online for a minimum of 30 minutes each lesson. ​

SharePoint is mainly used as a resource drop and each year group has a space where staff make all resources for learning available. Students also have their own spaces to save their own work etc.
The use of school email is an occasional tool. It is used by staff to send reminders, updates, bespoke feedback, etc. It is also used by some subjects as a tool for work collection from students.

SMHW is the online platform we have used to post homework over a number of years. It is the main portal for setting any task not covered in a Microsoft Teams lesson. From there, each lesson's instructions, as well as additional learning activities and notices, are available. Some subjects use other online platforms such as EverLearner, SENECA, GCSEpod, Oak Academy, BBC Bitesize, etc. but direction to the appropriate site and resource is shared to the student via SMHW. SMHW is also a work collection tool and used by some subjects for low stakes quizzing.

Access to the main learning sites we use can be found in 'Student Learning Sites'. A shortcut to the page is in the orange 'Links' box on the right hand side of this page.

The school has provided over 100 laptops/chromebooks to students who have needed them. It has also provided internet access points.

Where students are struggling to work remotely they can contact reception by phone or the school via the enquiries email. Where the request is granted the school then preps a chromebook/internet device and contacts home, usually via phone. Parents are invited in to collect the device/s and need to sign a 'loan agreement' before they can take the device/s home. Where parents are unable to get to school within normal opening hours the school makes alternative arrangements including home delivery.

Where we are unable to resolve issues with online learning the school finds the next best solution e.g. attending school.

Predominantly via 'live' on line lessons through Teams. Also through recorded teaching, resources, guidance and tasks on the platforms described above e.g. SMHW.

Students are expected to engage with all Teams lessons, where they are able. Students are expected to complete all tasks set on SMHW. Flexible learning (also on SMHW) should be completed where students do not have access to Teams lessons.

Parents are not expected to teach or monitor their child's school learning any more than they would do normally. Parents are already teachers of their children, they explain the world, teach morals, expand horizons and much, much more. We know parents have their own responsibilities and daily tasks that they have to complete to enable their families to function. However, we welcome parental engagement with the process e.g. quizzing, and at times we may ask some parents for further support in engaging their child with the learning.

More generally it is the obvious things that probably don't need stating that the school needs help with. Keeping students in routines, providing them with the best space possible to learn, keeping expectations of them to do family activities to a minimum during school hours, supporting them ask for help when they are unsure, contacting school where they have concerns e.g. mental health, talking to them positively about their learning.

We also welcome feedback, including positive, about how learning is going or how we can support you further. Please check our contact page to identify the most appropriate person.

Attendance registers are taken of all Teams lessons. Live lessons are routinely punctuated with Q&A or expected student response, to ensure students focus on learning. Staff continue to set work and collect work that is checked and appropriate feedback given by that whole class feedback or individual. Please remember that not all feedback is written and not every piece of work receives a grade.

Where students seemingly fail to attend live lessons the school will call parents the same day and check if this is accurate. In most cases there is a plausible reason for students being missed on an attendance register. Where it is an issue, school works with families to find an appropriate solution which may include inviting the student in to work at school or arranging a home visit.

In terms of completion of work, staff follow normal routines of agreeing extensions, where appropriate, or contacting home. This is normally done by the individual teacher or by the Head of Year.

The school also conducts phone call welfare checks with parents every fortnight to discuss any issues and continues to run tutor sessions every morning which include welfare talks with the students. Where concerns, above a simple nature are raised, the school increases welfare chats as appropriate to the need.

Students are typically asked to either bring evidence of home learning in to school for submission during lessons or via an online avenue such as SMHW or email. It will always be clear as to exactly what should be submitted and how the teacher expects to receive it. Feedback will be provided by teachers to inform students about how their work has met expectations and what their next steps should be to make further progress.

For periods of home learning, subjects will check learning through a number of different avenues such as quizzing, online platforms, getting students to email work in or saving work into a folder on 365. During periods of partial or full school closure, student progress will be checked at least once per half term for KS3 students and twice a half term for KS4&5 students in an appropriate assessment, similar to in normal school, with developmental feedback in a timely manner.

Teachers continually assess student's learning through AfL during Teams lessons, similar to in school lessons. Teachers continue to follow the school's marking and feedback policy. Subjects run lots of low stakes quizzing to check student's understanding but also use Q&A, task feedback and more formal type assessments. All this understanding of student progress leads to termly holistic grading which is shared with families as an 'Attainment Grade'.

Students with SEND are having weekly welfare check phone calls as we know how important communication is at this time. Direct contact links with the SENDCO have been promoted and we actively encourage parents to use this if they feel they or their child needs some support.

All students have been contacted with additional links of ways they are able to support themselves through utilising available resources such as readers, reading materials and ways to dictate answers. All staff have been given additional guidance on how to practically support students with SEND whilst home learning.

Alongside this, additional support lessons are offered for those who need it. To ensure all students have equal access SEND students along with our disadvantaged have been prioritised to ensure they have a device to access the online lessons and resources.

As described in previous FAQs, students have access to the same curriculum knowledge and similar tasks via 'flexible learning' on SMHW. They can contact individual teachers for additional support via email and the school will conduct welfare checks.

Where students are too unwell to complete the learning individual teachers will support learning recovery when appropriate.

How to use Microsoft Teams

Support for using digital platforms

Microsoft Teams: Teams Student Guide BGS

GCSE Pod: »How to support your child using GCSEPod

Office365 & SharePoint: »O365, SharePoint & Outlook

Show My Homework: »SMHW Parent Help

Seneca: »What is Seneca?

Additional External Links

MIND - support for mental wellbeing - »Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Oak Academy - online lessons promoted by the DFE. https://www.thenational.academy/

Pearson – support for parents and students across all key stages including free access to text books. https://www.pearson.com/uk/learners/secondary-students-and-parents.html

The Open University – ideal for students bridging the gap between GCSE and A-level or A-level and degree courses. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses/full-catalogue

Audible - Free audio books including all the GCSE literacy Classics. https://stories.audible.com/discovery

TED-ED – high-quality, interactive, video based lessons daily. ed.ted.com/daily_newsletter

Khan Academy – range of interactive resources based on American key stages but lots of useful and engaging content. https://www.khanacademy.org/

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