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Message from Head of Secondary

21 October 2016

A lot is written about homework, and you have probably read some of the comments for or against giving young people homework in the media. As both a parent and as an educator the motivation behind such articles intrigues me, but I have not read one yet that convinces me that we are on the wrong track at BISB with our homework policy. You can find details of it in the Secondary Parent Handbook, on Page 13.

All students in Year 7 to 11 were given a homework timetable at the beginning of the school year, and this is designed to get them into regular study habits in support of what they do in the classroom. Our homework timetables are an indication to a student of the day a homework assignment should be completed, and is usually on the same day they have been in class for that subject also. Students also received a Student Planner where they record the details of the homework, including the date that it is due to be handed in to the teacher. Form tutors monitor homework in the planner, and we ask parents to do this also at home.

  • paul

Students in Year 12 and 13 do not have a homework timetable because of the nature of the IB Diploma Programme. Here, students are expected to manage their time more effectively, and plan assignments with the help of a calendar of major assessments throughout the school year.

Whatever the age of your child, an interest in homework is not only natural, but also a great help to your child at the same time. While you probably do many things to support your child at home, if your experience and expectations of homework are different to ours at BISB, then you may at times question what we do. If that is the case, then here are a few tips to help you support your child with homework at home:

  • Provide a quiet environment for working – avoid distractions
  • Have a regular homework routine to avoid rushing, or missing an assignment deadline
  • Praise effort and achievement – positive comments are so helpful
  • Show an interest – make time on a daily basis to talk about the school
  • Provide the necessary equipment
  • Set a good example by letting your child see you reading and writing
  • Monitor the homework in an appropriate way (this depends a lot on the age of your child and how well they can work independently)

Having problems with homework? First determine the problem. Is it because:

  • the homework can regularly be too hard or too easy
  • your child refuses to do assignments despite encouragement
  • your child has problems completing assignments on time
  • you would like your child to do homework missed through illness
  • neither your child nor you understand the homework
  • your child is taking too much or too little time on homework
  • there may be too much work on some nights and too little on others
  • your child is becoming distressed over homework

Whatever the cause, you need to contact us so that we can start to help you and your child. If the problem is specific to one subject, then you should contact the teacher of the class. If the problem is general, and may apply to several subjects, then you should contact the form tutor. Remember, you do not need to wait until a parent conference to come and see us. We’re here to help.

Reports & Parent drop-ins

The first grade reports for our IB Diploma students in Years 12 and 13 will be sent home on Friday of this week. For both groups of students, this is an opportunity to review progress so far this year. Year12 students have just embarked on the IB Diploma journey and the report will reveal how well they are managing their studies in the new school year. Year 13 students will be able to see how their progress towards the examinations in May next year are progressing. Individual conversations with students will follow these reports next week, and in some cases conversations with parents will also be necessary. There is also the excellent opportunity for parents to talk with teachers next week at our end of month parent drop-in conferences.

Parent drop-ins will take place next week, on Thursday 27th October, between 15:00pm and 16:30pm. Parents for all Year groups (7 to 13), are welcome to come and visit with any of their child’s teachers for brief 5-10 minute conversations about progress to date. Could I please ask parents to limit themselves to this amount of time? Partly because longer conversations will mean that you would not be able to see many teachers, and also partly to be fair to other parents who would like to speak with the same teacher. If you and the teacher feel that your conversation will take longer than this, then please make arrangements between you to make an appointment on another day to discuss your child.

A full assessment and reporting calendar for the year is in the Parent Handbook, on page 29.

Parent feedback

In the last newsletter I commented that the students were looking very nice in their school uniform. It was rather embarrassing, therefore, to receive a comment that our publications are not representative of our students’ efforts, and that several photographs that we have used do not illustrate the standard of dress that we expect at BISB. Steps are being taken to address this, so look out for updates in our publications in the future. And thank you for the feedback.

Parent forums

You will see on the calendar that we have parent forums after the half-term break. For those of you who are new to the school, these meetings are an opportunity for you to address questions to me and the leadership team about aspects of secondary school life. If you have a specific question, then you need to submit these in advance of the meeting. The Year 7-9 forum will take place on Thursday 10th November, and the Year 10-13 forum on Friday 11th November. More details to follow shortly.

Have a great weekend.

Paul Harrison
Head of Secondary