Independent research in Year 12?

I have been mulling over my various groups’ recent As and A2 results. Bright boys, some are highly motivated, yet the road to a good set of results was something of a struggle in the sense that they seemed very reluctant to really engage in wider reading and research until the Spring – when it became obvious that they were going to have to engage.

So far, my practice has been to constantly remind the boys of the need to widen their reading and to undertake their own research using the journals in the Library and any other material they can find. Homeworks have been set to collate thoughts and ideas shared in class.

I think in Year 12 this is asking too much. The poor souls have just emerged from GCSE, which in anyone’s world can mean listening, copying and mugging up with little real individual input. Are we expecting too much of them to turn into proto-undergraduates in the Summer holiday?

This year I have written two booklets – one for each year, to cope with the new syllabus, in which I outline a timetable for completion of some independent-research-type tasks and suggest others. Much of this document was created by the wonderful Lisa Healy at my old school in Slough, where she is the peerless Head of 6th Form and a new mother to boot. Chapeau to Lisa.

I would welcome feedback and stress that this is the draft version of the booklet. Students will be given this in a folder in September and it will be explained that the independent work is a vital part of their course and is not the same as “homework” – it is part of the extra hours of work expected from all students in all subjects.

In short, there is a deadline at roughly fortnightly intervals at which point one or other of the class teachers will take in the booklet and check that the work is being done. Students are free to do tasks whenever they like, as long as the regular deadline task is hit.

I hope that this rather hands-on approach will bear fruit and that in time the booklet will only be needed in Year 12, as the upper 6th respond to what is needed with rather less prompting.

Who knows?
yr12 independent study log 2015-16

y13 independant study booklet 2015