Should children be given homework? The question sounds like one of the fantasy scenarios that’s given to children in debate club, but it may no longer be a fantasy, much to the delight of many children and parents in the UK.
Homework has been a tradition in UK schools for so long now that it’s become the expectation that children are set homework. The UK is firmly on the ‘average’ line for the amount of homework that gets set, which is 4.9 hours per week on average for 15-year-olds, according to the OEDC.
However, this long-standing tradition is no longer viewed as favourably as it once was. In a recent survey from YouGov, 64% of parents responded that children aged 6 to 15 shouldn’t be given summer holiday homework. The survey also revealed that 33% of parents thought their children were getting too much homework.
So, does homework still have a place in UK schools?
Homework: An Outdated Practice?
Homework has long been considered unpopular by students who don’t want to bring school home with them, but is there actually any grounding to the idea of reducing or eliminating homework? According to research from Stanford University, there might be.
The study discovered that 56% of students viewed homework as very stressful, with only 1% responding that they weren’t stressed by homework. The study also showed that homework could contribute to health problems, such as sleep deprivation, and cause students to give up on other activities.
In OFSTED’s annual 2017 Parents Panel report, more than a third (36%) of parents responded that primary school homework wasn’t helping their children. In the same report it was mentioned that many parents thought that homework negatively impacted on home life.
There’s a lot of negetive opinion about homework, but equally, there’s plenty of positivity over this tradition…
Are There Any Benefits to Homework?
In a long-running study produced by the Department of Education on GCSE influencers, a positive correlation was found between the amount of time that students spent on homework and performance at GCSE level. Overall, students that spent between 2 and 3 hours a night on homework had significantly better GCSE results.
Homework can be seen as a useful tool and an extension of in-class learning, but it also teaches other important life skills, like time management, responsibility, and independent learning. Homework also helps teachers to monitor student performance and provides a structured way for students to review class work.
Does Homework Have a Future?
In some ways, homework has just as important of a role to play in education as it ever has, but in other ways, it’s starting to be viewed as outdated, in its current form at least. In OFSTED’s 2017 report, the view of parents was that homework should be meaningful, achievable, and engaging for it to be worthwhile. 72% of parents also said that ‘prep’, where students research at school to plan for lessons, would be better than traditional homework.