Kingsmead School in Enfield, is a mixed, multi-cultural, comprehensive school for students aged 11-18. The school is a ‘National Leadership School’ whose senior staff and lead practitioners share expertise and developments in teaching and learning with other schools across the UK. With approximately 1,500 students, Kingsmead strives to maintain a personal and supportive environment, while monitoring welfare and academic progress, to ensure high standards remain at all times.
Kingsmead’s motto is ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’, and this is reinforced through its ethos of high expectation and performance. In order to maintain this level of excellence, the school invested in a number of resources including SAM Learning to aid students’ revision and exam preparation. Three years on, and the resource continues to reap positive feedback, and teachers are expected to use it when setting homework as part of the school’s policy.
Tyla Arabas, Lead Practitioner at Kingsmead, has been managing SAM Learning within the school for over a year now and says that the general feedback from teachers has been positive. “Teachers have been very receptive. They like the fact that it’s very easy to monitor which students have completed their homework. From the beginning, we offered a whole school training session to all staff. We then ran additional sessions for those who were particularly interested, including sessions on how to create your own activities, targeting the more ambitious members of staff who had more advanced ICT skills.”
At the start of every year, the school provides a training session to refresh existing staff, as well as introduce the resource to new teachers. Tyla explains, “All our teachers must be trained on how to use SAM Learning, as we have now made it part of the school policy that every teacher has to set at least one piece of homework for the class, every half term, to ensure that all students are making the most of the resource. So that’s at least six pieces of homework set per teacher using SAM Learning throughout the year.”
Student’s love it
It’s not just the teachers who find SAM Learning useful either; the students can’t get enough of it. Tyla says, “Our Year 7 and 8 students absolutely love it! They rush to the library at break time and lunchtime to get on a computer and complete activities on SAM Learning – they’re very keen! I think the competitive element really appeals to them and means they don’t feel like it’s ‘work’, but something enjoyable and fun.”
Setting online homework is also working well for the students as the completion rate has improved. Despite a handful of students who prefer more traditional, paper-based homework, the general consensus is that online homework has increased students’ willingness to complete tasks. Tyla adds, “What I’ve seen is an increase in students wanting to do their homework and wanting to put in extra work outside of hours.”
For Year 11s, the resource has proved to be invaluable, especially during the run up to exams. Tyla explains that when the Year 11s had their literature exam in November, staff set homework every week using the activities and tasks relating to literature. “We made sure that everyone was accessing it, and if they weren’t, then we were able to text home and let parents know that their children needed to increase their revision.”
“We’ve found that the closer you get to the exams, the more willing students are to use the resource. We saw a huge increase in November when the literature exam took place; there were a lot of students doing extra work and revision in addition to work that was already set, so we saw its use going up dramatically.”
Getting parents involved
Being able to monitor online activities at any point to see which students have completed the homework has meant teachers are able to quickly and efficiently let parents know when a task hasn’t been completed. Tyla explains that when they do let parents know that a student hasn’t completed their homework, a text is sent out and usually it isn’t long before that student is logged in. “I would say that as SAM Learning allows us to monitor homework, it has enabled us to engage with parents more. A simple text is much easier than having to go through records and type everything up.”
Results and outcomes
The school received exceptional literature exam results and Tyla believes that SAM Learning played an instrumental part in this. She concludes, “We’ve had such amazing results, and I do think it’s largely down to the engagement students have had with the online revision and homework resources. It’s certainly helped to improve literature, and I’m sure our teachers would say that this improvement applies across the board!”