Private Study and Homework at  A & AS Level

Sixth Form students must become autonomous – or independent – learners who can manage their time, solve problems, demonstrate higher order thinking skills and meet new challenges.  This absolutely crucial, not only for Advanced Level study, but in order to make the transition to Higher Education or the world of employment.

The demands of Advanced Level Study

A Level courses are extremely intensive and students can not expect to fulfil their potential without devoting a considerable number of hours each week to private study and homework. Sixth Form students are given the responsibility for organising and managing their own time so that all work deadlines are met and they are expected to develop strong independent work and study skills.

When students register and sign the contract for their A Level courses in The Polesworth School Sixth Form @Tomlinson Hall, they accept our private study and homework policy.

As a rough guide, every hour spent in the classroom should be matched by another hour spent in private study.

Private study time and homework tasks encourage students to develop good independent work and study practices, reinforce knowledge and skills learned in class, enable teachers to assess a student’s progress and identify possible areas for improvement and give students the opportunity to read more widely around their subjects and pursue their own academic interests. Students are also expected to use homework and study time to complete the action points arising from staff marking and feedback on their work.

Coursework: Some subjects, particularly vocational subjects, require students to complete coursework assignments or portfolios which form part or all of the final grades awarded. In order to access the higher grades, students must spend many hours researching, planning, developing and producing their coursework. This is what makes advanced level coursework very different from that done at GCSE or Level 2.

For those students who intend to move on to Higher Education, developing good independent working habits and research skills in the Sixth Form are a must. Students will not gain the top A Level grades without putting in the hours at home or in private study in school during the day, reading around their subjects, making notes and extending their thinking. Potential university students need to demonstrate these skills and schools are asked to comment on a student’s independent work and study skills in the academic reference.

Examinations in both Years 12 and 13 take place at the end of the year in May, June and July. There is a real squeeze on teaching time and if students do not work on their own, then they will not cover course requirements in sufficient depth or detail to secure the higher grades which are designed to stretch and challenge students.

What can I expect?

Taking a subject at Level 3 in the Sixth Form involves 10 hours a fortnight of designated curriculum time; this includes 1 hour of timetabled independent study time per subject. During lessons teachers will cover the required examination syllabus content and will set homework and extension tasks on a regular basis over and above this allocation of time. Sometimes teachers will arrange extra after-school lessons or revision classes or lunch-time workshops to ensure that students are fully prepared for examinations and students should take full advantage of these.

Assignments and tasks set for homework in Years 12 and 13 will be many and varied. Not all will be written tasks; not all will be formally marked. Students must realise that non-written assignments are just as essential and valuable to good learning progress as a piece of writing set to be handed in on a particular date and marked! Wider reading and note-making are crucial and in some subjects there will be a heavy essay commitment. If students fail to complete homework, then they are jeopardising their own chances of examination success.

The types of tasks that students can routinely expect to undertake will include:

  • Essays
  • Notes
  • Observations
  • Calculations
  • Wider reading
  • Experiments
  • Research
  • Revision
  • Preparation for debate/discussion/the next lesson
  • Planning a presentation
  • Preparing Powerpoint presentations
  • Working on a part of the syllabus to teach or feed back to the rest of the class
  • Preparing resources
  • Thinking
  • Artwork
  • Reports
  • Recordings
  • Mini productions/performances/video clips
  • Short answer questions
  • Extended coursework assignments
  • Practical work
  • Case studies
  • Data analysis and response
  • Past exam paper practice
  • Textbook exercises
  • Completing action points arising from marking, feedback, assessments or examinations.

There is no set homework timetable in the Sixth Form as students need to become more flexible in their work and study routines. Teachers generally, but not always, give a week or sometimes more for the completion of tasks which means that students must plan and manage their time sensibly. However, it must be accepted that at certain times of the year there may be considerable pressure on students, especially if they take a number of subjects that demand coursework.

Students are expected to use their non-contact periods each fortnight to meet the requirements for their particular year as outlined below.

Wider reading is absolutely crucial.

There should never be an occasion when a student says that all his/her work is done! Reading around your subject increases your understanding and both broadens and deepens your knowledge and understanding which often generates a particular interest in a subject which in turn increases motivation. For those students planning on going to university, especially one of the top universities, and/or who will be applying for the most popular subjects, then wider reading is crucial because universities expect it and will want you to write in some depth about your subject interests on the application form. Finally, for those students aiming for the highest A Level grades, then they will have to work independently and read widely – it can’t all be covered in class!



Students in Year 12 take 4 subjects and therefore have 10 non-contact periods per fortnight.

  • Year 12 students should expect about 4 hours homework per subject per week, although some practical subjects may have slightly different demands.
  • Students have 10 non-contact hours per fortnight in order to meet the study and homework demands of A Level and should expect to devote at least 2 non-contact periods per fortnight to each subject area.
  • When teachers set homework/independent study assignments/planning tasks/reading etc. they take into account the fact that students have private study time in school.

Using Non-Contact Time

The Sixth Form areas can become very crowded but there are always places where students can go to study and we now have both a designated Sixth Form Study Centre and an additional study area – the Bond Study Room.  Some departments also have their own work spaces where students may work and where staff are often available for guidance and help at these times.

Please note the following:

  • The Sixth Form Study Centre is a designated ‘quiet zone’. Eating and drinking (except for bottled water) in the Study Centre are not allowed. While students may use the Study Centre at break and lunch times, food must not be consumed there.
  • The Bond Study Room is a second study area.
  • Steventon can also be used for study purposes when not being used for teaching.
  • The main school’s Study Centre in Editha may also be used by Sixth Form students.

Sixth Form students are given the privilege of taking study time at home BUT students must recognise that if they do so, then their time must be used constructively. If students fail to complete homework/private study tasks, then the privilege of home study leave will be withdrawn. Staff may also direct students to use particular study periods for the completion of their work and in these cases, students must stay on site.

Please remember that the school day is from 8.30am until 3.00pm and that there is no automatic right to arrive late or go home early. If a member of staff requires a student to attend an extra session or complete work, students can not present the excuse of having a study period.

If students need extra help from staff or extra workshop/revision/guidance sessions are offered, then students are expected to be flexible in their working arrangements and be in school as and when appropriate. In the build up to examinations some departments and some staff put on revision and study sessions during the holidays. Again, students should make time to attend such extra sessions wherever possible.

There is no excuse for not completing homework or private study assignments.

Consistent failure to meet deadlines or complete assignments satisfactorily will lead to a student being asked to consider alternative Post-16 options.

Part-time employment

Students should bear in mind their study commitments when arranging part-time working hours. Students have registered with us on full-time courses and must be prepared to meet all subject expectations including homework and study time commitments. Part-time work can not be undertaken during the school day.


Finally, as homework is an integral part of courses at AS and full A Level, students must ensure that any homework set by teachers whilst a student is absent must be completed as soon as possible after a student’s return to school. It is the student’s responsibility to find out what work has been missed.