Supporting Independent Learning at Bideford College
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The teachers and support staff at Bideford College work incredibly hard to make sure that students consistently experience the very highest quality teaching because this is what will inspire excellent learning and, in turn, allow our students to make outstanding academic progress.
We firmly believe that our students’ learning should not finish when their final lesson of the day ends, and that we can do much more to tap into the potential for young learners to develop what they are doing in the classroom outside of the lessons themselves. However, rather than refer to ‘homework’ we would prefer our students to think of such tasks as Independent Learning (‘IL’), and to recognise that engaging in this positively and routinely will undoubtedly bring significant benefits.
There are three types of Independent Learning we will ask of our students from Year 7 right the way up to Year 13:
- Firstly, there are preparatory tasks that might be set to prepare students for a topic – learning which anticipates content that the teacher will develop and extend. This could, for example, take the form of research, an early design or a piece of preliminary reading
- Secondly, there are tasks which embed learning. Often these might be set before an assessment. This sort of IL will invite students to learn, practise or revise a topic, going back over learning they have done in class
- Thirdly, there are tasks which invite students to extend and develop a piece of work, often responding to feedback from the teacher.
We would expect most subjects to set IL no less than every four lessons, irrespective of how often the teacher meets the class. The IL that is set will vary across these three types, depending upon where students are within a topic or Scheme of Learning.
Whilst this frequency should not change, we would expect the amount required of students to increase as they proceed through the college. Hopefully knowing this will allow students (and their parents / carers) to plan the demands this will put upon students’ time outside of college. To assist with this, all IL set by teachers will be placed on ePlanner – our online system for managing and monitoring Independent Learning.
- In Years 7 and 8 we would expect what is set by a teacher to take approximately 30 minutes
- In Year 9 this should be approximately 45 minutes
- By Years 10 and 11 IL tasks would be expected to take about an hour each
- In the Sixth Form we would expect at least one hour of IL to mirror each hour of formal teaching that students receive
In addition to this, we are also looking at how we can better support parents and carers more generally. On our college website you can now find the overview of our ‘schemes of learning’ for the subjects taught. These will give an indication of the content of each year, as well as making suggestions for wider reading. For our GCSE students you will also find links to a whole series of websites. These will include quick and easy links to the exam boards for each subject and the versions that our students follow. This means you can check the broad content of students’ exams and find the way straight to past papers so that you know what’s ahead and can support them as they move closer to formal exams. There are also links recommended by our staff to take you to sites for extension and revision work too.
Of course, sometimes you might just need to communicate directly with your child’s teacher or tutor. You are always welcome to email the college reception and we will direct your enquiry to the relevant person. We always try to respond to any such enquiries as quickly as possible. The email address for this is firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope that you find this information useful. We would welcome any feedback as to how we can better help you to support your children at Bideford College.
Dr B Butt, Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning)