Image courtesy of Artinfact
Revision is a very odd thing in schools. There is a very important question to be asked which should be at the heart of a schools provision, "Who is working harder? Teacher or student?"
I have worked in schools where the following are provided, even expected by students:
- Revision guides - some handwritten by teachers, some photocopied at great expense to the department.
- Revision classes - at lunch time or after school, even in the school holidays.
- Revision conferences - often provided externally, sometimes funded by students, sometimes by the school.
- Revision skills days - often provided at great cost to the school by external providers.
- Study Leave
First and foremost, I am not saying these are a waste of time. I am absolutely sure these help students improve their final grades. I think few teachers would want to try research on this and do nothing in the final weeks and months of the GCSE and AS/A2 courses as a RCT. However, I think there some important things to consider:
- Does the student see their revision guide as being superior to their two years of notes, activities and carefully crafted lessons?
- Is the revision guide more a 'lucky charm' than a genuine tool for learning? (I have seen students hugging one saying that "everything will be okay now".)
- Is it good use of the teachers time to be producing an extensive revision guide?
- Are revision classes a substitute for time spent learning at home? (I fear students RE revision entails turning up for 20 minutes on a Thursday lunchtime to 'tick that box')
- Should teachers be expected to do these extra classes? (I have heard of some schools which pay... the pressure can either come from SLT, colleagues who do it for their classes or students themselves)
- How useful are revision conferences? (Are they just affirmation for the teacher that they have indeed taught it right?)
- Do revision classes cater for all the needs of the students attending? (Can you help the student working at a D grade get the C while also helping stretch the A to an A*?)
- Are revision skills days a good use of budget when teachers in school could be taught how to deliver these with the right CPD?
- Do we presume that outsiders have a greater effect on our students than us?
- Are we confident that students spend 5hrs or more revising at home each day?
These may sound negative, but I think schools do need to take careful look at their provision. Not only from a budget point of view, but also for staff well-being and actual impact on students.
It reminds me of what my personal trainer at the gym once told me, 'most people put on weight when they join the gym as they overly treat themselves for their hard work'. Do our students over reward themselves when they buy a revision guide or attend a revision lesson?
As always, some do, some don't. It's not as simple as 'revision input is a total waste of time', nor it is 'the best thing we can do for our students'. I've got lots of students asking us for our department revision guide at the moment, plus asking me to give up a full day of my school holiday to do revision lessons. I'm just wondering the best response...