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.

Takver Thu 04-Oct-12 20:05:08

OK, we had a similar problem - projects set with no differentiation by ability, so for eg all children from yr 3 through to yr 6 set the same project (write 10 page on X) regardless of ability.

I went along to the parent governor meeting and asked a moderately pointed question about the extent of parental input that was expected for such projects (bearing in mind that at the time my dd couldn't write more than a sentence or two, and others in the class couldn't read at all). This led to a whole run of parents asking very similar questions - including "Am I (ie mum) going to get a grade for each project" grin

Funnily enough though there was no explicit backing down, the projects have become dramatically smaller and more constrained, and more guidance has been given to the children . . .

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 04-Oct-12 19:16:49

Our school's homework policy was rewritten last term and there was a consultation with parents at the parents' forum. Ofsted certainly used to be rather keen on active engagement between senior management and parents. I'm not sure whether that has survived recent changes in the inspection framework, though.

catinhat Thu 04-Oct-12 14:57:00

Our school's homework policy was drawn up by staff and approved by governors after a survey of parents and children and also a meeting.

bowerbird Thu 04-Oct-12 13:20:55

Thanks Zip for those suggestions. SE13 this sounds a great approach - your students are lucky.

Admission, I have requested a homework policy (which is totally driven by the head and was re-drafted in September of this year). When I asked very politely what the timeline for consultation was, I was told that parents would not be consulted as this was a "curriculum issue". So this will be taken up to the Governors, rather reluctantly I have to say, as I don't wish to be adversarial. But I'll have to fight if pressed.

BirdyBedtime Thu 04-Oct-12 13:12:52

I had a shock this term as the homework for DD (P3, Scotland so YR2 equiv) has increased significantly. Last year she had reading (a few chapters a week), and one homework sheet a week (handed out on Monday and due in on Friday).

This term we've been getting a homework sheet, reading, questions about reading (find 5 verbs and write them down, that type of thing) plus topic - which is project based. This term it's the Victorians and they got a list of 4 tasks of which they had to complete 3 and hand in every 2 weeks. This has required significant research on the computer and parental input to ensure that with DD's odd spelling she doesn't end up googling something dodgy.

We're trying really hard to fit it in during the week as I feel weekends shouldn't be for homework at age 7 but it's a struggle and we are often finishing off reading on a Sunday night at 7pm which isn't ideal. She is learning a lot but I wish they'd just send home a spelling list so that she can learn to spell before all of this cross-curricular stuff.

admission Thu 04-Oct-12 11:42:32

The first thing that you should do is ask for the school's policy on homework. It will be interesting to see what this says in comparison with what you perceive is actually happening.
If as I suspect the policy is completely at odds with the reality, then you need to firstly ask the teacher why this is - almost certainly this is what is now expected will be the reply. I would then write to the head teacher and formally complain that the policy and reality bear no resemblance to each other. I have no idea what the answer will be, but it should be in writing. If you are not happy with the reply then you can escalate the complaint to the Chair of Governing Body but the complaint to the CoG has to be around the fact the head teacher has not responded to your concerns not that you disagree with the answer. Hopefully this might get you to a situation where there is some discussion about the level of homework or alternatively to a position where the head teacher and Governing Body confirm this is the policy and level of homework to be expected. Then you will need to make a decision about whether this is a school you want your child in.

This dead-beat teacher has missed out on the gold/silver/bronze hat thing and hates setting (and marking) homework. The children who need extra practice never do it, some parents come in to complain that I have set too much and then in come the other paents to complain that there is not enough. And I dread the daily and weekly battle to get my own daughter to do hers.

redwhiteandblueeyedsusan Thu 04-Oct-12 00:20:37

homework should be optional... some weeks parents are ill or children are tired, things need to be done at the weekend. some childrren see their nrp. parents have responsibility for their parents etc. or they want to take children out to places o jsut to the supemaketso they can eat that week.

personally, I quite like the project homework. for y1/2 childen this can be a lot of fun. it can be done quickly if there is a lot going on or more time spent being creative.

the gold silver and bronze thing is hat is not good about it. far too stressful for children, disappointing that their efforts are not acknowledged, more likely to result in disseffection than willingness to learn.

SE13Mummy Wed 03-Oct-12 22:49:02

I'm a KS2 teacher (and parent of a KS2 child, and a nursery-aged one) who is not a fan of homework per se but is a fan of giving children/parents a choice over whether or not to do any and how long to spend doing it. The sort of homework I give out is an opened-ended task framed as a learning objective e.g. I can find out about the Romans. Children will have from the 2nd (ish) week of term until the first day after the next half-term holiday to produce something/nothing. I've found this to be a pretty inclusive approach to 'home learning' - those children/families who want to create an enormous, living-breathing Roman city complete with roads, chariots and underfloor heating are free to do so but equally appropriate is a drawing of a toga-wearing Roman, a ticket from a visit to something vaguely Roman, a book about Romans borrowed from the library or something found on the internet and printed out.

I don't send home worksheets for completion but do send home a maths sheet each week so parents can see the methods we've been using in class - I make it very clear that it's not being sent home as compulsory homework but some parents use it as such.

In general, I feel that if the children are working hard in school then their homework needs to be playing with toys/friends/siblings etc., going to the park and having time to do their own thing whatever that may be. If they opt out of their learning during school time then I may well speak to parents about school work being done at home but it's not something I do regularly.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 03-Oct-12 22:12:52

In the context of a Headteacher that doesn't wish to involve parents, I'm not sure how on earth you go about changing things. But for what it's worth, at our school there is a Parents' Forum, which meets two or three times a term, with the specific aim of giving parents a chance to discuss issues like this with senior management. It also functions as a sounding board for senior management when they want to make changes.

We had a major discussion about homework policy last term and aired all the same sorts of issues about project-based homework.

What we have agreed is that:
- projects will be set early in each half term, to give plenty of time for completion.
- there will be a choice of different ways to tackle the project, in recognition of the fact that families have different skills, interest, time and space available. In other words, they will NOT all involve large scale three dimensional models!

So this term, DD1 is doing WWII and they have been given options which include making a model tank, cooking a wartime ration-book recipe or writing a poem. (This is Yr6). They can choose one, or more if they are really keen, and they are all of equal status.

zipzap Wed 03-Oct-12 21:15:07

Oh and as an aside...

DS1 is in Y3. he does reading and times tables and writing and assorted sums and bits of project work and number bonds etc.

But what the heck are 'operations'? And how has he got to Y3 without me even know what they are?

I have visions of a class of Y3s reading 'Biff and Chip's guide to doing appendectomies' then all scrubbing up and picking up scalpels... Moving on to amputation in Y4 and 'Wilma's Essential Neurosurgery' by Y6.

And whilst I suspect that ds would love to do this, I am pretty sure I would have heard about it before now if he was!

zipzap Wed 03-Oct-12 21:04:08

I would talk to the teacher and get them to set a time limit on the project precisely so parents can see exactly how long they are expected to spend doing helping with the project.

And whilst I was having the conversation with the teacher, I would be mentioning the guidelines (even if they are no longer official ones, no need to admit you know that in case she doesn't, and even if she does, it is still a good starting point), then pointing out the time taken up doing daily reading/times tables etc, and then say, so I can't see why you would be expecting dd to be spending more than 30 (or whatever) minutes doing this homework each weekend. At the moment she is living in stress city because she thinks she has to spend the whole weekend doing her homework and it's ruining family weekends, making everybody's life miserable etc. Also mention the negative effects of the bronze, silver and gold awards. And see what the teacher says - if she is brave enough to say, no actually I expect you to be doing 3+ hours at the weekend, and that if she wants gold then she should be spending 7 hours doing project work.

Get all the other parents to go and see her about the same thing, know in advance what you all think is a reasonable amount of homework so she can't say that you are the only one that has complained - you can say that you know that all these other parents have complained too.

And if that doesn't work, send in a letter to the head, cc it to the governor and all the other parents that you know agree with you. Get them to use the same template letter as you do and get them to cc everyone too - that way they can't say that you are the only one complaining about this.

Or, set up a facebook page and get people to put their comments about this on there. Just make sure that people realise that it is a public forum and therefore they can't slag off the teacher or make really personal comments about their own children, just keep it polite and factual. Stick a poll on there for the time that most people think is appropriate for weekend homework. And use that as a starting point to get the message over to the teacher and the head...

shebird Wed 03-Oct-12 20:43:03

Had a similar issue at DDs school. We spent the last 2 years doing endless 'project based' homework in addition to spellings and reading. However following a recent school survey they have thankfully ditched the projects and reverted to homework that reflects what they are learning at school with main focus on spellings, tables and reading. Perhaps it's worth mentioning to the head teacher and get others to do the same.

tiggytape Wed 03-Oct-12 18:35:30

snowball3 - a lot of Ofsted Inspections report exactly the same thing. When questioned, many parents express concerns that homework is excessive and far too much is set whilst an almost identical number of parents at the exact same school complain there ought to be much more and they feel their children are missing out!
Ofsted normally decides it is just the right amount in the ones I've seen but it does show how parents come at this from totally opposite angles. I know lots of parents who set their children extra homework on top of all the school stuff too.

catinhat Wed 03-Oct-12 15:26:11

The Government guidelines on homework were got rid of about 4 months ago.

They were 'guidelines' and not a requirement.

Homework for primary aged children is not a good idea - you only get 4 hours at home before bedtime in which to eat (1hr), do piano practice (1/2 hour), bath (1hr!) and play (7 hours).

My children would struggle to fit homework in in their hectic timetable of playing continuously all evening.

Thinkingchild Wed 03-Oct-12 15:21:58

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

DorisIsWaiting Mon 01-Oct-12 18:29:16

DD in Yr 3 has weekly spellings, reading and practice of tables (checked with quizes on monday morning) and alternating weeks of literacy and numeracy which consolidate the class learning. I'm happy with the lavels at the moment, although dd1 still has the sulk pout tears business sometimes she is getting better at just getting on with it.

snowball3 Mon 01-Oct-12 18:00:40

Every year our parental questionnaire asks if we have the amount of homeowrk correct. Every year 50% of parents say we have too much and 50 % of parents say we have not enough, no-one ever says we get it right!

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

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

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...

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.

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.

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.

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!

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..

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