Supervised Prep and Academic Coaching

Prep (homework) study is a valuable part of boarding life at Frensham, and is supervised by Frensham teachers throughout the week.

Prep and Academic Coaching to build independence

Frensham girls say that ‘Prep’ (preparation/homework) is easy to manage as a boarder – because teachers are the supervisors and the set times mean there is nothing else to distract from the task at hand. From Year 7 to Year 12, the progress towards independence is supported by appropriately increased challenges, extended time, intentionally varied tasks and high expectations of personal responsibility for studies management.

Juniors (Years 7 to 9) are fully supervised for Prep by Frensham teachers. Year 10s are ‘at their own desk in the House’, also supported by Frensham teachers.

However, by Year 10, a strong work ethic is the ‘norm’ – and Years 10-12 enjoy easy access to a team of teachers available on site.

Our approach to Prep is that it is valuable only if integrated with classroom learning, essential to improve learner outcomes and appropriate to the skills and understanding of every girl. For this reason, Frensham Prep is rarely the same for a group of students.

Prep may take several forms:
  • Review and confirmation of the day’s classwork
  • Short term reading and exercises to help prepare for the next class
  • Long term assignments and research
  • Regular, ongoing revision and practice
  • Specific revision of knowledge and skills for a particular task

Finding the balance of Academic help

Frensham provides generous, personalised academic mentoring by class teachers, and girls can also access academic coaches (in Mathematics, English and Science). They may also be scheduled by their teachers for additional ‘coaching’.

We are very careful not to ascribe to the ‘tutoring notion’ gripping many high schools – where students become dependent upon an outsider to explain what is being covered in class by their teachers, rather than working with the School to build their skills and capacity.

Recently we shared with parents an article by Sarah McKibbin, managing editor of ASCD’s Education Update (December 2016) on the best way to promote independence and confidence in student leaders. In short the message is, ‘Resist the urge to rescue. Learn how to provide strategies not solutions, when students ask for help.’

Productive struggle

In a classroom that emphasises productive struggle, ‘the biggest thing teachers can do is to resist the urge to rescue students... When teachers help too much, they reinforce the idea that it is about getting it right and not about the struggle of learning. Eventually, students won’t put forth effort at all, because it is not being rewarded or emphasised...’

Included in the advice from researchers are the following:
  • Reframe ‘help seeking’ to mean ‘seeking input’... everyone needs input at some point... and an equally significant obstacle to ‘dependence on rescue’ in terms of academic or social growth is reluctance to seek input when it is needed.
  • Crucial for students is to learn when they are struggling productively or destructively.
  • Remember that the learning process is about the struggle – and you don’t want to take that away.