I believe independent learning is the key to academic progress, which is why I think regular and regulated homework is so important. It must be regular so children can anticipate what learning they will undertake after school.
This means we need a homework timetable that reflects the learning undertaken across a range of subjects in the school day. And it must be regulated by time rather than task, so they can also have a life outside school.
Our English department has introduced Homework Harry and the languages department has his cousin Devoir Diego.
Harry's picture graces the walls of the English classrooms and corridors and it's glued into the exercise books of all pupils in Years 7 to 11.
Printed on the picture are the seven tasks (six at key stage 4) that pupils are expected to undertake independently if the set homework has been completed, if pupils are absent, or if they have a problem completing the set homework.
Homework Harry also makes clear the English homework timetable for each class and year group and the time allotted to English homework each week (two sessions of 30 minutes in Years 7-9, and two of 45 minutes in Years 10 and 11).
Parents are asked to sign the Homework Harry in their child's exercise book.
Normally, homework is a continuation of classroom work. Homework Harry, however, also encourages pupils to undertake independent reading, writing or research, which will not only improve their English, but develop their habits of independence and self-sufficiency.
He counteracts any temptation to tell parents that no homework has been set or to complete homework in a rush at break-time or on the bus.
Alban O' Brien
Head of English, De La Salle School, St Helens