Homework refers to any work or activities that pupils are asked to do outside lesson time, usually away from school either on their own or with their parents/carers. The purpose of the school homework policy is to serve as a guideline for all school stakeholders.
- School Homework Objectives
- To reinforce skills acquired in class, especially in reading, writing and numeracy.
- To provide better time management and good study habits at home.
- To develop independence, responsibility and self-discipline.
- To serve as a link between teacher and parent.
- To enhance parents’ active involvement in their children’s learning.
- The role of the teacher is to
- Plan homework as a relevant follow-up to reinforce what has been done in class.
- Plan tasks which engage the pupil in the use of various skills.
- Ensure that homework has been explained in class and that pupil feels confident that he/she can do what is requested.
- Provide examples which illustrate method or content requested (depending on the exercise given).
- Nurture teacher-pupil relationship where positive reinforcement becomes the order of the day.
- Correct homework and give feedback to show pupil’s strengths and possibilities for improvements.
- Regularly inform parents about pupil’s development.
- Inform parents/SMT of pupil’s frequently incomplete, badly presented or missing homework.
- The role of the parent/carer is to
- Check pupil’s diary or iLearn daily to ensure that homework is done.
- Create the best environment where children can concentrate.
- Help children with homework time-management.
- Guide their children to overcome difficulties concerning their homework while refraining from giving excessive help.
- Communicate with teacher in case of homework problems.
- Use teaching methods adopted in school so as to complement what is done in class.
- Monitor their children’s homework time-management.
- Use positive reinforcement to motivate children.
- The role of the pupil is to
- Finish homework within the stipulated timeframe.
- Do homework as correctly and neatly as possible.
- Learn from his/her own mistakes.
- Correct/rewrite work if teacher requests it.
- Be responsible for his/her work.
- General guidelines
- At the beginning of the scholastic year, information given to parents/carers should include homework policies and expectations.
- Reading is an integral part of a pupil’s homework; reading should be encouraged on a daily basis and not necessarily confined to school-based resources.
- Where possible an example should be provided for pupils (depending on the objective).
- Homework should be explained by teacher before it is done at home.
- Feedback on the student’s achievements, difficulties and participation should be regularly provided by all
- Homework for Years 1 – 3 should
- Not last more than one hour from after school time.
- Emphasize consolidation, revision and practice of what is done in class, including numeracy, language and writing skills.
- Include collection of items prior to lessons (preparatory given well in advance).
- Include reading as preparation for class discussion (preparatory).
- Include reading a book and writing a review or drawing a picture about the story.
- Induce pupils to find pictures about topics discussed in class.
- Act as consolidation through games, outings and researching information on internet.
- Homework for Years 4 – 6 should
- Not exceed one hour/two hours from after school time
- Include written work to consolidate work in class.
- Lead to the understanding that reading for fun is not limited to any particular time or text.
- Include study time to revise topics done in class.
- Prepare pupils for tests and exams/assessments.
- Enhance preparatory activities that include research, collection of items and pictures, and background reading.
- Sick Pupils
- In case of sickness (contagious conditions), homework will be given to pupils when they return to school.
- Copybooks of sick children are not to be sent to school for correction.
- Pupils absent from school due to illness will have their homework corrected once they are certified as being medically fit to return to school.
- Pupils will be given an extended period to finish missed tasks.
- Homework not presented
- Teacher takes note when homework is not presented without a justified reason, i.e. when pupils do not present a note signed by the parent/carer.
- Homework missed is done in addition to the next homework or under conditions stipulated by the teacher and assistant head.
- After 3 times that a homework is not presented, respective Assistant Heads and the Parents/Carers are informed.
- If problem persists Head is informed and matter is discussed during a meeting between all stakeholders (Head of School/ Asst. Head, Teacher, Parent and the Pupil).
- Other agencies may be asked to support/intervene in order to support pupil involved.
Finally, if homework is not handed in regularly for a long period of time, measures are taken and recorded in the pupils’ cumulative record card.
- School Diary and iLearn (Virtual Learning Environment)
- Teacher ensures homework is written in the diary or uploaded on iLearn.
- Parents are to check their child’s diary or iLearn.
Pupils with special educational needs
The school sets homework for all children as a normal part of school life. It ensures that all tasks set are appropriate to the ability of the child. If a child has special needs, teachers and Learning Support Assistants endeavor to adapt any task set so that all children can contribute in a positive way.
School Language Policy Aims
- To adopt a whole-school approach to literacy across the curriculum in keeping with the principles and practices established in the National Minimum Curriculum;
- To empower children to access the full curriculum which will thus lead to the mastery of the key competences of lifelong learning;
- To enable all pupils to reach their potential in the key literacy skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening;
- To help children express their ideas through speaking and listening;
- To encourage children to develop the necessary skills to become fluent independent readers and to develop appropriate writing skills.
- The school language policy is in line with the general aims as stated in the National Minimum Curriculum;
- The school language policy includes strategies for the teaching of both the Maltese and English language;
- The school language policy has developed from an action research process (NMC, pg.86). The school stakeholders examined routine practices, analysed existing context and implemented innovative practices before finalising the school language policy;
- The language policy is the responsibility of all teachers: only through the everyday commitment of the teacher in the class can the desired effects become a reality;
- In order to keep this policy alive it will be reviewed at the end of each scholastic year and innovative practices will be implemented;
- Language learning does not only take place in specific subjects explicitly defined and reserved for it such as mother tongue education or a second language education. Language learning and education also takes place in each and every mental activity across the curriculum whether we are conscious of it or not (DCM115/2006).
In the primary years language is linked to all aspects of the curriculum. St. Thomas More College Marsaskala Primary commits itself to linking the four basic skills related to language development, namely the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The strategies mentioned below are not restrictive. Each teacher is expected to enhance language teaching through a variety of strategies depending on the children’s ability, class dynamics and other situations may arise from time to time.
As language is part of ones’ identity the recognition of the mother tongue and the culture associated with it will increase a child’s self esteem and general sense of well being. As highlighted in the NCF (pg 32) skilful use of Maltese language will help children appreciate their own national identity and strengthens their capacity as responsible citizens.
St. Thomas More College Marsaskala Primary recognises that the development of the mother tongue is central to the whole development of all cognitive skills in children. The School Language Policy strives to provide students with every opportunity to develop their first language since, as highlighted in the NMC (pg 38), the development of the first language facilitates the development of other languages.
Normally students with good mother tongue skills develop good general language skills and thus importance should be given to the first and second language at both levels (NMC pg 38). ‘In the primary years, while the first language is respected, promoted and strenghtened, they begin their journey of the second official language of the country in meaningful ways which serve to promote learning and understanding of the world beyond language itself’. (NCF pg 27)
At STMC Marsaskala Primary School teachers will encourage students to speak English in class. Teachers are encouraged to use English when teaching English and Maths. ‘In situations when teaching these subjects in English causes a problem, code switching can be used as means of communication’. (NMC pg 79)
Developing Listening and Speaking Skills
In these guidelines the various competences of listening and speaking are outlined below:
- provide good models of spoken language to help children widen their vocabulary and learn;
- make eye contact with speakers;
- ask the kind of questions attentive listeners would ask;
- give feedback;
- teach students to wait before they speak;
- listen attentively to others;
- think about what has been said;
- gather their thoughts and frame their replies;
- provide opportunities for students to extend their spoken communication;
- enable them to listen appreciatively and to respond in a variety of ways to stories, poetry and rhymes;
- provide good models of spoken English to help students increase their fluency and learn how to structure sentences, speak confidently and learn how to structure sentences, speak confidently and clearly and sustain dialogue;
- encourage children to participate in performances using appropriate language e.g. role-play, drama and presentations;
- encourage and prepare children to participate in assemblies and other school activities;
Developing Reading and Writing Skills
In these guidelines the various competences of reading and writing are outlined below.
- auditory discrimination (e.g. identifying and matching sounds);
- visual discrimination (e.g. matching pictures, shapes etc.);
- left to right orientation;
- sorting activities;
- classifying (e.g. odd one out);
- sequencing activities;
- recalling (e.g. what is missing);
- help children reflect on the form and content of the book;
- encourage children to predict the story from the illustrations;
- develop and support their curiosity about the text and the meaning it conveys;
- encourage children to examine the print and how texts are structured;
- use their skills in speaking and listening to explore, articulate and extend their understanding of texts;
- ask inferential questions since these help develop in depth reading skills such as learning to read between the lines;
- discuss the set up and ask them to summarise what happens;
- understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately;
- read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding;
- use a variety of strategies when they come across new words;
- understand the conventions of different information text types and be able to use these conventions confidently as readers and writers;
- plan and organise by means of: spider, squashed web, lists, senses;
- adapt their writing to suit audience and purpose;
- be confident users of subject specific vocabulary and correct spellings;
The children are taught that proper writing involves having a purpose, deciding what needs to be written, planning their thoughts, drafting, proofreading and presenting work neatly. Teachers will :
- teach pupils how to understand and be able to write in a range of genre and be familiar with ways in which those genre are constructed;
- set writing tasks that have clear purposes, are objective driven and which are appropriate for the age and ability of the pupils concerned;
- teach pupils how to structure their writing using a variety of sentence structures, paragraphs and a wide range of punctuation;
- ensure that pupils are familiar with the appropriate style and conventions to write in a particular genre e.g. newspaper report etc.;
- provide good models of particular kinds of writing;
Developing Handwriting Skills
In kindergarten classes children will be encouraged to do a great deal of scribbling and inventive writing and to discover letter shapes and movement. At this stage children will:
- be allowed plenty of practise of pre-writing skills involving scribbling and pattern word which will help develop perception and hand-eye coordination. This can also link in with art and craft work;
- practise in pencil control and fine motor movements before being introduced to letter formation.
Specific attention will be given to:
- physical development
- postural control
- shoulder stability
- development of web space (The web space refers to the circle that forms with the tip of the index finger and the thumb touching)
- pencil control
- pencil grip
- different needs of left-handed children.
Handwriting and Spelling
It has been shown that good handwriting and spelling go together: the work of Cripps and Cox (1989) indicates that when the two skills are taught together, children do become more confident in looking at and writing words and more able to identify misspellings. Therefore at STMC Marsaskala Primary the teaching of spelling and handwriting will be linked together.
Specific attention will be given to:
- letter formation
- letter size
- order of letters
- capital letter sequence
- cursive handwriting
- different needs of left-handed children
If handwriting is the means of communication then it means it must be easy to read with letters properly formed. Therefore the first priority is legibility. Since some children will always find cursive handwriting difficult, and since in the early stages of spelling children rely on segmentation skills, at STMC Marsaskala Primary print form will be taught during the first two years of formal schooling.
At a later stage, students will be introduced to the cursive form. Once mastered cursive handwriting is quicker and easier than print. Besides it reduces the chance of reversing letters by removing the need to lift the pen between letters in a continuous flow from left to right. It assists with retaining spelling patterns due to its multi-sensory effect.
In due process children will require different levels of writing for different purposes namely a very fast hand for personal notes, a clear but quick hand for general use and finally a formal hand for special occasions.
HEALTHY EATING POLICY
It is important that all students consume a healthy breakfast daily before coming to school. Breakfast contributes to children’s growth and development and it helps protect them against disease. Studies show that when children have breakfast daily they are more alert, their memory improves and they perform better at school.
Students should eat:
- bread or sandwiches with ham and /or cheese
- bread with fresh tomatoes, tuna and lettuce
- fresh fruit (e.g. apple, peeled orange, etc.)
- crackers or galletti
Students should not eat:
- Salty snacks e.g. crisps
- Chocolate bars
- Chewing gums and any other sticky sweets
Children should drink:
- White milk during the first break.
Children should not drink:
- Soft drinks
- Fruit juices or squashes with sugar
Preferably, children are to bring a plain sponge cake (with no cream or chocolate spread), cupcakes or other sweets to school in order to celebrate their birthday with their friends in class.
At Marsaskala Primary School we believe that adequate assessment policy and training will result in students improving in academic achievement.
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2012) and the Framework for Education Strategy for Malta (2014-2024) envisage the need to raise the standards of learning through a quality education for all. Such a quality of education is based on effective and efficient teaching and learning that are measured by various forms of assessment.
The Aims of Assessment
- to define each student’s ability
- to reveal students’ strengths and weaknesses
- to inform future planning and target settings
- to communicate accurate information to teachers, pupils and parents
- to comply with statutory requirements.
Basic Principles of Assessment for Learning
- Understanding where learners stand in their learning
The teacher uses a two to three minute task/activity as an introductory technique to find out where all students stand in their learning. A wide range of techniques may be used for example asking a question, brainstorming, giving a statement, concept mapping, etc. The teacher involves all the students, listens, observes and tunes in to students’ responses. The teacher then uses the information collected to make the necessary adjustments.
- Clear and Shared Learning Intentions
The teacher refers to syllabus when developing the Learning Intention. The teacher shares the Learning Intention during the first part of the lesson. The Learning Intention is written down and presented in language that students can understand. The Learning Intention is visible throughout the lesson. The teacher revisits the Learning Intention during and at the end of the lesson.
- Providing Opportunities to Think Through Good and Effective Questions
The teacher plans and poses open-ended questions/tasks/activities. The teacher gives sufficient thinking time and uses a variety of skills such as no hands up technique, pose-pause-pounce-bounce strategy, think-pair-share, etc. The teacher uses wrong answers to develop understanding and gives opportunities to learners to formulate their own questions.
It is the responsibility of the SLT (Senior Leadership Team) that assessment for learning procedures are monitored through class visits.
The HOD (Head of Department) will support the development and implementation of the policy.
The INCO (Inclusive Coordinator) ensures the effective implementation and monitoring of this policy so as to ensure equitable access to a relevant curriculum for learners with Individual Educational Needs.
Teachers set and communicate appropriate learning objectives for each unit of work and provide learners with opportunities to think through good and effective questioning.
LSAs (Learning Support Assistants) follow the teachers’ learning objectives where possible and adapt these learning objectives to the best interest of the child.
Parents take an active interest in their child’s work by asking him/her about it. Parents have a positive and encouraging attitude during homework without doing the homework itself while providing the right environment to get the homework done.
Learners should engage actively in learning and participate in assessment opportunities during lessons. Learners should also take responsibility for understanding and act on both written and oral feedback given by their teachers or peers.
- Kindergarten level
At the end of every term KGAs give a pack of worksheets/activities to each student of the work that each child has covered through the term.
Assessment reports are carried out throughout the year. These sum up what the learners have learned.
- Year 1-2-3
Assessment reports are carried out throughout the year. These sum up what the learners have learned.
- Year 4-5-6
Formative use of Half Yearly exams to be implemented as stated in Circular DCM 057/2015. Reports of Half Yearly exams are given during Parents’ Day while annual reports are sent by post and are accessible on iLearn.
Assessment of progress of Induction Classes is a part of day to day learning during individual and collaborative activities. Specific assessment tasks can also be important in assessing progress.
Parents and carers have the opportunity to meet with the class teacher at least twice a year in formally held Parents’ Evening (during the first term) and Parents’ Day (during the second term).
During these meetings teachers inform parents of their child’s overall ability, rate of progress and how parents can support the way forward at home.
Students’ Behaviour Policy
Our vision at Marsaskala Primary is to provide high quality learning and teaching environment where every child and adult has the opportunity to develop to their full potential.
The National Curriculum Framework, NCF 2012, and the Framework for Education Strategy for Malta (2012-2024) is encouraging the children and teachers to work together and learn from each other within an inclusive safe and orderly environment.
The Policy Aims:
- to promote human dignity through the provision of safe, secure, positive and caring school community that encourages learning, positive peer and teacher relationships, self- motivation, self-esteem and self-discipline;
- to encourage and develop in students a strong sense of personality and responsibility towards others and a clear understanding of the consequences of their decisions and actions;
- to encourage parents to help their children support and show respect towards the school’s authority
The Basic Principles:
The Behaviour Policy is based on the following principles known as the Golden Rules:
We try our best! We are honest! We treat everyone equally! We play together!
We want to be safe, responsible and respectful!
We expect everyone to follow the Golden Rules which are based on these Shared Values:
We teach the children about the Golden Rules through assemblies and our everyday interactions with each other.
Each class will then decide their own rules; that is the Silver Rules.
Both Golden Rules and Silver Rules are displayed in each classroom.
Strategies and Procedures:
Positive Behaviour – Catch Them Doing Something Good
Everyone should set out clear expectations at all times. Children need to be conscious that positive behaviour will be rewarded. Both during lessons and out in the yard students have to be on their best behaviour.
Carrying on with work assigned, paying attention and actively participating in lessons, working in a team, showing good manners, playing safely and not doing anything to endanger others are all good examples which can be rewarded.
When positive behaviour is shown by an individual child:
- the student is given encouraging verbal comments;
- a note is sent to the student’s parents or guardians;
- the student is sent to the Assistant Head of Section/Head of School for praise;
- a certificate is presented to the student at the end of every month (Star of the Month);
- an award for outstanding behaviour is given during Celebration Days for every Year Group.
When all the students show positive behaviour, then the class will be rewarded by a token system. The group can take up to 3 tokens a day. Tokens are placed in a container, e.g. jar or tin and can be exchanged through points.
Children themselves together with their class teachers can come out with ideas for rewards. Though, these are some ideas which can be used:
- Extra 15 minutes playing time amounts to 10 points;
- Picnic in school area amounts to 20 points;
- Homework free day amounts to 30 points;
- A choice of an outing amount to 50 points;
- A sport session amounts to 100 points.
If the students decide to use the tokens, then the teacher has to return them to the Assistant Head of Section. On the other hand, if they do not use them, they can continue with their positive behaviour to reach a higher target.
Sanctions for Unacceptable Behaviour
All stakeholders should be aware that unacceptable behaviour is not tolerated within STMC Marsaskala Primary School. The following are examples of behaviour which may result in sanctions: calling out in class, throwing things at each other, talking over the teacher, name calling, aggressive or violent behaviour, bullying (refer to School’s Anti-Bullying Policy) damage to school property, swearing, stealing etc.
Although it is difficult to draw up a definitive list of examples of inappropriate behaviour, this gives us an idea of what is and what is not acceptable in our school. Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and teachers will then use their professional knowledge when supporting children who display challenging or inappropriate behaviour. The Nurture Group will work in collaboration with class teachers when necessary.
As a fully inclusive school, we understand that some children need extra support. Staff are trained in calming down techniques and how to deal with challenging behaviour. However, a child may have an Individual Behaviour Plan and a separate system for rewards and sanctions in addition to the whole school rewards and sanctions. This is agreed by the SLT, INCO, parents/carers, adults working with the child (refer to National Inclusion Policy).
Every effort will be made to be patient and to reward good behaviour. However where children persistently break Golden or Silver Rules the following sanctions occur in this order:
- the student is given a verbal warning;
- the student discusses inappropriate behaviour with the teacher and is given a time out in class;
- the student discusses inappropriate behaviour with the teacher and is not allowed to play during break time;
- the student is sent to the Assistant Head of Section/Head of School who will speak to the child and inform parents about misbehaviour; if need be referred to Guidance Team and/or Psychosocial Team
- the student will be referred to the Prefect of Discipline who will speak to the student and inform Head of School about actions to be taken.
If the child continues to misbehave, then it is being recommended that the Class Teacher logs incidents which s/he can use for further reference.
In conclusion, students need to understand that they have to accept the responsibility for their own behaviour and that positive or negative behaviours have consequences which increase or reduce choices in life.
The main objective remains to inculcate a good and positive behaviour amongst all students. They need to settle in a school environment which leads to student achievement and enables them to engage in active learning.
 Kindergarten classes, Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 will have soft coloured cotton which they can put in jars. While as Year 4, Year 5, Year 6 can have tokens printed on coloured paper.
 For Kindergarten students we can use traffic lights and show the red light when a student is showing bad behaviour.
Bullying is that behaviour which is repeated over time by an individual or a group and which is intentionally hurtful in a direct manner against a person who has difficulty defending himself.
Designated Member of Staff (Key Contact Person):
Ms A. Massa (Asst. Head)
- To provide a safe and secure environment for all;
- To protect students and all stakeholders;
- To prevent and stop bullying behaviour;
- To promote values based education.
- Promote a stable and safe school environment.
- Prevention and early intervention programme.
- Encourage parents to take a more active role.
Student to student bullying
- Either in class, on the school premises or even on outings, all members of staff are to verbally intervene immediately to stop any bullying behaviour.
- When a student reports a bullying incident, members of staff need to listen in a non-judgemental manner.
- Listen to reporting student carefully.
- Speak to the perpetrator (separately from reporting student)
- Speak to witnesses for further clarification.
- Inform designated member of staff about incident so that it can be noted in the Incident Report Book. Situation is investigated and clarified whether it is conflict or bullying, and proceed accordingly.
- Discuss with the designated member of staff who is going to address the issue. In cases where designated member of staff approaches entity to address the issue – the Nurture Class, the Counsellors and Guidance teachers and the College Master of Discipline (in that order) this is done verbally and/or in writing.
- If the case is still unresolved, the entity involved is expected to report back to designated member of staff who in turn refers case to the Anti-Bullying Service (online referral in writing).
- In such cases, the designated member of staff is to inform parents of both parties verbally, and if need be by means of a letter.
- If the parents are making the referral about the bullying incident, it must immediately be reported to the Head of School or designated member of staff, and then follow guidelines mentioned.
- Inform SMT members, who in turn informs parents of the students.
- SMT members keep record of the meetings with the parents and decisions taken (if any).
- SMT members advise parents to file a police report (this needs to be included in the incident report log book).
- Should SMT still have concerns about the student/s safety they are to inform APPOGG.
Adult to Student Bullying:
- Any form of adult to student bullying is considered as child abuse.
- Head of School needs to be informed immediately.
- Head of School is obligated to inform Director of Student Services, in writing and copy College Principal. Child Safety Services are also included in such cases.
- The Director of Student Services will set up a board to investigate the case.
- Outcome will be forwarded to the Director General of the Directorate for the Education Services.
- If allegations are unfounded, the Director General will dispose of all collected data.
- If allegations are sustained, DG is to proceed according to the established regulations and legislations.
Student to Adult Bullying:
- To be dealt with at SMT level.
- Further advice is to be sought from College Principal, who in turn refers to the Director of the Students Services Department.
The PSCD Teachers and the Nurture Team hold regular sessions regarding positive behaviour and anti-bullying.