Extended Learning

“Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not merely for your masters.”  Colossians 3:23 ___________________________________________________________________

At St Thomas a Becket we believe that a child’s learning is not limited to the confines of the classroom. We will seek to set extended learning that enables your child to become increasingly responsible for their own learning. Teachers will ensure that learning is promoted beyond the classroom and that our pupils develop their learning independently at home. This guidance explains the nature of setting extended learning tasks, the regularity of setting extended learning tasks and outlines expectations of teachers, parents and pupils in ensuring extended learning is completed to a suitable standard.  

Why is extended learning important?

Extended learning will enable students to:

  • consolidate/extend work
  • develop research skills
  • have opportunities for independent work
  • access resources not available in the classroom
  • show progress and understanding
  • take ownership and responsibility for learning
  • enhance their study skills
  • Develop their essential knowledge (Also see Knowledge Organisers) 

Tasks may include:

  • practice-learn by doing
  • independent learning/revision
  • coursework/controlled assessment preparation
  • research
  • reading
  • interview
  • drawing
  • using ICT
  • recording
  • model making
  • extended writing
  • exam questions and/or tests


Given that the demands on each Key Stage and subject area are slightly different, it is difficult to outline the precise number of extended learning tasks to be completed and on which day of the week. As a result, the following guidance should be followed:

KS4 – Options, RE and core MFL – 1 per week. English, Maths and Science – 3 per 2 weeks

KS3 – RE, English, Maths, MFL and Science – 1 per week.

All other subjects – 1 every 2 weeks

This allows for the extended learning to be well prepared; appropriate and challenging for all learners. A department may also decide that they wish to replace the fortnightly policy for a half termly project based task, especially at Key Stage 3. If this is the case, departments will be consistent in the application of such project tasks and make the success criteria clear to all pupils.  The project task will reflect the amount of work pupils would have carried out if individual tasks had been set instead, weekly.  Where the demands of a course, particularly at Key Stage 4 warrant extended learning to be more than once a week, this is acceptable.  However, reasonable deadlines must be set to enable all pupils to succeed.

All extended learning is recorded via Class Charts and can be accessed by both pupils and parents. Information will include the name of the subject and member of staff setting the work, the title of the extended learning, the date when the work was set and when the work is due to be completed by. Failure to complete extended learning tasks will be recorded onto the Class Charts app (parents/carers and students will automatically be notified when this event has been recorded).

Parents must:

  • support but not do the extended learning for the student
  • make sure their child is spending the required amount of time completing the extended learning
  • help pupils with strategies to cope
  • access and monitor extended learning logs via the Class Charts app
  • please contact school if there is a problem regarding extended learning

Pupils must:

  • check their extended learning on the Class Charts
  • organise their time to ensure all extended learning deadlines are met
  • try their best to produce work of the required standard with each piece of extended learning to ensure progress
  • take pride in their work
  • react to all feedback given to make further improvements to their work

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 timetable and 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 effort they make with Extended Learning Tasks. Notice progress.
  • Don’t do it for them and if they are unsure, try to support them in a way which enables them to find the solution rather than you giving it to them.
  • If they can’t do something, that’s okay, so long as they really give it a go. In school, we are focussing on resilience and 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 don’t 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 isn’t perfect.
  • Make learning fun – sing, draw, laugh, play with the tasks they are given 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 – has a negative effect. Young people become sedentary, their attention span often reduces and they can become withdrawn and “low”. This is particularly the case if they are engaging in long periods of screen time alone in their rooms.


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 reads for half an hour each day whenever possible.

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

Your child’s English book may also have several recommended reading books which run alongside each unit of work and the planner also contains wider recommended reading lists.

However, any 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 confidence and self-esteem as their proficiency grows, helps to develop focus, concentration, vocabulary and spelling, enables pupils to explore and respond to new ideas, to develop their ability to construct effective sentences, paragraphs and arguments…….the list goes on. Research data from the UK and from countries across the globe tells us that young people who read for pleasure regularly are far more likely to achieve well academically (reading regularly has been shown to add the equivalent of a whole year’s extra education over the 5 years of a high school career), to be resilient emotionally and to have good “people skills”.

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.

DID YOU KNOW? St Thomas à Becket celebrates their highest ever GCSE progress score! Click here to find out more