• The homework debate

The Homework Debate

Should you have more, less or none at all?
Homework is given out in more than 90% of primary schools in the UK, but for a hundred years experts have been trying to decide whether or not it’s a good thing for you do it. Some people think homework puts too much pressure on you.  A recent online vote about the amount of homework you get: whether it is not enough, just right or too much by BBC Newsround resulted in 8.9% saying there was not enough homework; 28.9 said it was just right and 62.2 said it was too much.
They say research suggests that homework in primary school isn’t helpful for students.
But others say homework is an important part of learning how to work on your own and gives you time to practice what you’ve learnt in the classroom.

Paul Kinsella, headteacher, St Monicas Catholic Primary School

It is understandable why the amount of homework given is a contentious issue. There are fair arguments on both sides. From a schools perspective, teachers know that those pupils who are motivated and prepared to produce additional extension work really benefit from their efforts in terms of their successes. This applies particularly at the first instance when early years children are given letters and words to learn as well as moving through their reading books. The home school link at this stage is vital and homework, in this format, produces positive learning and relations for all parties. This then builds as they grow up in their primary school and applies to all their years in primary school, not just at key exam points such as Year 2 and Year 6 SATs.
For parents, they no doubt want their children to be happy and have a positive attitude to school, yet sometimes, homework can create tensions at home. The demands placed can be the source of real concern from parents about their children’s happiness and emotional welfare.
Primary schools are now finding more and more that their children, despite their young ages, are facing enormous additional pressures from social media and they spend hours on it at home each night. Time spent here on phones and tablets can run ahead of them, causing a panic that they have no time to do their homework, leading to more stresses! This is a new challenge for both schools and parents and achieving a fair balance is the way forward.
Looking at these figures, the concerns from many parents isn’t about banning homework altogether, it is about getting the balance right so their children can enjoy other hobbies and pastimes beyond their school. This is absolutely vital for a happy family life so achieving this balance is the real challenge for everyone.
When schools and parents do this together, for the benefit of their children, everyone wins. The homework debate will probably never go away, but one thing is for certain, and this may well upset the pupils, while homework may change in style and substance in the future to meet their new lifestyles and ways of learning, alas for them, it will probably never go away!

Michael Kennedy, principal, St Mary’s College

Ask a teenager about homework tonight and you are likely to elicit a range of responses, some of them unrepeatable.
Ask a parent, and the reply will probably be more measured but equally emphatic. It has to be done so let’s get on with it.
But why bother? Why not leave it out and do something preferable? After all, Hollyoaks is more entertaining and there is more scandal and controversy to discuss on social media.
Homework has always been one of those things we have to put up with; as a pupil back in the dark ages I thought the same.
Yet life is like that: the challenges we need to undertake to achieve better things in the future often involve unpalatable groundwork that we can’t immediately see the purpose of.
Who wants to do housework? Who wants to queue at the supermarket tills?; or fill in tax forms? Seeing the long-term benefit of any task has to be the key to persevering now.
Homework tasks don’t need to be tedious anyway. Teachers increasingly set more varied tasks that are designed to reinforce learning in the classroom and extend it at home.
The satisfaction gained in solving a problem or completing an assignment can be truly rewarding, even for teenagers who might feel it is not cool to agree.
The value of homework is truly appreciated when the rewards are tangible: success is the great justifier and it is the steps we take in getting there that make it all possible.

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