Primary School Scraps Homework

A primary school in the Scottish Highlands has scrapped homework for its 175 pupils, according to a recent report on BBC News. Children and parents voted overwhelmingly against the school’s setting of homework at Inverlochy Primary School in Fort William. Instead of homework children will be encouraged to read and play more.

This follows a long-running discussion within the educational community about the value of homework as a learning tool. Views are largely polarised. Earlier this year the Philip Morant School and College in Colchester, Essex stopped setting homework in favour of allowing more lesson planning time for teachers.

These aren’t the first schools to re-assess the virtues of homework, other schools have done so citing reasons such as reducing mental health problems among pupils. Some schools have even extended school hours to make up the time.

Principle, Catherine Hutley, at the Philip Morant School said “there are not enough hours in the day for a teacher to teach, set homework, mark homework, and plan their lessons.” While homework isn’t being set, out-of-hours learning is still being encouraged at the Philip Morant School through the school’s website, with prizes offered to dedicated students.

The benefits of homework

The jury is out over the pros and cons of setting homework. There are persuasive arguments on both sides of the debate. Many believe there are great advantages for setting homework. Here are some of the reasons supporters of homework argue that it holds benefits:

  • Encourages children to think more independently outside of the classroom.
  • Prepares students for big tests. It’s an opportunity for students to practise what is required.
  • It helps children develop a better understanding of a subject by exploring subjects a bit deeper.
  • Brings families closer together. Children may ask their parents or siblings with help on homework. Some primary schools actually set tasks designed to bring families closer together, such as play a board game or go on an outing, such as a walk in the woods.
  • Develops a sense of responsibility and punctuality, with an awareness of deadlines.

The disadvantages of homework

Many people, parents and teachers alike, feel that homework is having a negative effect on both teaching and pupils learning. The advocates of scrapping homework in schools argue that it is doing more harm than good. They say it is causing unnecessary stress for all involved. Here are the reasons why some are calling for an end to homework:

  • Not enough time to pursue extra-curricular activities and sports.
  • Not enough free time to develop personal skills.
  • Added stress leading to anxiety for pupils who can’t keep up. There is an added pressure having to complete homework every night, which can be daunting for some children.
  • Challenging for parents (especially working parents) to sit for long periods helping with academic tasks, and it may impinge on social family time.
  • It can put children off the subjects they are being asked to study at home – it’s a completely different environment for working.
  • A cause of conflict between children and parents.
  • Children need time to relax.
  • Teachers don’t have time to properly mark homework, so feedback is late and insufficient for learning purposes.

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