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Y7 homework- should I do anything?

(40 Posts)
Erebus Fri 22-Jul-11 08:34:24

I appreciate that DS1 is half a week from finishing Y7.

However, I am wondering whether either for the record or to maybe avoid a repeat in Y8- or even to get a valid explanation!- I should write to the Y7 Head of Year to, well, 'complain' about the homework situation.

The school is the highest attaining state Y7-11 comp in the county, academically. It prides itself on not setting except in maths and MFL at this stage- however, I believe it 'sets' via exam course trajectory ie only the clever, 'A*to B'-bound get to do a full Maths GCSE, others do 'Foundation'; or only the clever get to do triple not double science. And it could be seen to be resting a little on its laurels. It is also in a very leafy area, thus might be expected to turn out 'better than average' results.

Thing is, at the start of school, a huge song and dance was made about the importance of homework (and the sanctions imposed if it doesn't get done) esp bearing in mind the way the school have deliberately brought the boys' GCSE results up in line with girls' by constantly setting and monitoring mini-goals, doing little and often.

Theoretically DS could get 15 pieces of homework a week. Initially he was getting around 2 a night though some were 'learn these 2 lines for Drama', or 'find an interesting image that shows...' or 'decorate your history exercise book'! Now we're 'lucky' if we see one piece a week! Really! And that's been the situation since Easter. And when proper homework does come home, I'm back to Y3-style evasion and delay in getting DS to settle down and do it as he's so out of the habit. DS claims to 'do' homework in school (I see what's been set in his Diary) but I think the fact is there's so little he's getting into a bad habit of thinking 'Ah, is that all? -5 minutes work, I'll dash it off on the bus' rather than 'OK, I have 2 pieces, I'll do it as usual at 4pm at home'. DS2 in Y5 gets more to do!

Is there any point at all in writing to the HoY (who will be their Y8 HoY as well) to express my concerns? Or am I wasting my time? Would it be your opinion that they will think 'Look at our stellar GCSE results, we know what we're doing' - or maybe I should wait to see if they up their game in Y8 then write in if the same thing happens?

WWYD?

MindtheGappp Fri 22-Jul-11 08:51:43

I would leave it at this stage in the term.

noblegiraffe Fri 22-Jul-11 09:27:56

Homework tends to dwindle in the last term. The exams are over, the kids are getting hyper about the holidays and the teachers are getting ready for next year. It's going to happen every year.

By the way, 'Foundation' is a full maths GCSE. Maths GCSE is split into two tiers, Foundation and Higher. The highest mark you can get on Foundation is a C, Higher goes up to A*. So the higher ability maths students will sit the higher paper, and the lower ability students foundation. It is about putting students in for the right paper so they're not faced with a load of questions they can't possibly answer. A C on the Foundation paper is worth exactly the same as a C on the Higher paper.

DamselInDisarray Fri 22-Jul-11 09:32:10

You could maybe assume that they do really know what they're doing. I feel bad for teachers who have to put up with irate parents who refuse to accept that they are trained professionals.

Most homework set in schools is to appease parents rather than because it is of enormous value in itself.

Cartoonjane Fri 22-Jul-11 09:41:29

The head at the school I work at says he gets more complaints from parents about lack of homework than anything else. As a teacher I think most homework is set to please parents rather than because of its real value. Schools that are efficient at setting homework (ie the schools that set it regularly) are probably efficient in other areas too which is why they do well.

There are things that are valuable that can be set as homework- learning vocab for MFL for example but most causes more problems than it's worth. For example many in the class won't do homework so the teacher has to either spend time in the lesson chasing that up by setting detentions (therefore not teaching the class) or whatever or ignore it and so even fewer will do it next time.

If you are happy with the school in other ways, personally I wouldn't be too worried about the homework situation. I'm sure that homework that is required will be set when necessary.

seeker Fri 22-Jul-11 09:44:50

Ifd the school gets fab results then why would you wnat to change anything? Just be thankful you ds has time for lots of other things. They must work very hard in school to get 'stellar" results - if it ain't broke, don;t fix it!

goinggetstough Fri 22-Jul-11 09:50:51

Can see that it is often the parents that want the homework, however I think that misses the OPs question. She is not asking for more homework but she is querying the fact that they are not carrying out their own homework policy. Yes, homework dwindles in the last few weeks of term but again the OP said this has been the case since Easter. I think I wouldn't complain exactly but I might write to the HOY and ask what the homework policy will be for yr 8 as the Yr 7 one has varied so much after they stressed the importance of homework!

seeker Fri 22-Jul-11 09:55:00

Just be thankful that the school is being sensible and don;t rock the boat. If you get too many pushy parents complaining the poor brats will be doing 3 hours a night before you know it.

bigTillyMint Fri 22-Jul-11 10:32:51

I have to opposite concern - too much homework in Y7, praying that there will be less in Y8grin

Or maybe it's just down to DD being a swotty Y7 grin

Erebus Fri 22-Jul-11 11:27:35

Thanks for the responses: I think as going has correctly pointed out, my 'gripe' such as it is, is that they make such a song and dance about the importance of doing homework, the value it adds to the DCs education etc etc... yet the school then trash the whole edifice by practically not setting it for the last term! There are few issues of not-done homework at the school (most DCs come from very committed families), but if it's not done the DC's are punished, albeit via 10 minute detentions- it's seen as a disciplinary 'offence'.

The school, on Open Day and so on really push the point that they have discovered the Holy Grail of boy-achievement: little and often, in other words a slow, steady consistent approach to getting things done; yet that can hardly be said of their approach to Y7 homework!

I'd be more than happy if DS's homework was learning MFL vocab, reading a passage they're about to study in English, running through a pre-printed maths worksheet of 10 relevant questions, discovering the meanings of 5 geographical terms etc.

As for the 'fab results', yes, like an OFSTED, fantastic on paper BUT the thing is, one way in which they obtain these results is via, as I already said, only putting DCs forward for the exams they're bound to pass. So for example my DS (who, absolutely fwiw, got a 5 in his KS2 Maths SATS), has just been placed in group 3 of 5 in Maths. He is in danger of being only allowed to take Foundation Maths or double science. I know he is well capable of Higher Maths and Triple science but it may not be in the schools interests to push him forwards into things he might 'fail'. But it's hard to know where he's struggling if we never see any evidence of what he's doing and what level!

Being a typical 'boy', (and despite what you might be thinking, i.e having an hysterical mother grin ), he does what he has to and nary a jot more. So you can see why if 'doing what he has to' included 45 minutes of carefully targeted homework a night, he might ultimately do better.

As it is 2 small doors have closed on him: All of group 1 in Maths (who to be fair contains 3 DCs with Maths 'A' levels, aged 11...) and most of group 2 get to do a Statistics GCSE in Y10. The top 1/3 in MFL get offered a second language, DS hasn't. By his own admission DS agrees he could have done better in his MFL had he learned more vocab. We, of course, due to the lack of seeing his books (no homework!) weren't able over the course of the year to gently but consistently encourage the learning of the vocab. He is also a bit shock as he realises the 'setting by stealth' has already begun.

You may say 'Well, in secondary, it's up to them'. I would see your point but I'd say it'd be unfair to expect an 11 year old boy to be able to self-direct his own learning, especially when the consequences of inability or immaturity have a direct impact on their life choices.

Sorry I'm banging on about this- but as you can see, and you only need to be a denizen of 'Education' in MN for a short while to recognise this- in the state system, you have to be prepared to be a squeaky hinge or at least be prepared to 'advocate' for your DC!

noblegiraffe Fri 22-Jul-11 13:22:43

Why does him not having homework preclude you from seeing his books?

Erebus Fri 22-Jul-11 13:52:35

Because they pretty much stay in his locker at school!

And, to be honest, it appears that nothing in his exercise book actually gets marked, with the exception, ironically, of homework. There may be the odd remark but a fair bit of the 'in-class' work, or evidence of it in an exercise book should I say seems to either be his own jottings or 'peer-reviewed'.

Erebus Fri 22-Jul-11 13:53:47

There's also page after page of printed off matter stuck in the books, sometimes with his own pencilled in additions, but not a solid body of work from which you could deduce what level in a given subject he was working at.

mnistooaddictive Fri 22-Jul-11 14:06:37

There is no reason for a school to enter a student for foundation rather than higher. Of course only the most able get to do triple science- it is an extension activity!
It seems to me that your son us seriously underachieving. You beef to look at why. If he got a level 5 at ks2 then I the only reason for him to be in set 3 and considering foundation is if think he isn't working. Maybe he is getting homework he isnt doing? You have bigger issues and need to find out if he is working in lessons as I have a suspicion he isn't.

CrosswordAddict Fri 22-Jul-11 14:45:05

Erebus You sound articulate and sensible to me from your posts so far.
How about his End of Year Report?
What about talking to other pupils in his year group (or even better their mothers)?
Best of all, get those exercise books, collect them together and take them in to show his Head of Year in September. That's the best time to lay the ground rules for a good year's effort. It's too late at Christmas when you get his end-of=term grades.
He sounds bright but lazy and needs a firm push (that's the polite version)
Various people have said in their posts that Homework is only set to keep parents happy. I think it goes further than that though - the homework might not be valuable in itself but the HABIT OF DOING HOMEWORK is very valuable.
Study habits are what youngsters will need later on for Further Ed and Uni.
Employers don't need people who are "bright but lazy"
Sorry this turned into a rant. It was meant to be helpful advice smile Off to make a brew

Erebus Fri 22-Jul-11 14:47:02

No, I'd know about any homework not being done!

I don't think he's 'seriously underachieving' but I think there are some gaps in his maths basic knowledge, tbh. I recognise that there are some very clever DCs at the school, but even so, he ought to be one group higher in Maths.

No, I don't think he's 'delivering' in lessons to the level he could, but I can't be there checking on him! There are 30 kids sitting in there so I also can't expect the teacher to be on the ball with every nuance of every DC's potential v. achievement! But I could sure weigh in and pick up the 'slack' IF I knew where he was at in the subject!

mnistooaddictive Fri 22-Jul-11 14:51:44

I think a couple of weeks on ' effort report' might help him start y8 with the correct ethic. Year 8 is well known for being a dip in achievement especially with boys so he needs to make sure he doesn't slip further

SecretSquirrels Fri 22-Jul-11 16:30:19

It does sound to me like a school that is working the system expertly to to produce the right statistics. Those very statistics that attract the committed parent. It means decisions are not always based on the individual child's best interest but rather the results rule. IMHO.
Perhaps the EBACC will affect their reluctance to offer separate sciences for all.

Erebus Fri 22-Jul-11 16:40:06

Ah, squirrels- I'd say just about every school in the country with an 'outstanding' OFSTED are definitely working the system but I'd have to be fair to this school and say their 55% EBacc results ie a measure that the schools were unaware of before last year when the government thrust it at them (thus disabling any 'teaching to the test') might indicate that they are doing OK, and the 88% of 5 GCSE passes inc Eng and Maths implies they seem to do OK with most of the DCs, considering it is a proper comp.

But IF DS1 is capable of at least a 'B' in Maths and triple science passes, that's what I want him to do!

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Jul-11 10:00:26

There is no reason for a school to enter a student for foundation rather than higher.

?? Of course there is. If they are a D, E, F grade student, then they will just fail horribly on the higher tier paper, and it certainly won't do their confidence any good to be faced with a 2 hour paper filled with questions they can't answer.

If they are a potential C grade student, then things get more complicated as to whether it is better to sit Foundation or Higher. At my school, they might sit either for any of the three modules (they don't need to be the same for all) depending on which looks like it'll be the one to get them a C grade.

Erebus - it is a bit worrying that you seem to have no idea what level your DS is working at. Wasn't this on his report? Along with effort grades?

If he is capable of achieving a B in maths, he will be entered for the higher paper. There is absolutely no benefit to the school in entering him for foundation and capping his potential grade at a C - this will affect the school's value added. You need to speak to his maths teacher next year and ask them about what sort of grades a set 3 kid would be expected to get at GCSE and whether they think your DS is underachieving. It sounds like you also need to get on your DS's case if he is underachieving and tell him how him underachieving in Y7/8 will affect his GCSEs. And then give him a boot up the arse, and ask the school to monitor his effort closely and report back to you (as someone else suggested, an effort report would be useful).

If he's not underachieving and is working his socks off, then he may just not be a suitable candidate for triple science and higher tier maths and you will then just need to accept that.

magentadreamer Sat 23-Jul-11 11:45:20

What level did they say he was in Maths? You say doors are already closing for him but do they not have any movement in sets? That would worry me more if there wasn't any chance of moving up sets then the lack of homework TBH.

MillyR Sat 23-Jul-11 12:18:15

I am astonished that there are people on here saying there is no point in secondary school homework, and then justifying that by saying that many kids don't bother to do it. If many kids think they can repeatedly get away with not handing in homework, there is a management issue in that school. If DS repeatedly did not hand in homework, he would be in isolation and/or on report. He just would not dare.

It is just another of these threads where people undermine educational experiences involving only parents and kids. How can an extra 1 or 2 hours a day of working on a subject through work that has been set as suitable by the teacher not improve results? How can a child not be learning more either independently or with the one to one support of a parent on homework than they would if they just worked within school hours? And how on earth will they cope with university if they have no experience of working independently outside of a supervised lesson?

mnistooaddictive Sat 23-Jul-11 13:25:12

Milly, I understand what you are saying but research dies not show that lots of homework is productive. this is not anecdotal stuff based on one persons experience but proper research.

mnistooaddictive Sat 23-Jul-11 13:28:19

Giraffe- you misunderstand me. If he is genuinely capable of a c then there is no reason for the school to enter him for foundation- there ya no benefit to them to hold him back. If they enter him for foundation they obviously think he us a risky c which is very surprising if he has a level 5 at ks2. Hence my suggestion he us underachieving and not putting the work in.

twinklypearls Sat 23-Jul-11 13:33:49

I am a teacher and in your situation I would have complained and carried on doing so until there was a change.

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