ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.

OFSTED idea to fine parents not supporting homework

(97 Posts)
PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 10:10:35

MN friends

recently read article from Mr. Wilshaw (OFTSED HEAD) suggesting parents who don't support homework should be fined: www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/17/schools-fine-parents-ofsted-michael-wilshaw

As you know I am a big fan of homework/ practice of core skills.

I have posted many a time about how I do extra work with my DDs at home because homework at our school/ even sending guided reading books home is a very intermittent thing & the school maths curriculum/ homework is rather a disappointing chaotic affair.

Technically KS2 Upper (Years 5/6) have 2.5 hrs of homework across a week. In practice 2 hours of it is entirely unmonitored reading - and the school no longer sends guided reading books home and the library visits have been literally once a half-term (& because of computer check-out system issues - usually books are not loaned out). The remaining 30 minutes is split between an English task (draw a new cover/ write a blurb for a book/ describe your favourite character/ write a letter to a character - kind of work) and photocopied maths worksheets - usually out of Heinemann maths workbooks. DD1 usually finishes these last two tasks on a Saturday morning before her swim lesson in 10 - 20 minutes.

Here on MN I have recommended websites that through trial and error I've stumbled across and found useful. I've recommended on-line tutorials for maths.

I have asked for help when recently assigned the task of 'You need to work more with your DD1 on the author's use of language' and when I said o.k. could you clarify what you mean exactly; the teachers were unable to define what that meant or give me any suggestions (ever so professional - don't you feel?).


So my question to OFSTED - is are you going to slam schools that don't meet parents halfway.

Because I was that parent that found extra resources, put in 2-3 hours a week supporting reading/ writing/ maths with a struggling DD1 for 3 years to 'catch her up' with her peers. And without a lick of help from the school.

I am that parent that is saying hey school - shouldn't you be teaching long multiplication/ division to all of Year 5/6?

You came to our school and rated it good on the basis of a school with newly purchased moodle VLE/ My Maths/ Bug Club and all sorts of extra activities/ field trips/ clubs laid on in the run up to your well signalled visit and you haven't even noticed (nor the LEA and this is a state maintained primary) that since you've moved on - all of this has been dropped one by one - and now the school's official policy is that homework is of no benefit in primary school - and thanks to Gove guidance on how much homework should be set (which was by time/ not content) has been entirely removed.


DO YOU EVEN EXAMINE HOW LONG THESE IMPRESSIVE SYSTEMS (DEFINITELY PURCHASED TO IMPRESS YOU NOT US PARENTS) HAVE BEEN IN USE AND HOW EFFECTIVELY THEY ARE IN USE - i.e. don't just see the one person who has been trained to use Moodle, but check if it is actively being used across all years?

Or is it just about slamming State Maintained schools to force them to join the academy band wagon?

capsium Wed 18-Jun-14 10:20:54

Hmm, I do support my child in their homework but I am aware not all parents can.

It depends on the skills of the parents / their education, their maths and literacy levels and off course their time / working practices. Small children need time to play and they go to bed relatively early. Schools are supposed to teach. Homework really should be stuff a child can do independently.

The reason I support my child is that I can. I prefer very little homework and then there is more time to support my DC in the areas they need. Homework set by the school is often not really differentiated. A little bit is good, as is gives the expectation of studying in their own time. Too much and you are left with no time to concentrate on individual interests or brushing up on things your DC finds more difficult.

I really do not think teachers should be judging parents on supporting homework - we are not their employees.

capsium Wed 18-Jun-14 10:25:39

Or is it just about slamming State Maintained schools to force them to join the academy band wagon?

I do not understand how this would encourage schools to become Academies. Academies are still inspected by OFSTED, aren't they?

capsium Wed 18-Jun-14 10:33:12

Actually parents, in this respect, would be being treated worse than employees (if this went ahead which I think would be ridiculous). At least employees are paid, get training and quite often some autonomy over the work they do.

Frontier Wed 18-Jun-14 10:48:30

I feel the complete opposite to you OP, I don't think KS 1 & 2 children should get any homework other than lots of reading (their own/parent's choice of book) support with learning times-tables and an interesting home/social life which helps them to develop knowledge and skills informally.

However, whatever the aim, fining "bad" parents (however you define bad) won't work. We can't get these parents to pay dinner money or school trips, they're not going to pay fines. If it did end up in court they'd be asked to pay £1 a week or similar and none of it would have any effect on their parenting but would cost the "system" a fortune.

Chocotrekkie Wed 18-Jun-14 10:53:41

See I can understand this logic a bit but it's once again not been thought out.

Of the 30 parents in my kids clas that I know

2 families aren't native english speakers - one family in particular have very poor english. how can they help with what word is an adverb and what's not yes I had to google it too

1 family are really struggling at the mo - their business is on its knees and they are about to lose everything. Kids are helping in the business and parents are working 24/7. A large fine is really going to help their situation..

Some other parents have very low level maths and English - yes listening to the reading of a yr 1 kid is ok but helping a yr 5 with long division isnt something they can do.

I have an illness which causes fatigue. Some days are better than others. My DH is working full time and doing all the housework, running around etc. he is knackered. The kids do their homework and we help where we can but sometimes the standard isn't great.

Also they need to look at the homework they are setting. We get very vague "topic" homework - research India as an example.

Is wrapping a scarf round a doll and calling it a sari educational.

And don't get me started on building the bloody taj mahal on minecraft.

Why do they need to do homework in the first place - when I finish work my boss doesn't give me more on the way out the door to hand back next week. please don't give him ideas

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:01:23


In Birmingham we've had a spate of previously OFSTED rated OUTSTANDING schools suddenly rated needs improvement and then almost immediately converting to academy status. Once an academy they are rated GOOD or OUTSTANDING next inspection. (have a look at Kings Norton Girls School - you tell me?).

So yes I have my doubts. I think those raising their alarm/ concern over schools that were 2 years ago rated outstanding and seen on the news as exemplars of education nationally - now rated in needs of improvement and caught up in the Trojan Horse furore - does leave many here in Birmingham deeply perplexed by what exactly OFSTED is doing.


I take your point that not all parents can help for work reasons (shift workers especially have great difficulty or parents with long commutes) and also agree that some parents for reasons of language skills/ poor literacy or numeracy skills also may be ill-equipped to support learning.


Maybe it's me - but if the state (albeit OFSTED is a QUANGO) is saying

doing homework is necessary

supporting homework of students is necessary

then does that obligate the state to step in and support it in school, if home support simply isn't there?

Does it obligate the state to provide clearer guidance to schools/ parents on what makes for good homework - what homework should cover, how much time should be spent on it and, let's be real, how much parental support there should be?

Fortunately DDs primary schools don't go in for model making - but MN is littered with posts from parents who've done their children's Nelson hut model for WWII topic or helped them prepare a poster on Greek Goddesses, etc...

For my part - I would have killed for a simple worksheet of 5 lady bugs + 3 lady bugs = ? (have Y1 child draw 8 ladybugs) and then write this out as numbers. Instead we had an entire year of colouring patterns in rows of train cars or beads with no actual numbers.

Was that really good practice? Everyone got it - so first of all the homework wasn't differentiated? Secondly, marking was simply a tick in green or pink pen. No actual feedback.

What is OFSTED doing about that? What are LEAs doing about that?

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:04:12

Here's the Birmingham Mail link about 2012 inspections at Kings Norton Girls & Hillcrest. Notably the year that Parkview was rated OUTSTANDING.


capsium Wed 18-Jun-14 11:05:36

then does that obligate the state to step in and support it in school, if home support simply isn't there?

Does it obligate the state to provide clearer guidance to schools/ parents on what makes for good homework - what homework should cover, how much time should be spent on it and, let's be real, how much parental support there should be?

My answer to both these questions is yes.

However I do not think this should be the focus. The question of why our education system requires so much work to be done at home should be examined instead. Children need leisure time too.

capsium Wed 18-Jun-14 11:12:49

For my part - I would have killed for a simple worksheet of 5 lady bugs + 3 lady bugs = ? (have Y1 child draw 8 ladybugs) and then write this out as numbers. Instead we had an entire year of colouring patterns in rows of train cars or beads with no actual numbers.

Was that really good practice? Everyone got it - so first of all the homework wasn't differentiated? Secondly, marking was simply a tick in green or pink pen. No actual feedback.

The thing is some children, for a multiple of reasons might have had difficulties with either homework. This is where parents really can make a difference, they often are the ones who know their child the best. This is why I would lay less importance on homework and more importance on valuing the home environment and what it can provide. This is different to formal education. Which means valuing and respecting parents, not dictating to them. Parents have such a great influence on their children because of their bond with them. You cannot really legislate this, beyond punishing those who treat their children cruelly.

Kewcumber Wed 18-Jun-14 11:13:20

Is there any any actual evidence on the impact of doing homework on attainment? I'm interested because I support my son (in yr 3) in his homework which isn;t easy because:
a) he's very sporty and does 4 after school/weekend sports sessions b) I work so he has after school care two days a week
c) I'm a single parent
d) we have realistically 5 days to get the weeks homework (given out thursday back Tuesday) done but the take out one day of after school care means 4 days so he has to do homework at the weekend. I think at 8 doing homework at the weekend seems hard.

I do it and we juggle it all but I'd be happier if I could see some real evidence based results that show it makes a difference - I come from an era where we didn't have any home work at primary except maybe a bit of spelling.

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:13:23


At our school reading happens if I buy the books - only a few (<10) library books have come home from school since KS1 (we are repeatedly told there wasn't time to check out books to all pupils/ the computer was down).

At our school the official maths policy is NO MULTIPLICATION HOMEWORK. So learning times tables is something parents have to resource/ support without guidance or approval from the school - whose official policy is HOMEWORK IS OF NO BENEFIT IN PRIMARY. They used this website as back-up for that view: educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/homework/

Frontier Wed 18-Jun-14 11:16:19

I agree with them.

You don't need to buy books. Both my Dc's first pulled up to standing using the wooden boxes the baby books are in at the library. Now, fining parents who don't use the library, that would get my support grin

fledermaus Wed 18-Jun-14 11:24:35

Don't see the point in primary homework if it doesn't raise attainment. If they have to send homework home, it should be something children can do independently.

Petrasmumma Wed 18-Jun-14 11:28:20

This is obviously problematic the moment you consider the practicalities.
I personally find the suggestion appalling.

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:28:33

Frontier - 10 books in 4 years works out to 2 or 3 books a school year.

Our school library is not functioning. It is only open during school hours to pupils - parents can't waltz in and ask to check out a book for their child.

For many kids at our school that's it. Their parents don't use local library (doesn't help hours are rather unfriendly - as many of us have swimming/ football/ cubs on a Saturday a.m. so can only make the library after lunch - but it's closed then) & tend to work in the week.

In our case, I buy books & magazines (sadly mainly Dr. Who I fear), thus my child has access to a range of reading materials. But many parents at the school don't for a variety of reasons - including not being able to afford to.

Our school library is lovely and tidy, full of books, which sadly sit on shelves (paid for by tax payers money/ donated by parents or staff) and are in use.

So NO frontier - I DON'T AGREE WITH THEM. I think reading regularly, developing that habit of reading progressively more challenging material is crucial - well beyond Y2. I think it's a travesty our school doesn't support reading at home in KS2 by allowing children to take books home.

I get that many books are not returned - but isn't that a price worth paying. I know myself and many other parents always donate books to the school after our children have outgrown them.


I'm afraid your analogy relating using wooden boxes to help support a child learning to stand to reading a range of fiction/ non-fiction in Year 4 or Year 5 - rather lost me.

I also don't get why you support fining parents who don't use public libraries? In many cases they're closed or the hours just simply aren't convenient. In our case we parents have no access to the school library - it is not open before/ after school - at a time most suitable/ convenient to parents collecting/ dropping off pupils? The school librarian is a parent volunteer - so we don't really feel we can complain - she has 3 children to get off to various schools at home.

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:29:53

not sure what happened there but should read:

Our school library is lovely and tidy, full of books, which sadly sit on shelves (paid for by tax payers money/ donated by parents or staff) and are NOT in use.

MayhemMostDays Wed 18-Jun-14 11:35:26

What Kew and pastmysellbydate said:

Does it make any difference?
What's the point if its just tickedwith no feedback/constructive criticism?

Frontier Wed 18-Jun-14 11:40:03

I'm talking about the public library OP. From a very young age (long before school) a walk to the library and choosing their own books has been a treat for my DCs They still like to go now, aged 11 & 13. It only take 5 mins to pop in and choose a book, you can do that on the way to/from football. If they were better used they would have longer opening hours.

Books don't need to come from school. IMO it's better that they don't and I really don't like reading schemes. Take them to the library (or shop) and let them have completely free choice. If they choose books that are too easy, that's fine, they're still developing a love of reading. If they choose books that are too hard, then you read them with them.

But, if they're really not allowed to bring books home that is wrong. Are you sure they're not actually allowed? At our school the children have free access to the library and are welcome to take books home. Many choose not to.

And the fining parents who don't use libraries was a joke confused As I explained in my first post, fining parents, for any reason won't help change their behaviour. I do think most parents could make more effort to use the library, stop making excuses and that would benefit their children.

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:49:34


I am sure.

OFFICIAL school policy is guided reading books are not coming home for KS2 (Year 3 - 6) because these are purchased as sets of 6 (for work in tables of 5-6 pupils) and the school cannot afford to keep replacing full sets.

School library is not functioning - there have been many complaints. School says they cannot afford a full-time librarian and there are 'teething problems' (this has been going on for 4 years) with their computer check out system. I did suggest - why not go back to cards in books - children can sign them and teachers can collect them - thereby keeping track of checked out books. I was told by HT teachers don't have the time for that.

Local library is closing. Lovely new library downtown in Birmingham (millions spent on it). We have visited. But again - we aren't near - it would be 1 hour to get there/ 1 hour back. And our Saturday's are packed.

It is open later in the evenings - but being old fashioned - I rather prefer a homecooked meal and dinner round the table.

Amazon does make buying books easy, convenient and much cheaper - that has been our solution. We also regularly swap books with friends and visit Oxfam book store.

So again just a rhetorical question - but if OFSTED are going to fine parents for not supporting reading - what about schools?

ReallyTired Wed 18-Jun-14 11:51:09

I see little point in fining parents who may well be struggling with poverty.
Some parents have literacy difficulites themselves or they have large families or children with special needs. It can be a real battle to get a resistant child to read.

Rather than berating families for listening to reading perhaps think what you can could do to help. If you have time to play about on Mumsnet during the school day then you have time to volunteer to listen to reading.

ReallyTired Wed 18-Jun-14 11:52:20


If you need reading books for your child to practice with then try


PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:54:19


Yep - agree with what's the point comment.

For us - and I don't in anyway feel this is a good/ healthy solution - I check my kids homeworks completely.

I correct maths errors and check punctuation/ capitalisation and increasingly pick them up on spelling from maybe Y4 ish.

Again - just a rhetorical question - but is OFSTED reviewing feedback on homework/ quality of homework/ purpose of homework from schools?

Lovely to get tough on parents - gosh what a marvelous chest pounder we are.

But if OFSTED are now saying homework is necessary/ crucial - what are OFSTED doing about schools that aren't holding up their end of this bargain?

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 11:56:46

Thanks Really:

I've been posting link to OXFORD OWL for some time and have indeed used it myself. I think e-books - and many classics are now out of copyright - so free on things like KINDLE as well - are a great solution.

There are solutions out there - but in the context of fining parents for not doing enough - I think before the state education system casts stones they rather need to get their own house in order EVERYWHERE first.

And please start with our school.

PastSellByDate Wed 18-Jun-14 12:04:01

Really tired:

Not sure if directed at me - but I'm not berating families for listening to reading.

I'm berating our school for not sending books home.

I work part-time.

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