Earlier this year, I wrote a post about homework in primary schools. I was concerned that my older son was getting too much of it and concluded that a balance needed to be struck.
Since then, however, my thoughts have changed a little. With no letup in the amount set and with his younger brother now getting regular assignments too, I’m taking a much stronger line.
I think homework should be abolished at primary school. Albeit with a caveat. I believe that children should read every day and actively encouraged to do so. But that’s it.
I’m far from alone in thinking this, of course. Celebrities including Rob Delaney, Kirstie Allsopp and Gary Lineker have questioned the value of homework.
Even more recently, an 8,000-strong group of primary school parents submitted a freedom of information request to current Education Secretary, Damian Hinds.
This request asked him to confirm that primary school parents are not legally required to make their children do homework.
As a result, I was contacted for my opinion by The Sunday Times – yep, that’s one of my sons in the picture above the paywall! – followed by LBC and BBC Radio 5 Live.
So I’ve spent a lot of time discussing homework over the last few days. Obviously, given my stance, I think it’s grossly unfair for children to be punished for failing to do it.
For the record, I don’t know whether my sons’ school does this as we don’t want to risk being the only parents seen to let their kids down.
As a result, neither boy has ever failed to hand in their work. But this hasn’t been without stress for all concerned.
Going back to the general rather than the specific, these are primary school children we’re talking about. They learn enough in the classroom and are visibly tired at the end of every day.
They need time to unwind and process what they’ve learned each day. Above all, they need time to just be kids.
As a nation, we shouldn’t be putting them under so much pressure so early in life. Children start school later in most other European countries yet the UK’s performance is, rather alarmingly, slipping.
I’m not saying that children should start school later here, but I think this demonstrates that the current system isn’t working to the best of its abilities. And I think that homework plays a big part.
It creates extra stress for children and parents and I genuinely believe that its educational value is negligible at best.
But what about other parents? I’ve heard from several via social media and it seems that the approach to homework they have experienced is wildly inconsistent.
Many are in the same situation as me, with some reporting an even bigger workload. Indeed, one reader emailed me details of an assignment about British values.
It couldn’t be taught in the classroom due to time constraints. While it stated that those who completed it would earn certificates, it also mentioned Government legislation right at the top of the page. Presumably, the school felt it had no option but to set this as extra homework.
Meanwhile, other parents have told me that homework has been abolished due to the stress it caused. The general consensus across the responses though is that there should be reading and little or nothing else.
So, further to the aforementioned freedom of information request – specifically that of enforcing homework – I think we should be calling for more clarity on whether it should even be set in the first place.
It seems unusual and, indeed, unfair that it differs so much from school to school.
What do you think? Should children be punished for not doing homework? Should they be getting it anyway? How much do your kids have to do?