Teaching & Learning: Pandora’s Prep

This week I am opening Pandora’s Box – I am going to dip my toe into the topic of ‘prep’, ‘homework’, ‘independent study’. Call it what you will. Here at St Peter’s preps build in manageable, small, progressive steps. From Nursery, pupils begin by choosing a storybook to share at home before soon moving on to daily maths and daily Reading Journey work. This progression continues right through the school until they reach Year 8, where pupils do preps completing their Cross Keys log book and CV record.
It aims to build and progress to match the age and development and ability of each cohort. Some individuals may need more or less prep and we arrange this on a 1:1 basis.

We intend prep to do many things:
– To pre-teach a future lesson
– To finish work from a previous lesson
– To consolidate work from a prior piece of learning
– To revise for a topic assessment
– To test understanding and memorisation
– To show reasoning
– To prove mastery
– To capture the skills of curiosity, finding and presenting
(This is in addition to the hidden and constant rehearsal of all their 3R’s core keys of reading, writing and arithmetic).

Preps gradually increase to be around 20-30 minutes of quiet study every weekday evening. As the pupils mature some preps will then go across a weekend. We track and monitor preps that go home and aim for them to be as stimulating and creative as possible. We try to plan preps to model to pupils a healthy work-life balance. Your endless support from home is appreciated hugely; especially with the extended projects and presentations that can demand more of the children.

We admit that we rarely get it right for every child, every time, but we hope the message is clear to our pupils that we want them to be self-motivated and independent in their learning. Prep helps in this. Independent study is such an important part of prep school.

I suppose we could always take this approach of banning prep altogether ????!!!!

The article states:
‘All schools should consider what they want their homework to achieve and seriously ask whether it succeeds.’

I am convinced this is not the right direction here at St Peter’s. Next academic year (2018-2019) a full prep review will be taking place here at St Peter’s. In preparation for the review any feedback is welcome with regard to how you find the preps set right now in its current provision. As usual face to face, email or letter works for me.

You see, we are aiming to see the children doing their preps in their own unique and different ways…and this can be in any way that works for THEM.
Here is a small clip taken in an English lesson observation last week:

Mrs Johnston and Mrs Ball joined forces with a Year 7 English class to share in some Shakespearean text analysis.


This class certainly have some prep to learn – the kids need to know this rhyme to help them structure a persuasive report; with evidence, arguments and counter arguments.

Why can’t our prep look as creative and individual as our lessons? Well, no reason really – hence our review next academic year.

L.Ball, Deputy Head of Teaching & Learning

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