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Extended Learning at Mcauley


 At McAuley we have been developing our approach to learning which takes place outside of the classroom.

This year we are no longer referring to this learning as homework, but simply as EXTENDED LEARNING. We have called this approach EXL

We recognise that our parents have many skills and talents and that they are keen to support their child’s learning.

We offer here some ideas and suggestions as to how that might take place.

READING FOR PLEASURE                                                    

The most important and helpful activity any young person can do to extend and support their learning is to READ.

We recommend that every pupil read for half an hour each day whenever possible.

The books they read should be enjoyable as well as being age and ability appropriate (Mrs Warren, the school Librarian and all of our English teachers would be delighted to advise and recommend different books).

Reading undertaken at home does NOT need to be linked to topics the pupils are studying in school – the act of reading ANY good book boosts reading confidence and increases a learner’s understanding and acquisition of a wide vocabulary.

As a learner’s proficiency grows, reading helps to develop focus, concentration, vocabulary and spelling. In turn, this enables pupils to explore and respond to new ideas, to develop their ability to construct effective sentences, paragraphs and arguments.

Research data from the UK and from countries across the globe, informs us that young people who regularly read for pleasure are far more likely to achieve academically.

Where parents read and encourage reading, young people are more likely to read too.


  • Family reading time (a “screen-ban” for half an hour perhaps)
  • Trips to the local library (or browsing the Kindle store together)
  • Reading aloud to teenagers (yes, really – they love it!)
  • Hearing your child read aloud
  • Discussing the books being read
  • Encouraging other forms of reading – newspapers, recipe books etc.
  • Discussing any films or television programmes you watch – encourage children to question, critique and actively engage with the media you allow them to experience
  • Discuss topical issues/news items/issues, encouraging your child to see things from a range of perspectives and to find secure and trustworthy evidence to support a given view point.

Extended Learning Tasks

Your child’s teachers will set a programme of Extended Learning Tasks each term, available to view on the EXL link on the student page of the school website. The tasks may set PRE-LESSON tasks or POST-LESSON tasks or may be topic based learning to enrich your child’s knowledge and understanding of a topic studied in class.

 Year 7 and 8 learners:

Are set a termly bank of tasks linked to the topics studied in the classroom and mirroring the SOLO approach to teaching and learning. The designed tasks aim to motivate and enrich learning around the planned curriculum topics whilst beginning to foster the skills of research and independence in learning within your child.

Your child’s teachers will direct your child in the what, how and when to complete the tasks.

Year 9-11 learners:

Pre-lesson tasks might include finding out about a particular topic before the lesson. The focus of the lesson will then be on developing a pupil’s understanding by applying, analysing and evaluating the information researched. By asking the pupils to do the “lower order” thinking tasks before the lesson, the teacher can then engage the “higher order” thinking tasks. This accelerates and deepens learning.

Other pre-lesson tasks might include practising vocabulary or skills to be used in the next lesson.

As pupils progress through the school and we encourage them to take increasing responsibility for their own learning, we would hope that they would start to prepare for lessons voluntarily by reading ahead or revising prior learning.

Post-lesson tasks might include creating a model, spreadsheet, poem, drawing or newspaper article, which demonstrates, consolidates or responds to the learning that has taken place in a lesson.

Pupils may be asked to use a new piece of knowledge in different contexts – to put some new words into different sentences or practice a new math skill, to build a model of a town based on theories explored in geography or to write a diary from the perspective of a person present at a key historical event.

How parents can help with Extended Learning Tasks

  • Rather than “Have you got any….” or “What did you do today” – questions which any good teenager can easily deflect, have a copy of their timetableand ask them what they learned in history, what they did in art, what they’re reading in English etc. The more specific the question, the more likely they are to share and the more opportunity you have to support their learning.
  • Praise the effortthey make with Extended Learning Tasks.
  • Do not do it for themand if they are unsure, try to support them in a way that enables them to find the solution rather than you giving it to them.
  • If they cannot do something, that’s okay, so long as they really give it a go. In school, we are focussing on resilienceand developing a “Growth Mindset”. We are teaching our pupils to accept that they can’t get everything right first time, that mistakes are opportunities for learning and that intelligence is not fixed – the more we persevere, the more progress we make.
  • Help them to break tasks into small, achievable chunks, to look for new solutions when things do not go well and to be relaxed about not knowing everything. Write a note in the planner explaining how hard they tried, even if the result is not perfect.
  • Make learning fun– sing, draw, laugh, and play with the tasks set whenever possible – use your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.

 Other forms of Extended Learning   

Parents and school provide many opportunities for wider, rich learning beyond set tasks. Supporting a child’s sporting, musical or dramatic talents and activities for example, taking them to new places and finding new experiences are all proven ways to support and enhance learning.

Research repeatedly shows that young people who engage in trips and extra-curricular activities routinely outperform those who do not. Their confidence, resilience, self-esteem and social skills benefit exponentially from this kind of learning.

Conversely, we now know that excessive “screen time” – watching lots of television, playing screen-based games, spending lots of time on the computer, tablet or mobile can have a negative effect. Young people can become sedentary, their attention span often reduces and they can become withdrawn and passive in their learning in school.

Please take a moment to browse through the Extended Learning information on the school website and discuss the tasks with your child.

Thank you for your support, working in partnership with our parents assures every learner receives a spectrum of support sources to maximise their learning and progress.

Any queries and questions please contact your child’s form tutor who will be happy to advice you.

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