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Do schools need to be clearer about the evidence for setting homework?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Are primary schools setting too much homework, the right amount or not enough? Do children really benefit from doing the extra work? Is it a waste of time for teachers and children or is it a difficult balance to achieve the right outcomes and progress for pupils? Would it help parents if schools outlined the reasons why it’s beneficial for children to complete their homework?

    ‘One parent told me that to retrieve their child’s homework, they have to access a shared drive – navigating a complicated sign-in process – and print out worksheets for their child to fill out and return to school. And then, they start on the maths websites with assigned activities which need to be completed each week. The child is seven years old…

    At a recent ‘meet the teacher’ event at our school, one parent raised the issue. This parent wanted homework – traditional, workbook-type homework – and so did their child. And they wanted the teacher to set it for them each week. The teacher’s response was that they have tried issuing standard homework before, and nine times out of ten, it doesn’t get done. The message seemed to be: it’s a waste of time.’

    Fiona Hughes is a freelance writer.

    What are your views about the issue? Will educating parents about the importance of homework really make a difference to make sure that all work is completed?

  2. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    At my children's primary school there are quite a lot of homework tasks set - virtually all of which are (thankfully) optional.
    In my opinion, apart from listening to my children read and testing them on tables and spellings, I don't want to be bothered with any other homework tasks and children of this age are unlikely to do homework without parental involvement. My children do lots of extra-curricular activities, including practising their musical instruments and we often talk about things which might be considered educational - I also want them to have some free time to do silly things and enjoy being children.

    Other parents might feel their children need a boost in school or less unstructured time so some interesting and optional educational activities suggested by the school could be welcomed.
    hammie, damia69 and aypi like this.
  3. maggie m

    maggie m Established commenter

    Why do primary school children need all this homework? I remember learning spellings, time tables and reading.The same for my 2 girls. I did okay BSc 2.1 ( in the days when these were much scarcer). My girls did fine 2 BSc's, an MA and PhD between them. A colleague was telling me recently that her 6 year old son gets 45 mins homework every night. Ridiculous! In some countries he wouldn't even be at school.
    num3bers, hammie, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  4. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    A lot of research evidence (Hattie’s stuff) says it’s a waste of time at primary stage.

    As a profession that increasingly demands evidence for anything and everything, we are good at avoiding it when it doesn’t suit our way of doing things.
    agathamorse and BTBAM like this.
  5. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    I feel that if the majority of students need homework to help them access the curriculum (even though they are a switched on and enthusiastic learner) something is fundamentally wrong with the system.
  6. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Of course!

    I have been given a letter of expectations (informal capability) partially because of not using SMHW enough.

    Despite a blanket email to all teachers that they were not using SMHW enough.
    agathamorse and damia69 like this.
  7. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    I object fiercely to homework. I think encouraging kids to believe you need to work at home, as well as during the day, sends out the wrong message about work life balance and simply feels like feeding them into the dreadful work, work, work mentality encouraged by the establishment.

    I also object because what I teach during the day is more than sufficient and I don't think pupils need more to do at home.

    I object because I see my own children suffer this nonsense and worry about squeezing it in between the various clubs and activities they do in the evenings. They will gain more from these activities than more maths homework.

    I object to homework because it is now simply another check box for SLT to check up on teachers, it creates more marking and admin.

    The pervasive nature of homework/school life is eroding childhood. Instead of carefree lives,children are starting to feel ever more tied to their academic life. Just let them go home and be kids.

    In year 11, fine, encourage revision but otherwise schools should be homework free. This isn't Victorian England and the devil won't fill the time of idle hands.

    Of course never forget: the good kids, the workers, will mostly do homework; the kids who don't work in class (presumably the ones that those in support of homework would say need it most) won't do it or do very little. As such, nothing is gained.

    Oh, and while I'm at it: Show My Homework! what a load of utter b o l l o c k s that is. As if school budgets aren't tight enough. Even if you insist on homework there's no need for this. It is nothing more than a way of SLT checking up on...TEACHERS! ***
  8. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    Sums it up nicely.
    agathamorse and damia69 like this.
  9. bevdex

    bevdex Star commenter

    Every study ever done reaches the same conclusion - homework does not substantially increase attainment in any way. It's a complete b a l l ache to set, mark and monitor AND we have a homework scrutiny by the head and deputy next week. Get rid of it!
    hammie, agathamorse, damia69 and 2 others like this.
  10. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    And here we have the nub of the problem.
    agathamorse and damia69 like this.
  11. slstrong123

    slstrong123 New commenter

    I am a firm believer in homework in secondary school for core subjects. When I first started teaching (10 years ago) recommended homework for my core subject (maths) was 30 minutes per week for KS3 and 45 minutes per week for KS4. I still stick to this and my experience is those that make the effort to do the homework tend to do better than those that don't. Personally not a huge fan of homework in primary although listening to my own children read 4 or 5 times a week, helping them learn spellings and timetables I think is sensible homework for that age group. Maybe a bit more on year 6 to help with the transition to secondary school.
    damia69 likes this.
  12. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    The issue then is consistency. If you write it into policy that core subjects will set homework but others don’t, it becomes unfair.

    How do PE, music, woodwork and other practical subjects set meaningful homework at KS3 that are relevant to their age and skill set? Practical ability are the focus in these subjects so theory work tends to turn most children off and is often too complex to explain in 1hr per week.
    agathamorse and damia69 like this.
  13. bevdex

    bevdex Star commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  14. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    The school I am currently working in does the HW in class time. They record the marks for HWs. because so many kids don't do it they now do the HW te=asks in lesson to ensure we have some marks to record! So a HW takes 1 lesson to do and then most of a second lesson to feedback to allow them to annotate in green ink. Still beats teaching them!
  15. Catgirl1964

    Catgirl1964 Occasional commenter

    So if it is completed in class it is not homework, is it?!
  16. Eszett

    Eszett New commenter

    As a secondary school teacher I spend about 3 hours a week just chasing up homework that wasn't done, logging that it wasn't done, informing parents of what I have just logged, logging that I have informed parents, sitting homework detentions, logging who didn't come to detention, informing parents when the follow-up detention is, passing on names to the Head of Department, so he can chase up the kids who still haven't turned up to do their homework detentions, popping into the the Head of Department's detentions to re-explain the homework (as he is not a subject teacher and can't help).
    When I finally get some homework out of them, I have already spent all the time I apparently have to mark the homework...

    Honestly, I think homework is important in my subject, but the amount of evidence I have to create to show that I have done my best to support students with homework is so ridiculous that sometimes I feel I have no other choice but to "forget" to set homework in some weeks, or to present essential homework as "extension" homework and live with the fact that only 5 bother...
  17. scilady

    scilady New commenter

  18. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    In my last couple of years teaching (I retired back in May) I never set my A-level students homework. They got as much from going through problems in class which I then marked as if they had been done at home. This kept SLT happy and the students had the benefit of every step being explained and having a correct solution in their workbooks. The marking was easy because the answers was always right but I always added a little written comment about presentation or picked up small things just to get some red ink on their books. Results were on par with other departments in the school.

    From my experience with my own children, homework basically destroyed a happy family life during term time because you were always nagging them to get it done. On some occasions I did it for them just to be done with the wretched stuff.
  19. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    with all the concern about childhood obesity, why have many primary schools removed one of the two (historical) play times and insisted on more sedentary work to be done at home? I never did any homework at Primary, instead we went to the park most nights after school. When I drive past that same park now all these years later, it sits largely empty. That suggests we should et a homework that requires some physical activity instead!

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