Independent Studies

Rationale

The rationale behind Independent Studies is to reinstate the Academy belief that learning outside of the classroom is an essential part of an outstanding education.

Independent Studies is an essential part of the learning cycle and provides students with opportunities to embed and consolidate in-class learning within their own personal and independent context.

We understand that a successful student is one that has engages fully in the opportunities presented. Our policy seeks in embed independent studies as such an opportunity, to be enjoyed alongside extracurricular activities.

A policy plays a part in our mission to transform learning and transform lives.

Benefits

Independent studies;

  • Enhances student performance.
  • Provide students with effective study and revision skills.
  • Promote further engagement in the subject.
  • Develop research skills.
  • Allow the student to interact with resources not utilised in the classroom.
  • Instil a sense of independence and resilience to tackle activities alone.
  • To embed content that has been introduced in class.
  • To allow time to complete any GAP activities from lessons that may need extra concentration or attempts.
  • To enable parents and guardians to become engaged in a dialogue and possible supportive role within the academic progress of their child.
  • Foster cooperation to ensure student success.

 

Policy

Subjects should ask students to engage in independent study tasks that are approximately 30 minutes long.

Tasks should not be onerous and should seek to ‘extend’ students’ learning. The purpose of independent studies is to enrich the learning experience rather than supplant it. Additionally, not all independent learning should be completed outside the classroom and where relevant, learning can be completed inside the classroom.

Year 7-8 will receive up to thirty minutes per week per subject. This equates to thirty minutes each day.

Year 9-10 students will receive approximately independent study tasks of approximately 30 minutes in length. Students will be allocated one task per subject.

Year 11 in their final year of study will receive up to forty minutes per week per subject.

Where possible, peer/self marking should be employed within the learning process to develop an understanding of how marks are awarded.

Independent study timetables have been created for each year group.

These can be viewed here.

Incentives and Sanctions

Whilst the Academy believes that the reward of completing Independent Studies is about developing a confidence and progression throughout subjects, we do appreciate the need for SMART goals and incentives.

The logging of Independent Studies will count towards the Academy-wide credit scheme; one credit will be rewarded for the completion of the Independent Studies activity and two will be rewarded for an outstanding effort.

For students who do not complete Independent Studies the Academy will implement Restorative Practice sessions each day so that the student has the opportunity to access additional support and time needed from staff to complete any studies that have not been completed during the previous weeks. In addition to this, and as support rather as a sanction, the LRC will be open each day after school until 5pm. This time will be led by our Post 16 students as part of their IB course and will offer support to those students who may need guidance or a suitable place to work.

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the student

  1. To bring planners to school every day.
  2. To carry a copy of the Independent Studies timetable in their planners.
  3. Each week, copy subjects into their planner for the week to facilitate and aid recording of tasks.
  4. To record Independent Studies activities into planners (including deadline and expectations).
  5. To ensure that Independent Studies Activities are completed by the date requested.
  6. To inform the class teachers of any difficulties in completing or comprehending the activity within 48 hours of the activity being set.
  7. To show planner each day to parents/guardians to allow parents to assist with the planning and completion of coursework and respond to messages from staff.
  8. To get the Independent Study planner signed each week checking the completion of activities.

The role of the teacher

  1. To set Independent Studies activities according to the whole Academy guidance and under the guidance of the Curriculum Lead of each subject.
  2. To make expectations of completion and dates clear to students.
  3. To monitor and sanction the completion of activities by the date set.
  4. To mark and return activities promptly.
  5. To offer support and guidance as appropriate.

The role of the tutor

  1. To ensure that students bring their planner to school each day, applying sanctions where possible.
  2. That planners are signed on a weekly basis.
  3. To ensure that students write out subjects each week into their planner.
  4. To e-mail subject teachers if students are not recording independent studies.
  5. To give suggestions surrounding time and stress management issues that may arise from the completion of Independent Studies.

The role of the Head of House

  • To ensure that all students are equipped with an independent study planner.
  • To ensure that  when planners are not brought, an alternative way of recording is provided.
  • To run sanctions, in accordance with school policy, if independent study planners are not brought to lessons.
  • Through sampling, ensure that tutors are facilitating the copying of independent study timetables into planners each week.
  • Through sampling, ensure that students are writing tasks in to planners.

The role of the Curriculum Lead

  • To ensure that independent studies activities are planned, extend student learning and are of a high quality.
  • To monitor and improve the quality, quantity and completion of subject based Independent Studies activities set within the department.
  • To provide development and training that will enhance the use and influence of Independent Studies within the Academy.
  • To engage in regular review of the Independent Studies policy to ensure that independent studies is used for the benefit of the student.

The role of the parent or guardian

  1. To provide a quiet place to work (when and where possible).
  2. To support students by monitoring planner and helping the student identify when to complete activities.
  3. To sign the planner and monitor the completion of Independent Studies activities each week.
  4. To alert the Academy of any opportunities or issues surrounding the completion of Independent Studies activities.
  5. To offer support and guidance where possible.

 

Nature of Independent Studies Activities

Whilst the Academy sees this choice as part of its teaching staff’s expertise and judgement, we do suggest that the following principles are considered and outlined as part of each Independent Study:

  1. Purpose: a clear academic purpose, such as checking for understanding, or applying knowledge or skills.
  2. Format: an activity that builds in a way that efficiently demonstrates student learning.
  3. Personalisation: an approach that promotes ownership by offering choices and being personally relevant.
  4. Challenge: an activity that students can successfully complete without assistance.
  5. Engagement: a study that appears enjoyable and interesting, both in content and reward.
  6. Review: students should be heavily involved in the marking of the work so that students gain a holistic understanding of the marking process and relevant success criteria.

When setting ‘revision’ as independent studies, students be given an explicit task, rather than allowing students to ‘revise’ without instruction of guidance.

Independent studies can therefore include;

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK…

Geography – practice exam questions, studies on individual case studies, locations and environments, mini fieldwork tasks.