The Importance of Independent learning


Probably the most important skill you can develop is becoming an independent learner. Being able to organise your own time, sort out what additional information you need and the best way for you to learn it are lifelong skills, which you will use, not only in school and university, but throughout your career.

Homework is one of the most important tools for this.  Through homework, you become used  to spending time studying on your own in the evenings and at weekends. Not all of this study will be immediately organised and directed by your teachers, so you will need to initiate your own study, for example reading around the subject and making regular revision notes.

The first step is to organise yourself.  These points apply whatever year you are.

Before term starts

Make sure you have all the essential equipment that you need:

  • Folders,  wallets and dividers labelled up for each subject.  From the start of term make sure that you have separate files for each subject with file dividers for each topic.
  • Make sure you date all notes and store them in your file straight away.  File all handouts to your file as you get them; keep some plastic wallets in your file in case the notes you are given are not hole-punched.
  • Pens (preferably liquid ink black because they write clearly and evenly and do not fade.)
  • Highlighters
  • Pencils both black and coloured or coloured pens for diagams
  • Pencil sharpener and rubber
  • Memory stick
  • Dictionary/thesaurus etc.

During Term

  • Planner/diary    Always keep your planner/diary up to date.
  • If you use these methods of time planning, along with your own determination,
  • you will become organised in all areas of your life and will be up to date with
  • all your work at school.
  • Write down work as it is set, with a deadline date.
  • Keep track of work completed and work still to be done.
  • Work regularly, if  your teacher does not set homework one day,  use the time allocated in your homework timetable to sort out notes in your folder.
  • Do short frequent chunks of study rather than leaving large amounts of work to do at the last minute. Work that is done late is often rushed and poor quality.
  • Get and use  a dictionary.
  • Always proof read your work checking spelling and grammar before you hand work in.
  • Use all the resources available to you – teachers; Internet; text books; newspapers; libraries; television; radio; VLE
  • Prioritise what you need to do; don’t delay harder pieces of work.
  • Make sure you work in a place where you can concentrate.
  • Make sure you understand what you supposed to be doing.  Ask for advice if you are not sure!  Remember to ask your Tutor!


Many schools give you a year planner.  Put it up on your wall to act as a visual reminder of the year ahead. It will help you plan for long term deadlines.

Remember you can add holidays, school trips, modular and end of year exams, unit deadlines, sports meetings and anything else that fills your year.  If you know what is coming you can organise your time.

Weekly Planning

You will have a timetable of your lessons and homework for the week or fortnight ahead.

Daily Planning

  • Make sure you record homework and coursework deadlines as soon as you are given them.
  • Cross out things you have completed to help you visualise what is left to do and give yourself a sense of achievement.
  • For any subject for which you have an exam, try to make sure you do at least one hour of homework (whether set by your teacher or organised by you) a week.
  • Make sure you study at a set time each week. Try to create regular study times for each day. This will help make studying a habit.
  • Make sure you plan in advance what you are going to do in your study periods for the week, e.g.  research; reading round the subject; writing up notes; essay planning; drawing, etc.
  • Try to balance your activities so that you get free time for friends, family, sports, television etc.
  • Keep your schedule flexible, so that if something unexpected happens you have flexibility.

Keep your weekly plan realistic!

Reward yourself for using study time effectively!