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Bolton St Catherine's Academy

Bolton St Catherine's Academy

Independent Study

Homework, or Independent Study as it is referred to, at Bolton St Catherine’s Academy complements the work undertaken in lessons.  It nurtures a culture of independence and enquiry, where every young person develops a strong work ethic to achieve their true potential.  Engagement in Independent Study enables students to care about their own studies and to believe in their future life chances.  Students will demonstrate resilience to strive to achieve academic excellence.

Independent Study teaches students to work independently and develop self-discipline, encourages students to take initiative to complete a task and show resilience to work alone, and allows parents to take an active role in their child’s education.  It is an important part of school life and planned carefully as part of the BSCA knowledge rich curriculum to support learning.

Barriers identified that Independent Study can assist in removing.

  • Reading
  • Numeracy
  • Long term memory

At BSCA retrieval practice forms a large part of the independent study we expect from students.

Independent study is important because it enables students to:

  • Continue learning outside the classroom
  • Consolidate newly acquired knowledge, revise prior learning, and practise skills
  • Develop the self-discipline, resilience and confidence to study independently
  • Involve parent/carers in their learning


Our Independent Study plan aims to;

  1. Enable students to take ownership and accountability for their own learning.
  2. Enable students to spend more time engaging in curriculum.
  3. Enable students to engage in work that is meaningful.
  4. Enable students to learn that increased effort and engagement leads to higher success rates.

Underpinning Research – Primary

Research for primary aged pupils from EEF shows impact of primary homework has less effect and broader evidence from EEF suggests homework for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have a quiet working space, less likely to have access to a device suitable for learning or stable internet connection and may receive less parental support to complete homework and develop effective learning habits. These difficulties may increase the gap in attainment for disadvantaged pupils. Therefore, we encourage at home reading through our reading scheme and reading for pleasure through library loans and Bookworm Club within school. To overcome these barriers, following EEF research, pupils are offered homework clubs at lunchtime to access appropriate devices to complete work such as TTR.

Underpinning Research – Secondary

Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) research evidence shows that the impact of Independent Study for secondary aged pupils, on average, is five months' additional progress. However, beneath this average there is a wide variation in potential impact, suggesting that how Independent Study is set is likely to be very important.  There is some evidence that Independent Study is most effective when used as a short and focused intervention (e.g., in the form of a project or specific target connected with a particular element of learning) with some exceptional studies showing up to eight additional months' positive impact on attainment. Evidence also suggests that how Independent Study relates to learning during normal school time is important. In the most effective examples Independent Study was an integral part of learning, rather than an add-on. To maximise impact, it also appears to be important that students are provided with high quality feedback on their work.

“Certainly, I think we get over obsessed with Independent Study. Five to 10 minutes has the same effect of one hour to two hours. The worst thing you can do with Independent Study is give kids projects. The best thing you can do is to reinforce something you have already learnt.”  Prof. John Hattie, 2014

At Bolton St Catherine’s academy the Independent Study is structured to support independent learning and is designed to maximise student progress and attainment. Knowledge Organisers are used to support student learning. Students are trained in self-quizzing and independent retrieval practice and are provided with a folder for Knowledge Organisers as well as a Retrieval Booklet.

Each student will have a BSCA Knowledge Folder which contains the knowledge organisers for that half term. Mini Self-Quizzing books are also given to students.

Part of the curriculum includes teaching students' important skills of self-study and retrieval based on the following retrieval strategies:

  • Look, cover, write and check
  • Word up!
  • Create flash cards on a topic
  • Concept Mind Map
  • Draw or write everything you know


This is not an exhaustive list and different subjects may be able to develop different and engaging strategies to support self-study to support retrieval.  In most cases, after an Independent Study based on retrieval practice, students should sit a Mini Test in class.