Term One 2021 Review Summary
Many reviewers commented that their policy was out of date or not consistent with current practice. We remind schools to check their topics before they are reviewed – this a very important part of keeping your policies and procedures up to date. Ask yourself, “Are we doing what we say we’re doing?” Remember, Home Learning is a fully tailorable policy and should reflect your school’s values and practices.
Home learning took on a whole new meaning for schools, students, and families as the country faced many new challenges with an extended Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Auckland schools continued to face these challenges this year and many reviewers commented on this in our Home Learning policy review in term one this year. There was quite a bit of confusion about whether this policy was intended to cover learning at home during lockdown – it wasn’t.
As a result of our experiences over the past year, SchoolDocs has created a new sample policy for schools called Distance Learning. Generally speaking, most school policies and procedures will still apply while students are learning from home. Other topics that are particularly relevant include Delivering Online Learning (covers professional standards), Behaviour Management, Curriculum and Student Achievement Policy, Privacy, and COVID-19 Information.
What parents said
It wasn’t a surprise that parents were split on whether home learning is a good thing or not. Many love the idea of a “no set formal home learning” policy. Many noted that their children enjoy home learning. And many thought it was important for their children to have some home learning to prepare them for intermediate or high school (e.g. developing self-discipline and time management skills).
Unfortunately, some parents were not aware of the school’s home learning policy.
For those parents who would like their children to have home learning, key points included wanting:
- relevant work, not busy work
- a balance between home learning that requires using a device and home learning that doesn’t
- clear and ongoing communication about home learning expectations and tasks from the school and teachers
- device use to be meaningful and not just a time filler
- a policy that reflects their child’s stage of learning (is appropriate to their year level)
- a heads-up about what’s happening at school, not just the social media pics after the fact
- more information about their children’s home learning so they can better support their children (can’t rely on children passing this info on)
- support to use tools effectively e.g. Google Classroom etc.
As a result of parent feedback, we have:
- changed our wording to “take responsibility for their own home learning as appropriate to their year level”, acknowledging that young children can’t be expected to be responsible for their own home learning
- added wording about parents supporting their children to the sample secondary topic.
What teachers said
In general, teachers:
- need to be aware of what the school’s home learning policy says
- have limited time to check/review/mark home learning
- need to ensure students have the resources at home required to complete any tasks set (digital and other)
- commented that it’s difficult to manage parents’ differing expectations and preferences.
What schools might like to consider
Questions emerging from review feedback:
- Is your policy up to date? Many schools have tailored content here, which may not reflect current practice.
- Is your home learning policy consistent with your school philosophy/values and does it reflect the views of your school community? Is there a special character statement you’d like to include in relation to home learning?
- Have you got the right level of detail in your policy? You might like to keep your policy higher-level and provide more detailed information on your school website (we can link to this from your policy).
- When and how do you communicate home learning expectations to parents? Parents expressed confusion and frustration when home learning differs within and across year levels and this is not communicated clearly.
- If you don’t allow parents on school grounds (without signing in/making an appointment etc), have you considered how this impacts on parents being able to catch up with teachers informally?
The review process
- A lot of parents provided review feedback – have you checked your school’s feedback? Contact SchoolDocs if you’re not sure how to do this.
- If you asked for content changes via the review tool, please email us directly about this. The review process is to help us make improvements to our generic content, not make school-specific updates.
- This term, schools (board, staff, and parents) are reviewing Reporting to Parents on Student Progress and Achievement, which is fully tailorable. One school mentioned that they hold a parent meeting about home learning at the beginning of the year, which is also relevant to this topic. We look forward to reading all the feedback from this review!