The benefits of ditching homework planners at Hinchingbrooke School

by David Pendlebury, Assistant Principal for Assessment and Reporting at Hinchingbrooke School

In September, Hinchingbrooke School in Cambridgeshire ditched their homework planners and moved to using Doddle as an electronic planner for all departments.

We spoke to Assistant Principal for Assessment and Reporting, David Pendlebury, about why they made this move and the impact it has had.

How would you describe your old planners?

Our old planners were cumbersome, frustrating and were forgotten or lost very often. Students were meant to get them out at the start of each lesson, but invariably did not do so. Even for the students who remembered their planner, some of the instructions were quite long because it’s never as simple as “do the worksheet”, is it?

Staff would have to write off between five and ten minutes of each lesson to simply get homework written down in planners. This ate into lesson time too much and just wasn’t effective, all things considered.


Why did you choose Doddle to address this?

We loved the idea of bringing all the systems we needed into one platform that was easy for staff, students and parents to use: so we chose Doddle. When we explained our plans to staff, the announcement was met with relief; there was no reluctance to using a new system, people really wanted it. It was a seamless transition and has been remarkably straightforward.


How has Doddle impacted on teaching and learning?

Teachers love the ease with which we can set homework on Doddle – it’s a dead easy, user-friendly system. You can literally set work within seconds and we no longer lose lesson time to getting homework written down – staff and students all know it’s on Doddle. Of particular use are the self-marking quizzes which save teachers time on marking.


As a school leader, how has Doddle helped you?

From a senior management perspective, we can just log in to Doddle and see exactly what has been set and what has been completed. Furthermore, you can see whether teachers are setting homework and whether the activities being set are challenging enough.

What has the response from students been like?

Students love Doddle. They really like having all their homework in one place with all the instructions they need, and the fact that they don’t have to write it down. The only thing they don’t like is that they’re being held to account more – which is actually great! They know they can’t get away with skipping homework!

One student recently said to me, “I used to really like you, sir. Before Doddle I used to lie to my parents so I could go and play with my friends, but now they can see my homework, I can’t get away with it!”


How has Doddle supported parent communication?

Doddle Parent is a really key part of our homework system: it puts parents in control. They can see the homework being set and can be a part of it.

With our old planners, parents were completely out of the loop a lot of the time. Now parents can choose how frequently they monitor their child’s homework. 

Some parents want to be involved in every aspect of their child’s homework, others want to hand over responsibility to the kids and use their Doddle accounts to check in every so often. What’s key is that Doddle gives parents the ability to access the information they want when they want it.


Have there been any other benefits of moving to Doddle as your electronic planner system?        

Since we can use Doddle as a repository for uploading materials like worksheets and exam papers, we don’t have to pay out for huge printing bills to provide our students with the materials they need to complete homework and we can still support learning and revision in the run-up to exams really effectively. It’s difficult to say how much we’re saving there. At the moment, we have slimmed down the planners to contain information such as term dates and uniform rules, but we are saving somewhere in the region of £2,000 and this will increase when we get rid of our planners altogether.


How would you summarise Doddle?

Doddle has made setting homework easier, we have made a financial saving by using it, and it has meant that we can focus more on teaching and learning in the classroom.

It is a very user-friendly system for setting homework and the quality of resources on Doddle are really, really good.

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