There has been much written about the benefit of prep/homework. Like most things in education, opinion tends to be polarised; there are those who passionately support the idea of children having prep to support their learning and there are just as many who would gladly see it disappear from the curriculum. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. However, I am convinced that prep must be meaningful, purposeful and useful. It should also enhance their learning, and this is the trickier bit to get right, not just doing more of what they have covered in lessons but extending their learning and interest, and giving them greater choice.
At Knighton we took a good look at our prep provision last year and how it was set across the school and took the view that although it served a purpose (of sorts), it could be improved. So this term we’ve made a few changes which we think will make prep a more positive learning experience. In addition, we have built-in some ‘down time’ (when they would have been doing prep previously) to give the girls the chance to relax, reflect and gather themselves for the next day. This last point is an important one; a Knighton day, like most prep schools, is busy, long and demanding one. The girls need to have some time when they are not flat out but are able instead to simply ‘down tools’ and relax.
Aside from a new and re-vamped prep timetable, the girls have been given a prep folder which they have to take responsibility for ensuring they organise their preps including gathering ongoing tasks so she will never run out of things to do – thus not being able to say, “I have no prep to do tonight”! – such as a list of ‘spare time’ tasks such as spellings, science words/definitions, times tables, global locations, history dates, languages’ vocab and so on. We still believe there is nothing wrong with some rote learning from time to time.
What else is different?
On Tuesdays the older girls have a prep ‘takeaway’ designed to give the girls more choice and responsibility for their learning. The menu allows them to choose different ways to show what they have learnt in any subject with different levels of challenge. To ensure they do not choose the same activity/subject each time there are some restrictions which prompt the girls to choose from a different ‘course’ (starter/main/dessert) and level of challenge each week. There is no prep set on a Wednesday but a suggestion or reading, playing games of simply having family time – the same goes if the girls are part of our boarding family. On Mondays and Thursdays prep is set in the core and humanities subjects on rotation, and on Fridays VR/NVR and languages are covered.
Early days but so far feedback from the girls and parents has been very positive.
— Written by Mr Robin Gainher, Headmaster —