Homework – let’s be honest!


I have two sons, one in primary, and the other in secondary. Therefore I feel ideally placed to comment on the joys of homework (from a parent’s point of view).

As a teacher, I’ll be upfront and say, let’s scrap it. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. Don’t worry, SLT. I can work equally as hard but on things which are probably more effective.

Anyway, Tarquin’s primary school should know better. There is already evidence out there that homework at primary school has little effect. It destroys family time. What could be a relaxing evening or weekend can easily turn into a highly stressed activity, getting him to then write it up, or me doing battle with the family printer. We have to get it done because that’s what the teacher wants. Tarquin is too young perhaps to realise that there is no way the teacher is going to get back 30 of these excellent homeworks. Many of these type homeworks rely on the fact that the child has ‘pushy middle class parents’. I’m not one of those by the way.

Secondary schools are blighted by the fact that Hattie’s effect size is higher when looking specifically at KS3/4. (thanks Hattie!). Harold’s teachers are streetwise to the fact that they can’t possibly mark as much as their SLT believe they should. So a well known site/app shows my son day after day what I would describe as homework dodges. Draft this, revise that, think about the other. Clearly the teachers have to set a homework because SLT say so, but they can’t practically mark it, hence these dodges.

Me as a teacher. Over the years I have had systems where I set and mark a weekly sheet. However even for top set, chasing the missing ones is a disproportionate amount of work. The marks tell me very little because I don’t know how much help the student had or how long it actually took. It is however a good indicator of ‘organisation’ to a point, or whether or not the student has a friend he can copy from during form period. Teachers have to comment on homework at parents evenings or in report writing, but most experienced teachers have developed ways of giving non committal phrases. It would be more honest, and this needs to come from SLT, if we just did away with the pretense of it all.

Any parent who objects could easily be given a resource which they could work through, certainly in my subject. Most parents would not object and would be glad of stress free evenings. At no point am I saying that students shouldn’t revise for tests and exams etc, especially in KS4.

I said earlier, don’t worry, SLT. In exchange for this concession, your teachers would be less stressed and would probably prepare and teach better lessons. They may even have time to research some pedagogy. They may even volunteer some of their spare time on school clubs etc

There are others making similar points and far more eloquently than I could, for example   – Greg Ashman point 2