Agony Uncleanswers your questions
As a newly qualified teacher, I am amazed at how much I have to do for students. Nothing in my training prepared me for this spoon-feeding. I worry that I'm doing the work for them. Indeed, they seem to expect that.
Is it the norm now for students simply to fill in the blanks? Attempts by me to train them to think and work independently have so far failed.
Doing students' coursework is clearly against the rules. This issue was recently top of the agenda, and parents were mostly blamed. Plagiarism, mostly from the internet, was also highlighted. But the issue you raise was not discussed. Teaching strategies are at fault here. Coursework is moderated, but the system - however well-intentioned - is open to misuse.
Spoon-feeding is easier than teaching, and is tempting for tired teachers faced with a plethora of learning styles to cater for. You must show your students how you expect them to write coursework. Highlight concrete examples of what you mean, particularly in terms of descriptive and analytical language. (Demonstrations will need to be differentiated.) This will help them understand what good work looks like and can be used as a reference point for you and the students when they begin the coursework proper. Do regular formative assessment on the coursework, and suggest through question and answer, rather than stating where the gaps in the coursework are - again referring to the work you have offered as a guide.