NPCS Teacher Toolkit

Motivate. Aspire. Transform

The dog ate my homework!

This month's bulletin will focus on two strategies that aim to get all students to complete homework. Both strategies allow students to:

  • Choose what they want to do
  • Understand the importance of doing the homework
  • Have interesting and varied homework
  • Have a sense of challenge and a sense of achievement
  • Be more responsible for their homework

Homework Takeaway by @TeacherToolkit

Before introducing a new scheme of learning, the teacher creates a takeaway menu with with pre-planned tasks for students to select. This could be given to students at the beginning of the unit and they choose what they are going to complete.

@TeacherToolkit's tips for getting started

  • Write a list of 30-50 homework ideas for a key stage, project or year group.
  • Now divide these homeworks into sections. For example; Research; Development; Evaluation.
  • Add in a few seasonal homeworks to complete at Easter, Christmas and over the summer holidays.
  • Decide if you want to place the homeworks in a sequential order using a subject-specific, assessment criteria. Adding success-criteria make remove the exciting aspect of a Takeaway, or add incentives to improve…
  • Add a simple statement describing each homework and what is needed. No more than a sentence.
  • Make sure each-homework can literally be read there and then, and is a ‘Takeaway’. This means, it requires no further guidance.
  • Decide on what method you will use to display this resource. A huge banner? A tombola? Using the interactive whiteboard and a lottery-number selector? Simply laminated and stuck to the wall? As the back of all students’ exercise books?
  • Consider setting one random Takeaway homework once a half-term (as well as regular homework).
  • Consider adding all your Takeaway homework tasks to this online random selector:

Please go to for takeaway templates. The students love the Nando's one!

Unhomework by Mark Creasy

Students set, check and assess the homework so you don’t have to.

The Ground Rules

  • Work can be presented in any format.
  • Work needs to meet a target for improvement, or something they enjoy doing, applied in a new way or to a different subject/ topic.
  • Students set the deadline (there is one so ensure they meet it), but handing in early is only positive if it meets their standard of work.

What Why How? (or Focus, Purpose, Success Criteria)

Establish with the class, that all homework you have set in the past meets these elements (show them with examples) and then ask them to set their own, recording it formally under these headings. By having all Unhomework set, by the children in this way, it is easily referred back to and can be built upon:

  • Focus – what are you doing?
  • Purpose – why are you doing this, how will it support your learning and development?
  • Success Criteria – how will you know you have achieved your target? How will it be measured?

Each aspect is important, but especially the success criteria as this will allow for self, peer and then your assessment to be focused and targeted. Similarly, the triangulated feedback provided by the child, learning partner and the teacher allows for development to the work to be made, rather than a simple ‘tick box’ or ‘completed, move on’ approach.

NPCS Book of the Term

This term's book is Engaging Learners by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns.

Amazon Book Description

At the end of every week many teachers leave school exhausted. In an era when responsibility for exam results lies with them and not their students it's time to redress the balance so that students take more of the responsibility for their learning and progress. Engaging learners in this way unpicks intrinsic motivation, the foundation that underpins a productive learning environment and helps to develop independent learning, creativity and improved behaviour management. Andy and Mark aim to challenge all who teach, from NQTs to seasoned professionals, to reflect on their day-to-day practise and set an agenda for sustainable teacher and leadership improvement. Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners was short listed for Educational Resources best Educational Book Award 2013

Blog of the Term

Marginal Learning Gains by Zoe Elder @fullonlearning on Twitter

Read this inspiring blog to discover some small but powerful ways of improving the quality of teaching and learning in your classrooms.

Do you have any top tips?

Contact NRA to share any strategies you have used with your classes and help to improve teaching and learning at NPCS.

Many thanks to Polly (PYU) for sharing an article on academic language and Abdul (ARA) for sharing his ideas on written feedback.

“I think the only way that we can improve teacher quality is to create a culture of continuous improvement."

Dylan William

Every Teacher Can Improve