Bourne Primary School


Homework at Bourne

We expect all families to support and engage with our homework.

There are several types of homework at Bourne:


Every child in Years 1 to 6 is given their own homework book. They are allowed to cover this neatly with wrapping or other paper, to protect it, and to make it individual – as long as it is neat and tidy! The books are slightly larger than A4 paper, and have a variety of coloured pages. We want each week’s homework to cover no more than a double page in these books.

Mindcraft challenges are set every week, and the children have until the following week to respond to a single, open ended question. Each week, the question will be about different subjects and topics that the children are studying at school, depending on how the class teachers feel the children can most usefully spend their time learning in that particular week.

Every week, before the next homework is set, all the children share their work with their classmates. The teacher also uses this time to mark some of the homework books in detail. During the other weeks, the children will receive feedback from their classmates, and their work will be stamped by the teacher. One child in each class will be chosen to be a homework star each week.

The key principles for this homework are:

  • The children can spread the time they devote to this homework over a week, taking into account other commitments such as swimming, football, cubs, brownies, etc. This encourages their self-management skills
  • The children can respond in a way that best suits their own individual strengths – some may draw pictures or charts, while others may write stories, newspaper reports, poems, etc. Others may make use of the internet, while some might prefer to interview someone they know. This supports their growth as creative thinkers.
  • The questions set by the teachers are deliberately broad. We are not looking for right or wrong answers, but for individual learning and interests. In this way, the children are enabled to improve their confidence as independent learners.
  • By looking at each other’s work each week, the children develop a wider range of ideas of ways they could tackle future homework. They will also be able to share what they have learnt with their classmates. This is a great way to develop collaborative learners who learn from, rather than compete with, each other.
  • Looking at each other’s work will also help the children to reflect upon their learning, and on the effort they have made when responding to the question. By developing Bourne children as reflective learners, we are helping them to become better at evaluating their successes and identifying ways to improve.
  • By engaging with this homework, the children become effective participants in a whole-school approach to learning. They are free to ‘think outside the box’, and to consider their learning from different viewpoints, as well as using their individual skills and abilities to decide how they will present what they have learned.

The Bourne Maths Challenge

Knowing your tables is a necessary skill that is the basis for a great deal of learning in maths. We are keen for every child to know their tables up to 12 x 12, forwards, backwards and inside out. In 2020 it will be mandatory for Year 4 pupils to sit a Multiplication Tables Check - please click here for further information.

At Bourne, when we think they are ready, we test the children on their number bonds and times tables. The tables are grouped into grades and the children have to answer all the questions correctly in a limited time in order to pass each grade. The questions require the children to know their tables extremely well, and they rely on rapid recall of their number facts in order to answer all the questions in the time given. We also include division questions, as this is the inverse of multiplication, and is a very important part of learning tables successfully. Success at each grade earns the children a certificate.

The Starter grades all take three minutes. All of the main grades (Grade 1 to 12 and the Advanced grade) have twenty questions and take two minutes. The children have to get all the answers right in a test to pass that grade.

How can parents help?

  • Practise the tables with your child, particularly at the grade that they are aiming for next.
  • Use practical ideas such as counting objects as much as possible, especially with the starter grades.
  • Reciting tables by rote (often called “chanting the tables”) is useful, as is mixing the questions up to make sure they are not always straightforward.
  • Look for safe and appropriate websites where you can download times tables games, songs and activities
  • Try to ask as many division questions as multiplication questions, particularly when that is the focus of the next grade.
  • Try to find uses for the tables in real life – for example how many slices of toast at breakfast if everyone in the family has two?
  • Maths Rockx is an app available on different platforms

If it is fun, they will learn their tables more quickly.

  • Please do not pressure your child – or their teacher – about these tests. We want them to be a fun and exciting incentive, to help them learn these important basics. They are not in competition with each other, only with themselves!

Learning Key Words

Along with learning their phonics, the children will also learn to recognise ‘key words’ which they will soon be able to read on sight, and then to spell securely. These key words are important for two reasons:

  • Firstly, they make up 70 – 75% of all the words in the books the children will read
  • Secondly, many of these words do not follow phonic rules. It is much easier to learn them off by heart.

Reading at Bourne

We want every child to read for about ten minutes every night. For the younger children, this will mean reading to an adult or an older brother or sister, who can understand how well they are reading and help them with any tricky words. Once they are fluent readers, they will not need to read directly to adults as often, but we would encourage them to discuss what they have read, to explore their thoughts and reactions, and to start developing their own preferences.

Every ten times your child reads they will earn a book ticket. To ensure this happens, as a parent/carer, you must listen to your child read and then sign their reading record. Every Monday, in assembly, the names of children who have earned a ticket are read out to the whole school, and the tickets are placed in the Reading Box.

Each week a ticket will be drawn from the Year 5 and 6 box, one from the Year 3 and 4 box, and one from the Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 box. Each of the tickets picked will win a small prize. At the end of each term another ticket is drawn for a more community prize. The class with the most reading tokens each week (as long as there is more than 15) wins an extra turn on the climbing frame.

We are hoping that this will not only help to develop children’s reading but also encourage the enjoyment of reading.

Spellings at Bourne

We have looked at a LOT of research that shows that testing spellings once a week really doesn’t work – the spellings are soon forgotten! We teach the children at Bourne about spelling rules and patterns, and we send these home to you to look at with them. There is, however, no test. We will check their understanding by looking at the way these words are spelled in the children’s writing. We use a programme called ‘No Nonsense Spelling’.

If you would like more information on how to help your child, please see this page.