Private Study and Homework

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 teaching time. 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:





Wider reading




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





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!


Year 12 students should expect about 4 hours homework per subject per week, although some practical subjects may have slightly different demands.

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.

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 Level 3, 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.