Homework tyrrany at Y3. Parents want a change. How to approach HT about his? Anyone done this successfully?

(43 Posts)
bowerbird Mon 01-Oct-12 10:05:36

Personally, I'd like to see very little or preferably no homework in primary schools. There's absolutely no evidence that homework is beneficial at all at primary level. However, I would accept and work with the school if a small amount of homework was expected and it was about consolidating basic skills like spelling, cursive writing and maths.

The last Ofsted was not good, and I believe that the intentions of the HT are to raise standards, which I would absolutely support. But this isn't the way to go about improving standards. The HT has not consulted parents and has no intention of doing so, believing it is a school issue and not up for discussion.

This term my daughter's weekends have been taken up with an incredible amount of "project based" homework. I don't wish for the school to be identified by describing the projects, but it involves huge amount of parent participation which totally negates the idea of learning to work independently. Lots of building, research, online math activities, craft-y stuff and (horror!) poster making crap. I resent the intrusion into family life - we've spent hours and hours doing these ridiculous assignments.

Anyway, I'm not alone. Most of the parents (and I believe some of the teachers) feel the same way and we want a change in homework policy at the school. Has anyone successfully campaigned against this homework tyranny in a diplomatic way? Any tips or suggestions gratefully received.

Beanbagz Mon 01-Oct-12 10:24:06

What the level of homework during the week?

My DS (also Y3) get a little homework every night during the week but barely none at the weekend. And by little i mean a maths worksheet that takes 10 mins or reading for 15 minutes.

It sounds like your HT is pushing the parents into improving their children's work rather than taking the blame for bad teaching and poor Ofsted report.

I would write to the HT as a group of parents stating your case for an end to this curretn level of homework.

bowerbird Mon 01-Oct-12 10:25:47

Hi Bean, sorry should have made this clear. The project stuff is in addition to the weekly spelling, math practise and reading required.

lalalonglegs Mon 01-Oct-12 10:27:51

I haven't had this problem myself (and I'd royally resent it if I had) but the government guidelines are 1.5 hrs of homework a week at your daughter's age. (see this). If the head won't compromise and you've got the stomach for it, just refuse to do above and beyond that amount - I agree that weekends should be for relaxation and spending time doing non-curricular stuff.

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 10:36:11

Project-style homework is always wrong in primary school.

I am a great believer in homework for consolidation (reading, operations) and memorisation (number bonds, tables, spellings, historical events/dates, poetry/speeches) which require individual concentration. I also like to know what my child masters and what she needs a little help with.

tiggytape Mon 01-Oct-12 10:37:46

You aren't going to be able to win a campaign to reduce homework to nothing because the school is obliged to set homework in line with current guidelines. Many people share your views (and many people want more homework) but that's the way it is.
Similarly, more and more homework will be project / individual research based as the children get older. They won't just be consolidating basic skills but are expected to practice independent learning too. From year 3 onwards poster making crap and project work is pretty much the norm and this continues on with them as they get older too.

You can insist thoguh that you are not going to spend whole weekends on things that take hours and hours to complete. Many parents draw a limit on this and write in the homework book: "Fred's project is not finished but he spent 2 hours working very hard on it this weekend." Schools don't expect you to slave over things for days and, if they do, you are reasonable to refuse.

Based on the fact you already get reading, spellings and maths, project work should be 30minutes to an hour at most really. What happens at school if you do a couple of hours homework but don't finish?

Beanbagz Mon 01-Oct-12 11:50:14

I would set a time limit (1hr max) on this weekend homework then as tiggytape suggested. Especially if you if you don't think you'll be able to stop it completely bowerbird.

I know you've said it takes hours but with a 10yo who can make 30 mins homework take an entire evening, i think maybe you're just putting too much effort in. It should be with your help not done by you.

acebaby Mon 01-Oct-12 12:00:16

Who are these people that want MORE homework? I have heard this so many times, but have yet to meet one.

OP - good luck with your group approach. In the meantime, what we do is to allocate an appropriate amount of time (in our household 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes over the weekend) - and get your DC to do what they can in that time. then books shut. It has worked wonders with focusing DS1's mind (he tends to dither and day dream). Your DC will get more out of a short amount of focused work than an evening of nagging.

Let us know how you get on with the head. I think you are very brave! smile

steppemum Mon 01-Oct-12 12:02:05

there are government guidelines, but i heard recently that schools are no longer required to follow them??

The 1.5 hours mentioned above includes reading. Most schools expect their kids to do 10-15 minutes of reading every day. If you add times tables practice and spelling, that pretty much covers it. To me that is the right amount of homework at primary.

Our school send home 20 minutes of maths and 20 minutes of literacy every weekend. It means our whole saturday morning is taken up with 3 whole hours of complaining and prevaricating by ds follwed by 20 minutes works. (dd does it in the 20 minutes and is off playing)

I really, really hate it. And I don't believe it helps.
last year his teacher asked them to do a diary over half term. ds to be fair did a good job and took it seriously. It cost a huge amount of our family half term time. Then at christmas the same thing. When he came home at next half term with a diary again, he burst into tears.
His teacher had no idea the impact of her 'simple' request was having on our whole family life. I told her nicely at parents evening and she didn't ask for a diary again.

You can just not do it. Send in a letter explaining that you will do government guidelines: reading spelling times tables and whatever and then no more. Copy it to governors if you need to. You can set out all your reasons (family time, children need to playoutside, etc)

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 12:02:19

I'd quite like more homework for DD - I think that repetitive exercises are very useful when parents are around to give one-to-one attention to problems and a complete waste of class time.

bowerbird Mon 01-Oct-12 12:02:41

Thanks for the suggestion about a time limit, which sounds very sensible.

Apologies to you all and please forgive me for drip feeding, but the other horrendous thing is that they're awarding prizes (bronze, silver and gold) for the quality of homework! Which of course creates all kinds of anxiety in DCs. And works towards a very open-ended approach time-wise.

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 12:04:19

It sounds to me as if the school is trying to outsource teaching to parents.

steppemum Mon 01-Oct-12 12:04:32

just seen the suggestion up the thread, yes spend 20 minutes then write that they have done 20 minutes and close books

bowerbird Mon 01-Oct-12 12:06:28

Steppemum. My understanding is that the government guidelines have been scrapped.

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/04/homework-guidelines-scrapped

bowerbird Mon 01-Oct-12 12:07:38

Bonsoir. Ha ha ha ha. Yes it does.

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 12:09:28

This is (sadly) a far too common ploy by schools that are trying to make rapid progress versus Ofsted (or whatever). Easier to get parents to do the work that to train/incentivise their own deadbeat teaching staff...

acebaby Mon 01-Oct-12 12:39:20

Also - if DS1 starts whining, I say I will put the books away immediately - and leave him to explain to the teacher why he hasn't done his homework (and I would have no hesitation in doing so, as I think that a few low homework marks at age 7 do less harm than constant parental nagging and pleading, and ruined weekends). I have never actually had to carry this through though. Admittedly, this might not be a good approach for all children (DS1 is quite eager to please his teacher - and the school doesn't have any concerns about his progress at the moment).

OP - bronze, silver and gold awards for homework -presumably given out publicly . Utter madness shock!

Bonsoir - yes I agree with learning tables and spellings at home (and of course reading). But IMO 15 minutes of this is enough for a 7yo and I don't really see the point of long written assignments/worksheets, which can be fitted into the school day. You're in France aren't you? How does homework work in your DCs' schools? Do they have a shorter day, on the assumption that a lot will be done at home in the afternoon? I remember this system from when I was an au pair many years ago in Italy.

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 12:44:49

In France the primary school week is four days, each of two sessions of three hours with a 1.5 hour break for lunch between the two sessions. School is out at 4.30 pm. There is not supposed to be any written homework at primary school, though private (mostly Catholic) schools do tend to give some. My DD (Y4) has homework four times a week, and she does it on Monday afternoon straight after school, on Wednesday morning (no school on Wednesdays) after breakfast and before all her extra-curricular activities, on Thursday after school and extra-curricular music theory class and on Saturday/Sunday (depending on what we are doing over the weekend). She has a lot more homework at the weekend than during the week, and we also tend to revise all her spellings from the past week at the weekend (she gets about 40 a week in total for French and 12 for English).

steppemum Mon 01-Oct-12 12:53:57

we have actually just stopped all homework nagging as after first weeken dof homework this year I decided I wasn't going to ruin every weekend.
Now ds take shis homework to his room after breakfast on sat. He stays there til it is done. If he chooses to play lego all day then do it at 6pm, that is fine. No tv/computer od ds til it is done. If not done by monday, I write note in book explaining that he was given time and space to do it, he chose not to.

If he wants help he can come down and get as much help as he likes. he can also do it on friday if he likes (we finish early on friday) all up to him.

So last weekend, first one under new system, he did his maths on friday, and on saturday morning came down to ask for help with literacy and did it next to me at the kitchen table. No arguments or nagging.

we may have found a solution....I am holding my breath..

acebaby Mon 01-Oct-12 12:56:32

Thanks for the information Bonsoir - very interesting. The emphasis seems quite different in France. More on learning and consolidating than carrying out extensive projects and extra worksheets.

Gosh - that's a lot of spellings though shock!

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 12:59:33

Yes, the emphasis is very much on homework as consolidation (which I agree with).

DD doesn't find the spellings a burden - in fact, she always learns her spellings first, before doing operations or reading or whatever else she has to do. She finds them very easy - but then, I used to find spelling very easy. I expect that the volume of spelling homework is a lot more of a burden for some DCs.

cansu Mon 01-Oct-12 17:34:41

Bonsoir it is very depressing to be described as 'deadbeat teaching staff' when I have just got home from school and have another two hours of marking and prep ahead of me. Whilst you may not have always been happy with your dc children I think it is appalling to describe all teaching staff in this way.

SunflowersSmile Mon 01-Oct-12 17:39:38

Apart from a very straight forward project to be done by xmas term NO homework here in year 3....
Expectation of nightly reading but no enforcement/ checking.

Bonsoir Mon 01-Oct-12 17:40:53

Where did I describe all teachers that way?! I was describing a method some schools use to improve rapidly when their teachers are not up to making rapid improvements in their teaching...

bowerbird Mon 01-Oct-12 17:48:10

Sunflower you are lucky! This is as it should be.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now