can't be 'polite' and good any longer....

(724 Posts)

ds goes to a village primary with all the subsequent over-reliance on parents wealth, education, time, etc. re: assuming sahms are the norm, money is plentiful for fanciful trips and activities, we all know how to sew up costumes at the drop of a hat etc.

that's fine. i chose to live here. however....

homework is way over the top in terms of quantity and right from day one of school. one part of homework (there is loads) is the 'learning log' which is pretended to be something children could do indepndently and consolidates learning. except in reality it is not, by a long shot.

i've put up with it and put up with and felt enslaven to doing it until today when i've had enough. this week for ds (6yo and one of the most able in his year) it says, "show me what you've learned about number bonds up to 20 and what patterns you can see". then there's a blank page.

i don't know why (because this is far from the worst that's come home) but today i've had enough and found myself writing on the page that i have no idea what the learning objective is, what outcomes they're hoping for or how the hell they see this as differentiated. i've also asked how they think a parent with numeracy or literacy problems would tackle this task and whether they would actually set this as a task in class to 6yos and expect a meaningful outcome.

there is no context, no structure, no literacy support, no prompts nothing. same as ever. sometimes the tasks don't even relate to anything they've been learning.

am i totally unreasonable or would you after a year or so be fed up too? i am (if it's not obvious) an ex teacher and i know what education is supposed to be about and this is not it. homework should be meaningful. how could a 6yo read that question and face a blank page and do something a teacher could look at and assess to see what they've learnt? they couldn't.

on top of this learning log (given on a friday and expected in by tuesday) daily reading and signing of reading book is expected plus other bits and bobs. he's 6! he's been getting this since 5 at a point where some kids couldn't even write let alone face a blank page and an open ended task and produce something yet they'd get in trouble if they didn't. this is just a test of parents surely? and an unfair one given it assumes knowledge and literacy that some parents won't have?

sorry for long random rant but help! i'm not playing this game anymore and i'm ready to speak up. it's a joke.

incidentally it's a printed label that is on the page of EVERY child's learning log in his year this week - be they dyslexic or whatever - zero differentiation. just a stick the label on the page.

thecockyfoxreturns Sun 29-Sep-13 18:17:07

I think that is quite a reasonable question to be honest, my DS is just turned 7 so a bit older than yours but faced with that he would list the number bonds so, 1+19 2+18 etc then probably say the first number goes up and the second goes down or something to that effect.

and would he manage to present that on a blank page with no lines?

and structure the sentence that explains that pattern?

thecockyfoxreturns Sun 29-Sep-13 18:19:27

And it isn't a test of parents is it, the children should just do what they can and then hand it in.
Reading every day is expected in all schools isn't it as are practising spellings.

RandomMess Sun 29-Sep-13 18:20:42

Geez op I'm with you, I mean why so much so young. One of my very able dc only learnt to read at the end of year 1.

I would at the very least expect a few examples. Also if my dc couldn't do the homework I would write that in the book.

thecockyfoxreturns Sun 29-Sep-13 18:23:57

Yes he would do that on a blank page because at school they do number bonds in the morning on a blank white board.
He wouldn't structure a sentence but would get his point across maybe say 'one number goes up one number goes down'
I really think you are making a mountain out of a molehill has your son attempted the work?

sparklekitty Sun 29-Sep-13 18:27:31 a previous Y2 teacher I would say that's a fairly effective number investigation. It can be attempted in a number of ways depending on a child's learning style, it's very open which encouraged lateral thinking and the lack of 'support' materials will mean that it will be differentiated by outcome.

I would imagine they've not given a LO as it is quite obvious (I can investigate number bonds and their patterns)

sparklekitty Sun 29-Sep-13 18:28:34

However, saying that it does sound like there is far too much homework for that age group so I'm not surprised you're peed off

sorry but don't kid a kidder sparkle - in this instance 'differentiated by outcome' means differentiated by parental input.

last week was a food diary for a whole weekend. for ds, even with me writing the days as titles and the meals as subheadings and writing the list of what he ate for him to copy (wow what a learning experience) it was a 45 minute task.

would love to see a teacher volunteer to get a class of 6yo through a 45 minute sit still and write exercise without any differentiation.

JohnnyUtah Sun 29-Sep-13 18:35:25

I would have done it with my son. Maybe that's why they're both doing so well. I dont care why - as long as they excel, that's my aim met. If other parents don't, well there you go. We went to the library and museums at that age too. Life ain't fair.

seriously how hard would it have been to give a 1,2,3 task and said for example 1. list the number bonds 1-10 2. same for 10-20, 3. can you see a pattern (and maybe add a sentence starter: 'the pattern is...' etc?

i was a secondary school teacher and i would have given more guidance and differentiation than this. it's just a joke.

spanieleyes Sun 29-Sep-13 18:36:26

No it doesn't, it means some children will begin with 1+19 and continue following the pattern, some children will write down "random" number bonds, some will draw pictures or sketches to help, some will know all the number bonds ( and some bright spark will use 20-1 as a starting point too)
All of which will show the teacher the child's understanding of number bonds.

johnny - love your assumptions. ds is VERY bright. i'm a qualified teacher, counsellor and post grad educated outside of the teaching. he IS excelling and i have no qualms about taking part in my son's education hence them having barely had to input so far.

lucky me and lucky him that i have the capacity for all that. what about the parent who can barely read or doesn't have a bloody clue what number bonds are?

spaniel they are FIVE and SIX! how much time do you spend with five and six year olds?

I agree with you. My DS also attends a village school (we lived here years before he was finally born) which sounds very similar. My DS is summer born but also has severe dyslexia. He has just gone into Yr 4 and is getting daily homework, but add to that daily reading, times tables, extra phonics and maths for him, spellings. He could do more homework in an evening than I did for O level. I have now told the school that I am prepared to ask DS to attempt 1 homework per night only. I have asked them to prioritise which one it should be. That was a compromise position from me as he is only now just starting some extracurricula activities (eg cubs, swimming) and I personally would prefer he play with his friends and enjoy that. He is just 8- we live in a selective area and I think the school's position on homework is to help kids with the 11+ unofficially. Your son's h/w sounds too open ended. Your mention of parents with learning difficulties is brilliant because it just shows how in this type of school those parents are marginalised.

thecockyfoxreturns Sun 29-Sep-13 18:40:23

It doesn't matter if parents know what number bonds are. The point is the children do and the question allows then to show the teacher how much they know in their own way.

RandomMess Sun 29-Sep-13 18:43:36

I remember having to ask my dc what number bonds are, when they ask for help with multiplication and division I run away because they have been taught different methods to me and I don't want to confuse them!

I think it depends on what happens if a child does no or little homework because they can't, what does the teacher do then?

how do they do that cocky? how much literacy are you expecting of a 6yo that they can 'show their understanding' about a mathematical pattern on a blank page in hand written words?

and how would a 6yo who can't yet write their name tackle that task? or a 6yo who has a terror of blank pages and needs word frames or some fucking clue of what's expected of them?

how does the teacher differentiate whether little billy is really bright or just has an educated mummy able to sit down with him for an hour after school every day and dictate his work?

seriously you'd give a 6yo a blank piece of paper and say 'show me what you know about number bonds' and actually expect a meaningful outcome regardless of ability level?

my teacher training was in 2001 - maybe standards have slumped since then but if i'd been observed then (or subsequently by ofsted) setting homework like this, even for a year 11 group they'd have been horrified.

missmapp Sun 29-Sep-13 18:47:04

Do you know they are all given the same? The differentiation may be that others were asked to investigate numbers bonds to ten, or given the number bonds to look at.

simple questions for work set:

what is the learning objective?

what are the outcomes?

how will you assess this?

how is it differentiated? (and even in 2001 'differentiated by outcome' as a bog standard response was seen as a bullshit cop out without some back up)

how accessible is this task to all levels of learners?

jesus they're six.

Bakingtins Sun 29-Sep-13 18:48:35

That sounds very like what is expected of my DS (6). Daily reading recorded in a diary and fairly open-ended weekend homework. We've had exactly the homework that you mentioned. He couldn't/wouldn't do it by himself, left to his own devices he wouldn't do anything, but he can do it with a bit of prompting, encouragement and discussion. I assume in the homes where parents are disengaged and unsupportive it doesn't get attempted. DS attends an urban primary with a high proportion of FSM, ESL, SEN. Isn't it an OFSTED requirement that homework is set? I should think the teachers think setting and marking it is a complete ball-ache. I imagine the world will not end if you choose not to do it or to do something you think more appropriate to your child's current interests or abilities. You seem disproportionately cross about it.

definitely given the same. all pupils the same task. all teachers presumably parroting 'differentiation by outcome' on their lesson plans if ofsted turns up.

Presumably the children have been working on number bonds in class and are just being asked to write down what they remember so the teacher can get a feel as to how much as sunk in.

I would also assume that different children had been set different homework, that those who are not yet working on number bonds to twenty, might have been asked about number bonds to 10. Presumably they are working in differentiated groups in the classroom, so the teacher can adjust the homework for the ability of each group?

The only way the teacher will know if the child is understanding lessons, is if you stop doing his homework for him. You are doing him a disservice.

BTW - ask the teacher how long they expect the homework to take - I suspect they will want to see as much (or as little) as your childcan do in around 15-20 minutes.

My reception child had a small piece of homework asking him to identify some split digraphs. I didn't know what that was (until I googled it), but he did because they'd covered it in class.

thecockyfoxreturns Sun 29-Sep-13 18:49:54

Yes maybe I expect too much, but I know that my son does lots of quick maths at school on the carpet on blank whiteboards so would not be daunted and that during those sessions they do things like number bonds.
I will ask my dad what he thinks next time I speak to him as he is an ex-head of an outstanding primary school and now a semi-retired education consultant.

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 18:51:51

Dd is 5 and does daily reading, daily spellings and a piece of homework every weekend. I would say thats normal for state schools

JohnnyUtah Sun 29-Sep-13 18:52:45

I'm not making any assumptions. I'm saying I don't want my kids' education to be dumbed down to a point where everyone and their parent can manage it. I don't see why you would.

mrscakes - nope definitely the same stock sentence on a printed label for EVERY child. zero differentiation.

absolutely cocky - number bonds are not expecting too much - a blank page and expectation of expressing your understanding of number bonds in writing without any prompts or questions or tasks etc to guide you is another matter.

incidentally spellings - if you're group one you have five words to learn, group two ten words, group three (poor ds) 20 words and a load of sentences to write.

ipadquietly Sun 29-Sep-13 18:53:54

I was in a meeting recently where other teachers were raving over learning logs. They were poring over pages and pages of pristine work that children had 'shared' and enjoyed with mummy and daddy. I inwardly cringed.

I agree, OP. Defo a middle-class thing! A bit of a competition to keep the yummy-mummies on their toes!

Good luck with your revolution! grin

ArgyMargy Sun 29-Sep-13 18:54:26

I agree with you, Swallowed. But that is our system now. When I was at primary school there was no such thing as homework, so pupils with parents who weren't interested or couldn't provide intensive support didn't suffer. It drove me mad how much homework my DSs got at that age. And parents were made to feel like shit if they didn't get it all done on time. I really don't think it has given them a better start than I had.

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 29-Sep-13 18:55:37

We did things like that because the school didn't.

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 18:55:52

I dont think its a middle class thing even the schools here which are very deprived have similar set homework

LifeBalance Sun 29-Sep-13 18:56:16

It doesn't matter if parents know what number bonds are. The point is the children do and the question allows then to show the teacher how much they know in their own way.

The problems start when the child in question hasn't understood at all or understood incorrectly.
Then they are faced with a blank page and no idea at all as to write in it. Talk about discouraging children!
And then the parents might help and support the child. Which is great in theory. Except that if the parent has no idea what number bounds are (me for example and my studies took me at master level in maths....), the it's impossible to help the child.
I've had with dc2. He tied to do something in a certain way, out of the blue, no support. Couldn't quite do it because there was some slight misunderstanding but I was incapable to explain because what was expected wasn't clear (for me as the parent and support for the child to encourage learning).

This is the issue on what homework is for. Is it for the teacher to check what the child can do with little or no parental input. Or is it about giving the opportunity for the child to get support at home on things he isn't fully confident about. Or is it a way tp push the patent to spend time with the child (ie there is no way the child can do the homework wo parental support).
We have a lot of the 3rd type in our school. You seem to have a lot of the 2nd type. Which is fine if you have a parent able to spend time with their dc to support + have the level of education adequate to do so.

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Sun 29-Sep-13 18:56:22

Homework at this age just doesn't do what it's supposed to. It doesn't consolidate knowledge learnt in the classroom, it just takes chunks out of an evening when they should be relaxing.

missinglalaland Sun 29-Sep-13 18:58:39

I think the reading record is standard. Until my daughters were both given three books a week to read to me. I then had to record the fact that they did it and try to think of a comment to make. It's silly, but with the first one, the first year in reception, I really resented it. I felt like I was being checked up on, and wondered why the teacher only read with my daughter twice a term. With the second one, I was more mellow. I realised I could just write the title and "read well" every time and that was fine.
My year 2 daughter gets a maths worksheet every Friday, which is usually straight forward. My year 5 daughter gets two math worksheets a week which is also fine. Now and then a math work sheet requires us to "play a game" or something annoying, but we muddle through.
I am not a teacher, and the open ended stuff frustrates me sometimes. Sure I understand the maths/reading etc. But that doesn't mean I can explain it to a primary child! That is a skill in itself. I'd much rather support a bit of extra practice on the basics, laid out by the teacher.

it's a nonsense. 'look at the lovely work they've done' - err no look how competitive and insecure their mum is that they've spent three days working on a learning log. tells you nothing about the child.

i'm an educated and creative person - i teach and extend my son every day. do i need to print out pictures and get a pat on the head from teacher from how neatly i (as a grown adult) can produce a piece of homework? no. and that's what they're marking - the work of insecure mummies.

cakeandcustard Sun 29-Sep-13 18:59:39

I think the OP is entirely right. My DS is in yr2 aged 6 and he gets 4 worksheets a week and two reading books which I think is an awful lot of HW for someone still in the infants.

Its not HW for the child its HW for the parent and the quality of the work will be entirely down to how much time the parent is willing to spend doing it with their child. My son does not have the nouse to be able to plan his work over a week to be in to a deadline, he does not have the inclination to do it. As a parent I have to organise his time and sit down and persuade him at a convenient time.

I don't however 'do it for him; but he does need a lot of input at this stage. That's even with worksheets that are very well structured and have tips for helpers on them. A completely blank sheet would probably be binned in our house, its not structured enough for him to engage with and I'd have got annoyed with it.

Children this age do not need HW. They spend 30 hours a week in school, I don't want the time I spend educating my young child at home to be also dictated by the school. There is more to learning than tick the box worksheets!

FWIW I am also a qualified teacher with an MA in Education.

LifeBalance Sun 29-Sep-13 19:00:30

Btw, a white sheet of paper with no line IS crap.
That's what they did at my school until I pointed out that it was impossible for dc1 to improve his presentation skills and writting when he is working a white sheet of paper.
I asked if I could use some lined paper.

Cue for the teacher to think a bit more and give lined paper for eaxch homework lol.

That was in Y2. Now in Y5 and Y6 they are all trying to teach children how to present work on a piece of paper and how to make it readable by others because.... they never had the chance to learn...

lifebalance - exactly. it is ALL type three here and the school seems to rely on it.

RandomMess Sun 29-Sep-13 19:03:04

It's ironic that YR is all about learning through play and they YR1 is formally learning with no time to play after school either!

honestly - i was a secondary school teacher and i would not dream of giving an open ended task on a blank piece of paper to the whole class (re: zero differentiation or support) EVEN to fifteen year olds.

the idea it's appropriate for six year olds is ridiculous.

it is ridiculous random. by the time we get home it's about 4 and children of this age are meant to have 12 hours sleep still so need to be in bed by 7. meant to have an hours activity each day and apparently sitting at the table together and eating is essential too and must have a bath oh and we need to fit an hours homework in too.

do fuck the fuck off. my child deserves some semblence of a life and so do i.

Dayshiftdoris Sun 29-Sep-13 19:08:35


I love you grin

I have this exact issue and I do have a child with SEN (ASD tho average attainment)...

I feel so alone with it so its lovely to read of a parent thinking of the wider class rather than 'I'm alright Jack' mentality.

I have been differentiating homework for years, creating resources & providing the 1:1 support... I am so tired of it hmm

Oh and the poster who mentioned it - we go to libraries & museums too wink

Anyway must go and create resources for 'find out as much as you can about Guy Fawkes. Be imaginative' for my child who does not do blank pages and imagination hmm

spanieleyes Sun 29-Sep-13 19:11:06

Just pop in and see the Head and say "My child will not be doing any homework".

Job done.

niminypiminy Sun 29-Sep-13 19:11:18

I thought research had shown that homework has no or negligible effect on children's learning at primary school level anyway?

Quite why, after having been made to do all this stuff all day, they should then have to come home and do more of it, when it will have zero effect on their learning, I do not understand.

Wandastartup Sun 29-Sep-13 19:12:44

Maybe you're helPing too much? My 6 year old would manage a food diary for the weekend with no help from me. I usually look at her home learning book and check she understands the question and that she has everything she needs to do it and then just make sure she's finished. I'm always in the kitchen if she has a question.
The creative ones need a bit more input e.g. Measure your garden and see if a dinosaur would fit or a 4 week homework to make something Greek...

YouHaveAGoodPoint Sun 29-Sep-13 19:12:44

I don't know what a number bond is blush

no worries dayshiftdoris smile

it stuns me they can get away with it. it simply isn't a proper task, it isn't differentiated, it doesn't specify learning objectives or outcomes and it adds sweet fuck all to the child's education if they don't have a bloody teacher at home.

bizarrely it is the most educated parents i know at the school who say 'fuck that' and leave their kids to it and refuse to spend hours doing what is marketed as a self sufficient task. we're also the ones the teachers won't really have the balls to try and make feel shit about it. others are scrabbling around trying to make it work and getting told off if they don't.

pokesandprodsforthelasttime Sun 29-Sep-13 19:15:39

My DD is 6 and gets no homework apart from reading books.

youhaveagoodpoint i believe we used to call them 'factors' - i may be wrong.

the best one recently was a 'explain what 'x' means' task - ds had never heard of it, i called other parents their children had never heard of it etc. literally the label goes in the book without ANY fucking reference to actual learning or progress.

i'd have been kicked out for such shitty work.

minipie Sun 29-Sep-13 19:17:12

Christ swallowed I'm with you all the way. I have a 10 month old and am terrified if that is what a 6 year old's homework looks like.

I was a very academic 6 year old and I wouldn't have known where to start with a completely open ended question like the one in your OP. "what patterns you can see" would probably have got me thinking about whether the shapes of the numbers made a pattern on the page. I simply wouldn't have understood what they wanted of me.

As for "find out as much as you can about Guy Fawkes" - I probably wouldn't have written anything down, after all it's not actually a question is it? (I was a very literal minded child).

Jeez. What on earth is wrong with the "write down the number bonds from 1 to 10. Can you see a pattern in the results?" approach?

oh and when did they become number bonds rather than sums?? <out of touch>

PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 19:17:13

Erm, my dd is 5 and that task would take her about 15 minutes maximum. I can understand concerns over differentiating but as you say your ds is very able, perhaps there were different homework depending on ability? However I would have expected most 6yo dc to be able to do this. Writing 2 days of a food diary seems perfectly fair enough too to me - it's only 6 meals and maybe a list of snacks - would be a handful of words under a few headings. I don't see what this has to do with being a SAHM or having wealth?

My dd's school does have half termly meetings where parents can ask to be shown how dc are being taught certain things - perhaps you can ask for this kind of thing? Homework is a chance for you to speak to dc about what they've done at school and get them to show you what they're learning. It should be a fun conversation not hassle at this age.

VodIsGod Sun 29-Sep-13 19:18:10

I just asked my 8yo what a number bond was and he looked at me like I was an idiot, then I asked my (just) 5yo to name a number bond and he listed three immediately.

I had no idea what they were! And I am a supposedly educated woman!!

Neither of my older sons get homework regularly other than reading and that's not expected every night. I remember one parents' meeting where the teachers said "if we can't teach them what we need to in all the hours they spend in school, we're not doing our job properly"....

Oceansurf Sun 29-Sep-13 19:18:37

Maybe as an ex-teacher, you should also know that legally schools have to give homework, but you don't have to do it! So don't. Tell his class teacher he's not doing it. Sorted.

I agree with you tbh. It's all getting way too much for younger and younger children. As a primary teacher, I would also say that I refused to give homework unless it was differentiated (or else, as you rightly say, what is the point). In this instance, it just sounds as though the teacher is churning out what she/he thinks she/he is supposed to do.

If it makes you feel any better, I received homework for my daughter:

"Discuss Autumn. The changes in leaves and the weather'

She's 10 months old. And in nursery.

I blame Ofsted grin

MiaowTheCat Sun 29-Sep-13 19:19:05

Why exactly have you bothered asking since you've just shouted down everything on this thread in quite an aggressive manner?

You've sat and slagged off the school from the get-go and you obviously want no constructive answers and have absolutely no intention of being "polite" and "good" so why on earth are you continuing? Just for a rant?!

Just refuse to do the fucking learning log if you've got that much of an issue about it - or rant to ofsted, LEA, governors, or stand in a corner and abuse the teacher for a good half an hour - no one on here is going to offer you any answer that actually meets with your satisfaction.

lifeissweet Sun 29-Sep-13 19:19:11

I used to teach in year 1 and I hated homework. Parents were always on my back about sending it home every week, but I always felt that it was a shocking waste of time for all involved. If it was for the purpose of assessing where the children were, then: a) it's my job to know that from formative assessment anyway; and b) I don't know if the child or the parent is completing it.

If it is for the child to practice what they've learned in class then, ok, but the time it takes to differentiate, prepare and mark it eats into time I could be doing more meaningful things. Added to the fact that the skills I really wanted them to be practicing at home were set weekly anyway - times tables or number bond practice, spellings and reading,

Those last things are quite enough on their own! I'd rather a child was reading extra books for pleasure or playing times tables games and getting secure with those than filling out a photocopied worksheet that tells me nothing I didn't already know and causes additional stress to all involved.

The learning log thing has been introduced at my school now. I don't much like it, to be honest, but there is an odd trend to do these things in order to encourage independent and creative thinking. At our last Ofsted we were told we would have been outstanding if we were giving more open ended tasks and fewer scaffolded and directed ones. I think the Head believes that these logs are a brilliant way to demonstrate this. I don't, but hey. I'm just a minion.

PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 19:29:14

Just seen your ds's spellings - my dad used to say the same. Differentiation means to many teachers that the brighter the pupil the higher the quantity. Co the brighter you are the more you get punished. (df hated school and hated parents evenings when I was younger).

If dd doesn't understand something then rather than teach her myself (where there is always the danger I'll confuse things by teaching differently) I have in the past written in her workbook "dd has no recollection of learning this - please can you revisit it with her and let me know so I can support her with it at home" - this throws it back to the teacher and our teachers ask for this feedback so they know their teaching is working.

sittinginthesun Sun 29-Sep-13 19:39:59

We all had the food diary one this term.

I think the problem isn't the actual homework, it's the way it's presented. I have a year 5, and a year 2. Every single piece of homework we have had has been explained to the child, so they can launch straight into it with little supervision. The only time I have to step in is if they get "stuck" and stop - I try and get it done in the time allowed.

Tbh, I haven't really understood ds1's maths homework for the last two years. He was doing long division in a most peculiar way this morning, so I left him to it.

In your shoes, I would raise this with the teacher. Good luck.

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 19:42:14

I think your feelings about this are fine. I loathe homework for infant children and remain unconvinced about how important it is at junior level if it is, like this, just revisiting what they will have already done in class and hopefully (at a decent school) with some level of independent input. FWIW, DD in Y2 gets nothing more than reading as often as possible (usually four or so times a week for us with the school book, though she reads her own books more often) and one sheet of ten spellings which she is not tested on but which the teacher would like us to complete. Sometimes we do it and sometimes we don't. It depends on whether I think she can spell those words well already and whether she feels too tired or not. Same as Y1 for us. It doesn't take longer than ten minutes for her to do the spellings and I mostly use it as handwriting practice and ask her to concentrate on getting all her letters neat and the right size as that's her weakest thing. She is, by the way, working very well and achieving well and has not noticeably been held back by my giving her a few nights off when she seems to need it.

What I would say, though, is that perhaps the teaching at your school is not great if an open-ended task like this isn't something your son can make a stab at alone. DD would love a task of this kind and I know from observing in the classroom that nearly all the tasks they are asked to complete have some kind of open-ended component. I just asked her what she'd do and she said she would write down all the number bonds to twenty and then write something about the numbers making patterns and how the 1 to 10 number bonds carry on through the twenties and thirties and forties etc (which I suppose is the ultimate learning objective for this, to get them to notice how the numbers work).

Uhm, number bonds are not factors. Factors are the numbers needed to multiply to get to a number, so 4 and 3 are factors of 12, as are 6 and 2. grin
As for the homework, are you sure ALL stickers are the same? You have seen them? All 30 of them?
And once you (or any parent) had read the sticker with the instructions to your child you could surely step back and let them get on with it.
Can they list number bonds to 20, how many can they list, can they spot a pattern? They stop when they have done as many as they can (or all of them). They write a simple sentence (or tell mum who scribbles on the paper) whether a patterns was found or not.
Not really that open ended.

I think you are making a slight meal of this to be honest.

BadSeedsAddict Sun 29-Sep-13 19:53:56

Really interested in this, as we hasn't really thought through the reasons behind our DCs homework ; DH is of the opinion that it should be done in order that the child get a certificate and feel included/proud at the end of the term. No huge effort is made to produce an amazing piece of work, as the DCs are pretty resistant to homework and I don't think much to it myself. Far better that they enjoy being read a story and discussing it in a relaxed way, than being forced through a banal text about something they have no interest in, because it ticks boxes for the school. Love the comment about the anxious parents trying to show the school how much effort they put in. I did that for a while with FS1, never again grin

BadSeedsAddict Sun 29-Sep-13 19:54:27

DS1, curse these fat fingers.

PuzzleRocks Sun 29-Sep-13 19:55:23

Would it make any difference if you had more time? Ours is given out Monday with the expectation it be handed in the following Monday. DD1 (y2) is enjoying her homework so far but I suspect a shorter timeframe would be a different matter as she does several after school clubs.

teatimesthree Sun 29-Sep-13 20:00:08

This is a really interesting conversation as it is challenging my own thoughts about homework.

I don't really see the problem with this sort of homework. DD is in Y1 at a very mixed inner city primary and is expected to read every evening, has a few spellings every week, and has some homework to do in a 'sounds book'. They are also expected to practice joined up writing.

To be honest, I'm pleased that the school have high expectations. However, I accept this is a bit "I'm all right Jack" as she enjoys it.

As a parent, I'd love an open-ended task like that. I find all the learning objective stuff a bit prescriptive and spoon-feeding. But again, that's just my own preference - not saying you are wrong!

Re the food diary, you wrote
"even with me writing the days as titles and the meals as subheadings and writing the list of what he ate for him to copy (wow what a learning experience)"

I agree that sounds pointless and frustrating for both of you. Why didn't you just let him do what he could on his own in 20 minutes? If he couldn't get his head round it on his own, surely his teacher needs to know that?


perhaps ds has sen or something that i'm unaware of and all teachers have been foisted into thinking him able when he is actually sub normal because he could not write all of the number bonds 1-20 on blank paper. potentially it might take him ten pages of giant letters or normal sized but sloping across the page etc.

i did say by the way that i have no idea why i've have enough tonight because given some of the tasks this one's actually alright in comparison.

to those who get it (and are happy to admit that 6yos aren't literary genius' who can write pages on their own without structure - wow normal kids, yay!) THANK YOU smile

OldRoan Sun 29-Sep-13 20:06:35

Don't call them sums anymore because 'sum' means 'add' ie the sum of 4 and 6 is 10. So a division problem isn't a 'sum'...

I teach 1/2. I set more structured homework but don't have a problem with the content of that. Did the teacher go through it with them? My main problem is that it is effectively assessing the child, but without the controlled environment of the classroom (so I would never rely on it as a piece of assessed work, because I can't say for sure what the parents/carers have done).

let's face it the food diary wasn't about ds' literacy skills it was a nosey at what you feed your kids.

and IMAGINE how the try hard, insecure, prove i'm the best mummy ever types fed their children that weekend grin

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 20:09:54

With food diary I would of said write down what you think if you have trouble I will shout out letters, but I wouldnt really sit with dd for that. Its just to see if they know their letters

spanieleyes Sun 29-Sep-13 20:10:16

Does it matter if it slopes across the paper? Or is written in numerals 2 foot high on a piece of wallpaper! Or indeed if he writes anything in words at all, if the calculations are in ascending order this shows an understanding of a pattern, if 1+9 is written near 1+19, this shows an understanding of another pattern, if 4+16 is written next to 16+4, there is another pattern, none of which needs words to demonstrate.
Just let him do what he can do, which is all the teacher wants!

teacher never goes through it oldroan and literally the whole year group (2 full classes) has the same sticker stuck in their book year in year out.

box ticking at the expense of parent and child time and more creative, constructive learning. also, imo, at the expense of real respect for the school and the teacher you know?

last parent's evening (last school year and teacher) i apologised that i didn't sign the reading book nightly and explained we found the books a bit mind numbing and i preferred to let ds read me the odd paragraphs from the chapter books i read him at night and to get him to read stuff on screen and out of magazines etc than deal with the dull as ditch water books.

all fine apparently. his story was, 'well we have to treat all parents the same because SOME parents would never do anything with their children if we didn't set all of this stuff but obviously there are much better ways for parents to support their children' etc.

in the meantime though the child shits themselves if they haven't done the homework because they get in trouble for it, the parents stresses and does it even though it's meaningless, etc etc. joy of learning, joy of teaching, natural spontaneous dialogue etc squeezed out to make way for box ticking.

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 20:13:29

If dd reads a different book just write it in the record. They dont care what you read. I really think you are reading too much into this

imagine being the child with letters sloping down a page barely legibly (re: a 6yos work) when everyone else has pages of perfection with print outs from the internet and highlighter pens and alphabetically ordered blumming points your mummy is the only mummy who doesn't think her souls worth is based on how well she does her child's homework that weekend?

mysticminstrel Sun 29-Sep-13 20:15:08

I have a DC in year one and I don't know anything about number bonds! Perhaps DD1 does though, I've never asked.

This school you mention, the village doesn't have the initials WS, does it?

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 20:16:01

How do you think the parents of children with SEN feel?

Non differentiated, open ended tasks for unsupported homework. These children might have severe fine motor skills, concentration or processing issues.

See now why parents begin to become very vocal or at least frustrated?

Remember this OP?

all of this angst at teachers because they're the ones you actually see is not on. do people actively blame nurses for the state of the nhs or the fact that their dad needs an operation and isn't getting one just because nurses are the people they see?

I think your own words might have just come up and bit you on the bum...

why write anything in the sodding book? ds can read - he's a great reader. that should speak more volumes than whether i have time or inclination to sign a parent test book on a daily basis.

mysticminstrel Sun 29-Sep-13 20:16:07

(btw - I'm not illiterate and I'm degree educated, I just don't know the first thing about number bonds. I'm sure I would educate myself via google should I need to though!)

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 20:16:58

Everyone in dds school has sloped whatever the kids have done themselves. I think its bizarre doing your kids homework.

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

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 20:18:30

Well you could say why not even have teachers write in the book. It literally takes 5 seconds.

teacherwith2kids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:19:43

Just laughing at the 'numerals 2 foot high on a piece of wallpaper'. DS - very bright, poor fine motor skills - used to do his spelling homework like that, and take it in like a scroll. His teacher and I were VERY happy when we got it down to an A3 piece of paper (bless her, she used to photocopy up the sheets every week to the maximum size possible).

On the food homework - DS had that one in Reception. DS wrote (huge, of course, with thick marker on wallpaper, I think the thing ended up 6 foot long). One of his friends did it by drawing pictures. Another cut pictures out of his mum's food magazines and stuck them on a sheet of paper. It was fun.

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 20:19:44

Couldn't but laugh at teatimesthree's "surely his teacher needs to know that?" Surely his bl**dy teacher ought to know that already, before setting the homework... grin

Let's face it, number bonds are boring. Making a ridiculously open-ended question out of them does not make them creative and interesting. If you don't know that number bonds to 20 add up to 20, then you really don't know what number bonds are. If you don't know that when adding 2 numbers together, if you want them to add up to the same amount every time, then if one number gets bigger, the other one gets smaller by the same amount... then you don't understand numbers, or adding up. There is nothing interesting or creative in any of that, really, and to cap it all, the teacher is not going to know from a 6-year old's homework what the child understands from going through their homework, because the teacher does not know who actually completed it - the child or their parent...

teatimesthree Sun 29-Sep-13 20:19:49

"let's face it the food diary wasn't about ds' literacy skills it was a nosey at what you feed your kids."

I get why you are fed up, but you sound really really down on the school. I think it's massively hard to put a brave face on it for your ds if you are so fed up with the whole set-up. Have you thought about investigating other options, or is this the only school local to you?

Sounds crap homework

Ds2 & ds3 would both have hated it.

Food diary would have been ok, but I doubt it'd been that accurate we'd have done it last minute from made up memory

stripeyslippers Sun 29-Sep-13 20:22:09

You are definitely over thinking this, and letting yourself be sucked into the competitiveness and feeling the pressure as a result.

My 6 year old would manage both the food diary (did you really have to sit and spell all the words for your able ds?) and the number bonds. But ten she is comfortable with doing what she is capable of doing by herself, as I only get involved if she is particularly stuck.

We also have a completely open-ended project set each school holiday - each child has a project book, and a loose topic is set each time (eg "the Olympics"). The only rules are that it cannot be more than a double A4 spread, and must be the child's own work. This starts from the first term in Yr1.


Seems like you want to have a bee in your bonnet about this one, tbh.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 20:23:38

Who are you a angsting at then Swallowed concerning the 'differentiated by outcome' homework?

I thought teachers were responsible for differentiation?

teacherwith2kids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:24:29

DS, btw, would have loved that homework, but his completion of it would have been bizarre, as he is wired somewhat sideways. I suspect that not confining himself to numbers between 0 and 20 in order to achieve an answer of 20 would have been the least of the issues....and the wallpaper required to start from the biggest negative number he could think of would have been excessive!

i'm not massively fed up with the school and no need for brave faces. ds is happy at school - it's fine - doesn't mean half of what's happening isn't idiotic though.

rabbitstew - exactly! thank god it is common sense to some.

and yy to the whole really bright yet fine motor skills not great (thought that was just being 6 grin )

it just annoys me and i think i'm going to go see the teacher and say look sorry but i'm not doing this crap - if you want to send me a note once a month saying what key skills, facts, processes etc you're doing and i can help with that's great and I'LL design the tasks, decide the times, tailor it to ds' ability etc myself. this nonsense one size fits all tick a box shite is pointless.

spanieleyes Sun 29-Sep-13 20:27:31

My DS2 would have loved it too, he has SEN and patterns are his "thing"

PuzzleRocks Sun 29-Sep-13 20:28:14

Swallowed how do you know the other children's is perfect? Even if it were, any teacher worth their salt would see right through that surely?
We have a "meet the teacher" at the beginning if each year and she specifically asked that parents don't take over as she will damn well know and it won't do our children any favours. She's great. Consequently I don't bother to correct even the most atrocious spellings.

would he have been cool to express that in words written down though spaniel and on a blank a4 landscape page? and would the task being printed in font 8 on a tiny label have been ok?

teatimesthree Sun 29-Sep-13 20:29:05

OK, sorry, I thought you sounded really fed up. Must have got the wrong end of the stick.

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 20:30:39

I jusy draw a few lines and sit on mn on my phone shes in a bedroom does what she wants. If its big, little, backwards etc thats just how she did it. Job done. They keep writing great work so dont think they are bothered either

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 20:30:53

-20+40=20. I like it. And a discussion on the Singaporean number bond. And whether number bonds should relate only to sums which a child can feasibly memorise, or whether number bond can actually mean any addition fact whatsoever in the world, including fractions, etc, etc.. In fact, it is superbly differentiated. You could do an entire thesis on it. grin

PuzzleRocks Sun 29-Sep-13 20:30:59

Am guilty of drawing lines on the blank pages for her though as she's a sloper like every other 6 year old.

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 20:32:29

Maybe the next piece of homework will be: "Discuss trainspotting."

it annoys me and i wondered if it annoys others puzzle. not like i am so fed up and down and blah about it just - offs what is the point and actually i think i'm fed up of pretending there's a point sort of thing. also just baffled by the utter shiteness of it given my training and knowing what homework 'should' and 'shouldn't' be.

sorry - a good moan doesn't mean i'm at my wits end or think it's the end of the world iyswim.

i'm just literally what is the bloody point of this other than to tick a box and say 'we do homework' and we have a log we can show of children's achievement (which actually logs parental time, literacy, energy and give a shit-ness as opposed to children's ability/work/effort).

just ... meh

teacherwith2kids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:33:20

Actually, though, it's not one size fits all because it IS capable of differentiation (in the same way as the food diary is capable of differentiation).

A REALLY bad homework would be a sheet of number bonds to 20 - absolute ceiling, too hard for some, too easy for others. No differentiation at all, not even by outcome.

This one, some children can write some number bonds. Others can write all the 'conventional' ones and describe the pattern in some way. Very able mathematical DCs can extend sideways into subtraction as well as addition, and to numbers outside the '0 to 20' box. And by Y2 virtually every child will know what a number bond is as they will have heard the words most days for over 2 years.

What did your son produce before you got involved (I presume that he usually has a good go at his work independently before you get involved?) When he read it, did he know what was expected of him? I appreciate that in a school with a high proportion of illiterate parents (I have taught in one), if the text was not in child speak it would be very tricky, but once you had read it out to him, did he understand what he had to do? Is it just you wanting the 'more structure' to 'get it right', or was he in fact happy to produce something if it wasn't for your concern about it?

Dayshiftdoris Sun 29-Sep-13 20:33:58

I will add that when I raised it last year his teacher was more vocal than me about the pointlessness of homework, especially the ones which 'check knowledge'...

It was astounding and brilliant to listen to her tirade in equal measures - I did the homework with him as he's 9 and have a view to secondary but she let me do what the hell I liked and always loved it grin

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 20:34:56

Sounds like a load of educational bollocks to me. You could quite realistically not do any of this at all with this age of child, and it would have no consequence on their education at all in the long run.

And yes, that's my professional opinion.

tis indeed a load of bollocks.

trouble is the pressure on them - i could say, nah we're not doing that but ds is the one who has to go in there and be the one child not conforming to the bollocks.

spanieleyes Sun 29-Sep-13 20:36:45

It says "show me what patterns you can see" not "describe in words the patterns you can see" So no writing is required. ( Although yes, he would have written an explanation, but you probably wouldn't understand a word as he has dyspraxia too!)

and how is it fair to say hey, able child here's 20 spellings and a page of writing sentences for you to do when less able child only has to learn 5 spellings. a) talk about punishing ability and b) your concentration span and ability to sit still and do a test is limited at 6. no matter how good your spelling you're still not meant to be sitting still doing a test and writing for that long at a time.


it's a blank page inviting pen and says 'show me' - how many 6yos would interpret that to mean oh i could do an interprative dance piece or draw a picture of number bonds - how the feck does one draw those anyway?

i'm pretty clever but i wouldn't want to be 'drawing' my answers on here so i'm reliant on having developed literacy skills that have a vague chance of reflecting what i'm thinking/abstract ideas/yada yada. at six - not so much.

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 20:40:50

Actually nothing would really happen if you never did it, you know.

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 20:42:28

>> the child shits themselves if they haven't done the homework because they get in trouble for it

I do think this is all kinds of wrong. At this age, homework ought to be reasonably fun. Reading and being able to write are the absolute basics because you can't access the rest of the curriculum without them. Anything over and above that ought to be completely optional and hopefully a task that children will go home and ask to do.

Last year, DD and the rest of KS1 had an extra optional piece of homework once per half term as they will this year (the others were just the reading and spelling I've mentioned earlier). They were great fun and she loved loved loved doing them. They were things like 'build a house for a mouse', 'make a timeline of your life', 'find out three facts about any country in the world and present them creatively' etc. She had a ball doing each and every one of them and was so proud to take her work in and show it to her teacher. Plus they were all completely open-ended and it was very much a case of people doing what engaged them about each task - and a child who wasn't interested didn't have to do them anyway, though there was pretty much 100% participation in a very socially mixed school. Each child approached it very differently. But they were fun things to do at home, not more formal learning. I really don't like the worksheet model of homework at all. Plus, presenting homework as a fun thing sets up good associations for the future rather than making it an awful task that you get told off for not completing. I'd be horrified to have to make my daughter do 'real' homework at this age.

If I were you, I wouldn't do it. I'd let your son do as much as he's capable of in ten or twenty minutes and hand that in. It doesn't really matter that much. Tell your son that nobody should make him feel bad about it and that it doesn't matter if he does it or not. Because at this age, it really doesn't!

teacherwith2kids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:42:34

Boffin, tbh I agree with you - I'm not a fan of homework (except for daily reading, and being read to if the parent is capable of it) at primary age BUT this one is no worse, and in many respects rather better, than normal 'fiull in a sheet' type homework.

I can understand, however, that the context is critical - if the teacher accepts as interesting anything that the child produces, and clearly values children's own work over much more beautiful stuff created by parents, then that is fine, whereas if there is a hiuge focus on spelling, handwriting, presentation, 'correctness' then there is huge pressure on parents to 'help'.

FWIW, I have never helped my children with their homework. I used to read them the task (if that was needed) and provided equipment - still have the leftovers of the biggest roll of plain wallpaper B&Q sold - space and a listening ear. Once the time was up, I'd send in whatever they had done.

cakebar Sun 29-Sep-13 20:43:46

Our school gives out these open ended tasks, only they are called challenges, and it is up to the child if they go and get one and take it home and there is no consequence if it is not done. If it is done they get a sticker from a teacher they have to go and find in playtime, who has a quick look at it. Funnily enough, given the paper comments up thread, you choose your answer paper too, plain, squared, graph, half lines with half blank or fully lined I have seen DS bring home. I don't help, my helping makes DS cross and I think the teacher should see the end result as a 6 yo would approach it.

FWIW a food diary and that number bond question would be typical. My ds would make a decent job of both with no support, but it would look messy.

My dd is not as good at reading as ds and she would need me to read the task to her. If I wasn't there to do that she would remember best she could from when the teacher read it out and go from there, which I think is fine.

PuzzleRocks Sun 29-Sep-13 20:44:19

No I get you Swallowed, I really do. I haven't had the frustration yet because DD1 in the nicest possible sense is a bit of an automaton when it comes to learning so it works for her but DD2 is quite different so I'm sure it's coming.

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 20:44:22

You'd have to be a child with an exceptionally flexible understanding of what "number bonds" and "patterns" mean to extend your work into subtraction, surely??? I thought number bonds were supposed to be simple addition facts that primary school children are expected to be able to memorise???? Is a 6-year old really going to launch into a discussion of negative numbers and the relationship between addition and subtraction (eg if 2+18=20, then 20-2=18) when asked, "show me what you've learned about number bonds up to 20 and what patterns you can see"????? And if they do this in their homework, what is the teacher supposed to do with it? Ask Mum and Dad if they spent hours doing it with him, or is he a child genius with a huge passion for homework?

teacherwith2kids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:44:43

Drawing number bonds is easy - and the less able (and without parental input) would probably do it anyway as it might well be the way they work out such things. Draw 20 dots - a group of 1 and a group of 19. Then underneath it draw 20 more dots - a group of 2 and a group of 18. Great way of showing the patterns.

FriskyHenderson Sun 29-Sep-13 20:48:02

Ach I agree with so much of this. However I have been singing that sodding number bonds song all the way through the thread and no doubt will be singing it for the rest of the evening grin

wallpaper sounds great grin imagine they'd look horrified if he came in with it though.

it's an a4 landscape book that they keep all year and a new sticker with the task gets stuck in each week. the whole thing is kept and out at parents evening, kept as evidence etc which makes it... dunno.

this has been since 5.

happily read with ds, happily explore topics, look things up, have discussions, go to museums, etc. force him to sit down and try and write above his ability, motor skills and attention span for his age is not good for us. i want him to like learning - not see it as a tick box exercise to get in trouble for.

we didn't do it one week and he was kept in at breaktime. things do happen - not to me obviously but to him/ it's a punitive exercise.

teacherwith2kids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:48:19

Rabbitstew, it depends on the child (DS, as I say, is wired sideways) and on the maths scheme used. One I have used teaches 'families' of facts - you know that 1+ 3 = 4 so you also know that 1+3=4 and 4-1=3 and 4-3=1 - as soon as it teaches any form of number bond, so the reversibility of the two operations are known by the child from the start.

DS's teacher would be well aware - as I am aware of the children in my class who would go off on extended mathematical 'riffs' of this type - that it would just be DS being DS....

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 20:49:36

Situated cognition is what kids should be doing at home at this age - helping with practical family based activities that hopefully overlap with school learning, for example working out how many sausages to buy for tea, how to draft some sort of legible letter to Santa, that kind of thing.

spanieleyes Sun 29-Sep-13 20:50:26

Children this age learn about "number families" so if 1+19=20 then 19+1=20 and 20-1=19 and 20-19=1.

I wasn't saying that ALL children would do this but, as teacherwith2kids said, this is where the differentiation and extension comes through. Some children definitely would, we have a child just gone into year 2 who is working out his multiplication and division number families to 12 x 12. Number bonds to 20 would be a doddle for him!

totally agree boffin and that's what we do. would rather be doing that than wasting time forcing writing onto paper for fear of being 'punished' if you don't.

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 20:52:34

>> if 2+18=20, then 20-2=18

I think this is what teaching maths is trying to aim at for all children, actually. Because this is showing a real understanding of what numbers mean. Memorising the facts isn't actually that useful. If you haven't understood them, you are really quite likely to forget them. There won't be that many children of six who will get this to the extent of being capable of showing their understanding of subtraction as a different way of adding up, but hopefully that's what the school is working towards because otherwise that's a dreadful school. I know that DD's school is quite explicit about the flip side of number bonds and making sure that children know that 10-3=7 is just another way of looking at 7+3=10.

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 20:54:05

Hear hear, boffin. Much more useful and more actual learning involved.

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 20:54:10

Swallowed, can you mention to the teacher homework nazi that actually you won't be doing this as you've got other educational things planned?

(It's not really aimed at your kids anyway, I bet).

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 20:55:08

The educational research is on the side of practising applied knowledge, not abstract calculations and lots of homework.

QueFonda Sun 29-Sep-13 20:55:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exactly it's aimed at parents who allegedly wouldn't do anything with their kids unless 'made to'. trouble is ds gets punished if we don't and there is a big deal of a tuesday morning about whether kids have their homework or not.

not just one teacher btw - whole school policy.

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 20:58:09

How much do you want to fight this battle?

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 21:00:17

What kind of punishment is it?

Imsosorryalan Sun 29-Sep-13 21:00:37

Very refreshing to hear this. Another teacher here and yet another Sunday morning spent doing spellings, phonics, sight words, reading, handwriting. Oh, and a worksheet full of tens and units facts. How old is my dd? 5..just.

It doesn't matter how jolly I am or how much I try to bring this shit 'alive' her little face falls when it's time to do homework. It breaks my heart. To make it worse, her teacher is newly qualified which makes him more of a try hard with the school. hmm In all fairness he does manage a WALT above the homework!

NoComet Sun 29-Sep-13 21:03:15

I'd fill it in every week with some piece of spurious crap it was obvious I'd done if they looked carefully.
Chances are they, won't look carefully, I can't conceive the teachers mark them very studiously,

Small DCs get nothing out of unstructured HW, they are totally paralysed at the thought of doing the wrong thing, doing to much or too little.

DD2 finds it really hard. Even in Y7 she had a fit at a very open ended geography project.

By Y5 or Y6 DCs who can write well and are happy with maths concepts will happily do this sort of thing,if the requirements are clear. But not at 6 and never if the question is vague.

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 21:06:58

Yes, I'm quite sure that teaching maths is trying to aim at all children understanding that if 2+18=20 then 20-2=18. However, my mind boggles when trying to understand the point of homework asking the child to "show me what you've learned about number bonds up to 20 and what patterns you can see". It's so open ended, it's impossible to tell whether the child has shown you everything they understand about number bonds or the bare minimum, and leaves the child open to drawing you the pattern on their mother's favourite dress, because the question doesn't specify that the patterns seen have to relate to number bonds. In what way does a teacher really benefit from an uncontrolled piece of homework with either boringly predictable results or a completely off-the-wall piece of homework? And in what way does the child benefit? If it really doesn't matter how they interpreted the homework, then what was the point of the homework? To give them something to do if they were bored?

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 21:12:37

Well, I don't personally think that homework at this age is of any use at all, bar a bit of reading as often as you can fit it in. So I'm completely in agreement with you there. And I'm pretty sure that 99% of bored children could come up with something to do that they'd enjoy more than that. However, it is true that this homework is probably aiming at something important and good. But they haven't made it fun, they haven't made it something that parents would enjoy doing with their kids and they haven't made it something that children would actually ask to do. So massive homework fail from my marking scheme.

Mytholmroyd Sun 29-Sep-13 21:15:49

Agree with boffinmum - I have to teach students coming out of British schools into university and without any shadow of a doubt I would take a Finnish/Swedish student undergrad or postgrad over a UK one any day - and they don't start formal education until 7 in Finland.

All this stupid homework for primary kids is pointless - I didn't do it and my adult children didn't do it and we all still got into the university of our choice with As at A level. They should be playing and doing other stuff at that age.

My DS is at primary and I refuse to do his homework for him - If schools aren't teaching children everything they need to know during the school day they are significantly disadvantaging the children whose parents can't or won't help them - as others have already mentioned. so if he can't understand it it's tough - it doesn't get done. Won't do him any harm at all in the long run. He will still get into whatever university he wants to go to.

It makes me very cross that parents are made to believe they are failing their kids if they don't do hours of homework every week. I dont know when this became received dogma - I don't think there is any educational research that shows it helps and some countries are considering abolishing it for secondary schools as well.

The lengthy and patronising instructions on how to 'help your child learn' that the school sends home are frankly laughable - they go straight in the bin. My 7 year old DS learns all the time not just through school work - he can can do algebra, scientific notation and geometry - because he likes maths - his 'number bonds' homework is pathetic and only shows his teacher is ticking a box as he has no idea what the kids actually know.

Glad I got that off my chest! grin

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 21:18:46

Mytholmroyd - now that is where your ds is going wrong. He should be able to turn his open ended number bonds homework into a showcase for his talents in algebra and geometry. grin

NewNameforNewTerm Sun 29-Sep-13 21:39:38

Last parental feedback questionnaire we sent out asked questions about our approach to homework. A third of parents thought we've gave too much and a third thought too little and the rest said it was about right. I was astounded at how balanced the percentages were ...

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 21:45:52

How many of the forms did the school 'receive' back?

Not a very high proportion of parents at my DC's school filled them out. Made the results a bit meaningless. Had to read between the lines though...on skim reading alone the results seemed very positive.

Uppatea Sun 29-Sep-13 21:46:24

'The homework myth' by Alfie Kohn is a good read for anyone interested in research on this subject.

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 21:49:52

I remember when DS1 was in Reception and Y1 one of the mothers took a job as a TA in his class.

We were suddenly bombarded with flash cards, little reading kits, counting kits, homework cards and all sorts. All made out of card and sticky backed plastic, tucked into little tins or brown envelopes. We were required to take these things home, use them to teach our kids to bark at print, not lose any of the tiny pieces, etc.

This TA mother spent ages using them with her own kids, and a few of her cliquey friends did as well. Their kids all got really good at doing the flashcards and so on. The rest of us couldn't be arsed. She got shirty if the rest of us ever began to let on we didn't like using them.

So ten years later, how are they all doing?

There seems to be an inverse relationship between KS1 homework and academic outcomes. For kids in this village, anyway.

There is a different factor at work. The kids who are doing best are the ones with professional mothers, and the ones doing least well are the ones whose mothers left school as soon as they could and stopped studying. The child of the TA is kind of plodding along in the middle.

This tells me that we should spend our time educating mothers rather than faffing about getting them to wave flashcards at their kids and fill in spurious homework sheets. But what do I know? I'm just an educationalist! wink grin

NewNameforNewTerm Sun 29-Sep-13 21:51:34

We got just of 75% response.

NewNameforNewTerm Sun 29-Sep-13 21:52:52

From 390 pupils ... I was surprised at the response.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 21:56:33

BoffinMum Your theory is depressing.

If that were the case we could never escape from our parent's success or lack of it. So much for social mobility...

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 22:03:00

It's not just a theory, though, is it? There is a lot of research that says that the biggest factor in a child's educational attainment is the level of education of his or her mother. Obviously that doesn't mean that a bright kid with a less educated/involved mother can't do well for themselves. But it makes it harder for him or her.

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 22:04:11

Ancient, actually it's not just my theory (although I was amused to see it play out under my nose), it's sociological theory and pretty well established. It's why we got rid of grammar schools etc. and tried to ensure all kids got a similar academic programme via the National Curriculum. Because otherwise people just do end up replicating the paths of their parents more often than we would like.

However the fragmentation of the state sector risks changing that. I am not saying people shouldn't get some choice in how they educate their kids, but if it means undermining the fairly decent level of social equality we were starting to move towards, then I think that's terribly disappointing.

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 22:05:26

Herrison, it is so incredibly hard for the offspring of the undereducated to change their educational destiny, that it breaks my heart.

Periwinkle007 Sun 29-Sep-13 22:05:40

the problem is that if parents don't value education then it is very hard to convince a child that it is WORTH something.

Don't you just scribble a load of made up logs in the reading book the morning the books are due to be changed like most parents?

I'm pretty sure I would just leave the homework to my kids and tell them they just had to fill the blank page with pretty much ANYTHING he found relevant.

For that, ds would draw some fractals and dd would probably do a print of all of her fingers and toes and then glue glitter onto it.

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 22:10:23

>> Herrison, it is so incredibly hard for the offspring of the undereducated to change their educational destiny, that it breaks my heart.

I am completely in agreement and so is my heart. It is a terrible thing and so very hard to change. But this is why I love the homework that my DD's school sets because it is not aimed at ticking a box or practising a skill. It is aimed at getting parents engaged in doing an enjoyable task with their children and hopefully talking about it and having a bit of fun with it. This is what most educated mothers do without even thinking about it, isn't it?

BoffinMum Sun 29-Sep-13 22:11:05

But if the school experience is a good solid one, that levels the playing field. But if you are relying on parents to do the teaching indirectly, via homework, you immediately disadvantage the offspring of families who aren't educated already.

Germany found this - about 10 years ago it did pretty badly in the PISA tests because basically it had developed a system that assumed a non working, German educated mother would be sitting at home waiting to give all kids a hot lunch and then coach their homework all afternoon. However they have an economy predicated on immigration, and the children and grandchildren of these immigrants were doing pretty badly at school. So they fell down on international tests really badly. It gave them quite a shock as they hadn't realised the disparity on their own doorstep.

Mytholmroyd Sun 29-Sep-13 22:12:05

grin Rabbitstew! I'm not that pushy mum! I don't care enough and at 7 neither does he! If he was my first I might but have a different longer term perspective with three older kids I suppose. One of them didn't read until she was 8 but that didn't bother me either - she's caught up now. Kids develop at different ages.

It worries me that my DSs school seems to be subtly sending out the message that it's the parents fault (not the schools) if the child isn't progressing and frightening them into doing loads of work at home in the belief that it is necessary or their child will fail in life.

noblegiraffe Sun 29-Sep-13 22:15:00

Maths teacher here, agree you are correct and this homework is bollocks. It isn't open ended at all and doesn't invite you to go off on a glorious exploration of negative numbers, it asks you to repeat what you have learned at school.

The teacher clearly expects a neat list of number bonds, in order. This would make the next question, about pattern spotting, make sense.
The child who only remembers a few number bonds or who doesn't write them in order is going to be a bit stuck looking for patterns where none exist. Waste of their time.

If the teacher wants that outcome they should have asked 'list all the number bonds to 20, from 1-20 in order. Describe any patterns in the numbers you can see in your list'

Or, for an open ended task 'list pairs of numbers that add to 20. Can you think of any that aren't between 1 and 20?'

MerryMarigold Sun 29-Sep-13 22:15:18

As a parent (not teacher trained), I think a little bit of homework (20 mins a week) from Y1 is good. It opened my eyes to some of my ds1's difficulties in comprehension of problems, writing, focussing and then be able to address them in parents' evenings. Sadly, these days teachers a. get sidetracked by v big classes and children with considerable learning difficulties and b. have to be so positive all the time that it's hard to actually deal with issues head on.

Homework helped me to deal with the issues.

Agree though, that this homework was rubbish in the way it was set.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 22:16:10

The assumption that this will happen does not help either though. Assessment is not exactly objective. Aspirations held about children that can affect their attainment can include teacher's aspirations. These may affect achievement even more since it is teachers and schools who provide children with educational opportunities.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 22:18:02

^ my last post refers to the link between children's attainment and that of their parents.

Cross posts.

Mytholmroyd Sun 29-Sep-13 22:22:13

The other problem with outsourcing and expecting parents to pick up the slack is that we will never narrow the divide between state and private if we don't deliver a complete education to state educated children in the school day - can you imagine the private school that tells parents their child won't be properly educated unless the parents do a load of homework with them?

Herisson Sun 29-Sep-13 22:28:54

I don't think it's a state/private school thing, actually. It's a good school/bad school thing. I was educated privately from the age of 11 and my excellent private school encouraged children and parents to tell the school if any homework task was taking longer than twenty minutes as this would indicate that more support was needed. We were explicitly told never to spend more than twenty minutes on anything we'd been asked to do and to tell a teacher if it had been unachievable in that time.

NoComet Sun 29-Sep-13 22:31:22

I would love to sit the Ofsted inspectors who want more open end and creative HW in the tiny stuffy SN cupboard* for a day and get them to help selected pupils do these sorts of open ended tasks.

They can have my dyslexic DD1 who will talk the leg of a donkey, but write nothing and DD2 in one of her take everything literally and refuse to do anything in case it's wrong moods for starters.

Children need direction and they need scaffolding, only very very bright and confident DCs and very low ability DC who are used to writing things in a haze of confusion don't panic at the sight of a blank sheet of paper.

NoComet Sun 29-Sep-13 22:35:10

*the One to one TAs room was an old cleaners cupboard, it was still used to store piles of junk, but it had a window and a door for privacy.

It was therefore better than being stared at in a very dark corner of the cloak room.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 22:36:15

StarBall Scaffolding. That is the only reason I am actually thankful for this kind of homework. It gives me the opportunity to help my DC provide their own structure for more open ended question, tasks. Find the questions inside the question so to speak I don't think they actively teach enough of this kind of skill.

'*the One to one TAs room was an old cleaners cupboard, it was still used to store piles of junk, but it had a window and a door for privacy.'


What on earth was the 1:1 room FOR? I hope the child was never expected to go in there away from the classroom?

curlew Sun 29-Sep-13 22:43:44

"how does the teacher differentiate whether little billy is really bright or just has an educated mummy able to sit down with him for an hour after school every day and dictate his work?"

The way education works is to differentiate between kids whose parents give a shit and kids whose parents don't. Depressing and wrong but true.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 22:46:33

Actually a lot of the homework received since starting primary does seem to be less about reinforcement and more about learning what is fairly new content. Or maybe my DC weren't entirely paying attention.....this is why I ensure it is done. Don't want them to be at a disadvantage. Hate the thought of DC staying in a break too!

rabbitstew Sun 29-Sep-13 22:50:45

Homework is designed to find out which parents enjoy making mouse houses with their children. Apparently.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 22:58:29

It is annoying when they are left to do so much independently and fun in school. Independent reading at school versus parent has to hear them read at home. Calculations at school versus written multi maths problems / at home. Fun Friday and fancy dress at school versus handwriting practice at home. Designing games at home to play them in school.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 23:00:08

^ I think parents have been had, haven't they?

Not me. I now refuse to do homework with my children on the basis that it destroys our relationship.

I made this vow after a particularly distressing time trying to make Elmer the Fecking Elephant out of a Milk Bottle Carton.

Mytholmroyd Sun 29-Sep-13 23:46:38

But that's my point Herisson - a private school (and good state schools) will take the responsibility for ensuring they provide the support and teach the children irrespective of parental input - that's what parents pay them to do. State schools should do the same - or they disadvantage the very children who need it most.

I don't want teachers wasting time setting and marking homework - I want them to teach my child!

parents have been had. school wants to do the fun stuff and claims they can't teach handwriting or timestables because it's too dull for kids to sit still and learn in that fashion yet sends home homework that is ridiculously sit, still and write for eons.

boffin - not sure how much i want to fight this.

i've hidden the learning log because i wrote so much on the page about how i couldn't see the point of the task, it was inaccessible for even an able child at 6, i couldn't see what the objective was or what outcome they were after or how it assessed anything other than my ability to teach my child, asked how a child with parents with literacy/numeracy issues would access the task etc etc.

may just bin the book and send in a letter saying we won't be doing it anymore and if they want to know why i'm happy to come and explain blush

i am so relieved that other parents feel the same way and others, including teachers, can see how stupid this task was. i promise it is fairly typical (though not the worst by far) and i swear this is a printed label that goes on the book of every single child in that year group on that week each year. and yes if they don't hand it in they get punished by losing a break time.

an interesting one lately was the news that children who were late to school would be made to wear a late sticker all day. wtf? how does a 5 or 6yo have control over getting to school? they are using the shame of the child to try and get to the parent. not on.

oh and i didn't pay the voluntary payment for some half arsed activity they decided to do in school at a ridiculous price and ds actually came out of school with a sticker stuck to his jumper saying i hadn't paid! i kid ye not!

rabbitstew Mon 30-Sep-13 08:15:14

I'd make a formal complaint about the stickers.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Sep-13 08:17:03

I think if people are finding their children are being plastered with stigma stickers, or even other people's children, it would be perfectly reasonable to voice an objection. This is terrible educational practice, absolutely terrible. It's a complete misreading of the Ofsted attendance drive, in the case of lateness, for example.

ArgyMargy Mon 30-Sep-13 08:17:30

Swallowed, I think you should get yourself onto the Governing Body. Assuming you will be using the school for some years to come. Some of these things you describe horrify me.!

ancientelm Mon 30-Sep-13 08:24:51

I think what has happened, as a result or arguing over 'standards' is a blame culture. Blame the government, blame the LAs, blame the SMTs, teacher, blame the parent or worse of all blame the child....with the resulting punitive measures. Then you get the resulting evasive / defensive actions in order to avoid accountability.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Sep-13 08:33:18

It's nothing new, Ancient. You get this where you get poor leadership and management.

i think it's the cocoon effect of being a village primary tbh. it's like going back in time. there is also a worrying 'girls are nice and boys are naughty' kind of ha, ha culture that makes my teeth itch.

likewise things like sending home a letter saying on date x we're going to see father christmas and that'll be £15 please and the children have already been told and are all excited. no thought that you might be a jehovah's witness who doesn't celebrate christmas at all etc.

likewise the little notes saying your child needs costume x by friday just use an old sheet and sew it into a tunic and stitch tinsel to the top and bottom. those leave me speechless - the assumption i can sew and that i have the time around working and everything else to do a bit of dressmaking at the drop of the hat irks me.

i think schools with very easy intakes have a tendency to be complacent tbh and rest on their laurels knowing the majority of the kids will come into school already knowing their phonics and numbers for example. what i feel for in this schools is those children who haven't got all that because the school can sort of let them drift knowing it won't effect their results that much and as it's just a few they can see it as the normal range of ability rather than a group who aren't getting taught at home and the school relies on that happening.


i did make a complaint about the 'you haven't paid yet' sticker btw - they seemed to think i was massively over reading it whilst i was saying, you literally labelled a child.

they're just... behind the times i think.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Sep-13 09:31:02

I think there is a lot in that. I pulled mine out a village primary because the attitudes were so sleepy and the teachers were coasting so much - many if them seemed to take astronomical levels of sick leave too, so my kids spent loads of time colouring in worksheets given to them by supply teachers. I was amazed Ofsted gave it a 'good' tbh. I know some parents had complained in writing (including us) but Ofsted decided to ignore the complaints, in its wisdom. They shredded them immediately after the inspection so the complaints couldn't be revealed under FOI. All rather inept, I felt.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Sep-13 09:33:06

I should add we sent them to a more urban primary up the road, and the difference in children's progress and staff sick leave uptake was staggering. But there was a much more able head there, and she was well regarded by the other heads - a good sign.

musicalfamily Mon 30-Sep-13 09:55:29

We are having/have had exactly the same issues in a village primary and I agree with everything that has been said on here.

The issue about moving the children is that I have lost faith in my ability to judge whether a school is effective or not (had done all my research before moving here and spoken to a lot of parents) and I would loathe to move the children just to find more of the same.

ancientelm Mon 30-Sep-13 10:09:10

Similar issues here too.

I conform just because I don't want my child to be punished or fail. sad

Like musicalfamily says I expect we would get more of same even if did move and DC settled now.

Compounded by being given a Statement of SEN, although academic ability is good and can concentrate well at home and behaviour is quite easily manageable too.

Very difficult to get the school to account for what provision, as detailed in Statement, actually has been receiving since there was no adequate Provision Mapping made available.

You do end up questioning the quality of teaching, assessments and reporting.

You also end up having to spend a lot of time supporting homework at home. Even though they end up being able to work independently in a task, often you have had to explain how to tackle it beforehand. So that is rather like teaching at home isn't it? Or at the very least 'picking up the slack'. I think there probably is a very distorted view going around about how 'average' or 'normal' children learn.

ancientelm Mon 30-Sep-13 10:18:41

^At the SEN level it can affect how easy it is to work outside the home (would that affect child's attained? If you are not working are you still considered professional?) as well, with multi assessments to attend and multi professional meetings.

Supporting the child at home is all the more important, if you feel there might be more hurdles to jump over in order to achieve well from the 'get go'.

ancientelm Mon 30-Sep-13 10:19:55

^should be 'would that affect a child's attainment?' - typo.

Faux Mon 30-Sep-13 12:39:56

Interesting thread. We get these open ended homeworks and I struggle to guide DD in a hands off way, a blank page is daunting for a small child.

ancientelm Mon 30-Sep-13 13:01:49

Yes. I think it is something a lot of adults find difficult to cope with, writer's block, stage fright, analysis paralysis, risk aversion, yet our children are expected to cope without a great deal of support....and further more punished if they don't come up to scratch.

CheeringBell Mon 30-Sep-13 13:35:25

I'm fed up of homework already too and Ds (5years) is in year 1. They are supposed to read their reader each night, practice spellings, practice slight words and then we have the "homework project" which is loosely linked to their current project.

The hardest part is choosing a task I think she could do, then explaining it and motivating her to do it. Most of the time it's just her copying down stuff that we have found out on the internet - such as facts about another country. It feels like an elaborate handwriting exercise which she really hates. It is a shame as she loves writing out random sentences, making up stories and practising what she has been doing in class. I fear that this extra contrived stuff will kill any enthusiasm for learning. Although the school has been classed as Outstanding and has above average test results so maybe this extra stuff does help. It just seems like too much.

PiqueABoo Mon 30-Sep-13 14:02:48

I think I'd like to nominate swallowedAfly's original and follow-ups for Post(s) of the Month. Does anyone have a sticker for that? smile

LifeBalance Mon 30-Sep-13 15:51:31

Well I have to say. I don't want a nice little homework to do with my child as a nice and pleasant exercise. Because tbh it will NOT be a pleasant exercise at all. Talking with my dc about such and such subject is. Just as it when you answer their questions.
So between me and DH we have taught dc1 column addition, column multiplication and long division much before they did at school. Because he was asking.
But when the homework is about writing a piece on one subject (eg the Romans) with no indication as to what, do a poster and some research on the internet with a child that isn't reading fluently enough to do some search on the internet, then this is not just 'pushing' parents to do something with their child. It's asking them to spend 4 hours of their weekend for something that isn't that relevant.
Can we just say 'No not doing it'? Of course not. The children then presented their poster to the class and they put marks on each other. Cue for the fancy done by mummy PowerPoint show to get the best mark and the one who was done entirely by the child to be looked down.
And if course it us also detrimental for the children self esteem. Because they compare themselves to this beautiful art work, think that what they did is rubbish wo realising it wasn't little Johnny's work.

Well I'm back as recent posts again reflect my experience. DS primary is again very much girl play good, boy play bad. Terrible really as young boys need rough and tumble as any good nursery worker will tell you.

I also have this with the homework that DS may be able to do it eventually but only after I have spent ages explaining what is required. It is so stressful and for what I really don't know.

Interesting about Ofsted destroying complaints - so surprised they are allowed to do that. We have a very corrupt administration in this country - not for personal financial gain - but to ensure that the system they want will be imposed at all costs. I currently campaign for flexible start dates for summer borns and that gets vicious at times sad

thank you all for your comments.

the initial few, 'well my child is 7weeks old and she could do this with blindfolded and writing with her toes because i take her to museums' type posts were despair envoking HOWEVER as usual the common sense, 'real' and honest mainstream of mn redeem the place smile! i may write it on his head.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Sep-13 20:11:13

Indeed. From my MN name you may have guessed I am v v clever by anyone's standards. But could I have written a page about number bonds at the age of 6? Could I hell. In fact I clearly remember at the age of 7 being asked by the teacher to write 100 words on any topic I liked, as she wanted to see what my reaction was, and I had no idea whatsoever what to do. Fortunately for me, the teacher told me not to worry and said as a treat I could sit in her stock room and read anything I liked for as long as I liked. (I think she had probably read A S Neill's book on Summerhill or something). I spent the rest of that year doing that an awful lot, and surprise, surprise, I now get paid to sit in cosy rooms and libraries and read books for a living. How astute she was, to see what real learning was, and where my inclinations truly lay, and how sensible of her to remove the source of the panic for me.

We must hang on to the fact there is practically no correlation with formal homework and long term educational outcomes at that age.


joy of learning is what i want him to have and i won't have it destroyed my mindless tasks.

BoffinMum Mon 30-Sep-13 20:27:52

There is another way to see this.

In the Education Act it specifies that parents have a responsibility to make sure their child receives an education 'suited to his age and abilities'.

You can read this as having a responsibility to resist the attempts of others to sabotage this by making kids do things that experts agree are not in their best interests. You would actually be hard pressed to find an expert of any ilk who said that ploughing through sheets of homework at the age of 5 or 6 was a good idea. Ergo, the law requires you to disregard the instruction. Sort of. wink

I am naughty, encouraging this, aren't I?

teacherwith2kids Mon 30-Sep-13 20:46:24

I suppose I am just struggling to understand why this task is SO mindless, especially given the alternative in many schools is the 'here is a 3 way differentiated worksheet' which really IS mindless (in the sense of being unlikely to excite anyone at all) although it would meet your criteria for clarity, scaffolding and differentiation.

It can so easily be subverted to create a genuinely interesting task that it seems an odd one to get so het up about. I can see that DD - whose brain is wired up more normally - would have needed a pointer as to HOW to subvert it, whereas DS would just have naturally gone off on one. Why not just subvert it to make it interesting to your child, if you are going to get involved?

[You would probably blanch to know that I used to set a homework in which I asked children to show me all the ways that they could think of to make 12, with a couple of ways to make their answers more mathematically interesting if they wanted to take them up ... though tbh that was a game - obviously with different numbers - that we used to play in Maths lessons regularly and so the children understood it very well. Answers - very, very few aided, because it wasn't the type of school in which parents helped with homework - varied from answers of the 10+2 variety (or 1+1....etc) to the '2012 -2000' to '-12 + 24' or '144 / 12']

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Mon 30-Sep-13 20:51:08

Am completely gobsmacked about the stickers for children who are late / haven't paid for something! If I'd had that experience I would have gone ballistic.

I also don't know what number bonds are, and I too am highly educated... There's just no way into that question if you as a parent don't know (yes, of course you can google but it's not supposed to be your homework) and the child can't do much or remember. Great for those who will just reel off what they were told in class, no good for those who can't.

cloutiedumpling Mon 30-Sep-13 21:40:31

I loathe and detest the poster projects that DS's school sends home. They are always on very loose topics and rely on the parents to do the "research" as the kids are too young to do it alone. We don't have much family time to spend together at the weekend and I really resent having to spend some of it on these pointless tasks.

eddiemairswife Mon 30-Sep-13 22:04:44

It is a comparatively recent trend for homework to be set in state primary schools. The Blair government started it by saying it was beneficial and it enabled parents to take an active part in their children's education. I'm thankful my children didn't have any. The request which has struck dread into my heart in recent years has been," Mum, could you have Tiny Eddie on Saturday? He'll be okay as he's got his project to do!"

rabbitstew Mon 30-Sep-13 22:39:24

Unfortunately, all this "enabling" parents to take an active part in their children's education via their homework seems to have resulted in some parents actively doing all their children's GCSE coursework for them, if newspaper reports are to be believed... Once you've started, it would seem, you can't stop grin.

PiqueABoo Mon 30-Sep-13 23:19:45

@BoffinMum: "Ergo, the law requires you to disregard the instruction. Sort of."

The flaw with that cunning plan is that it assumes the person you're trying to convince can follow and will act on the logic, as opposed to stubbornly cling to some recipe they have for homework.

NoComet Mon 30-Sep-13 23:21:00

I'm all for HW that is more interesting than work sheets, but I can't see how you get a six year old to do the soaps example, except by doing it for them.

Fine for DD1 who'd watch, say I get it and write it down.

Hopeless for DD2 who actually wants to be independent, but still certain she's doing what the teacher wants at the same time.

She has no concept of "this is a possible answer to the question" it has to be the answer the teacher wanted

If you said "Write out all the number bonds that make 20 and sort them into a pattern" she'd get it instantly.

Frustratingly, DD2 won't accept me rewording the question, it has to be the teacher.

She has no concept of best guess, it has to be exactly right.

We had endless grief over a Geog project where she refused to add any of the extra stuff we found because it couldn't be too detailed she was only in Y7 (set sodding one of year 7 and she understood it and is a quick writer, but no it wasn't going in).

NoComet Mon 30-Sep-13 23:22:51

Not because she was lazy, but because she wasn't sure the teacher wanted that much.

friday16 Tue 01-Oct-13 08:48:10

seems to have resulted in some parents actively doing all their children's GCSE coursework for them, if newspaper reports are to be believed

Problem of the past. Coursework at GCSE has been replaced by Controlled Assessments under quasi-exam conditions. It's not a complete cure, and there's some hideous gaming going on, but it does reduce some of the problems. Anecdotally, parents were also doing the coursework badly.

There's still take-home coursework at A Level, which strikes me as equally ripe for abuse, but the volumes are much lower and the marking more audited, so I suspect that it would be easier to detect problems.

thegreylady Tue 01-Oct-13 09:15:55

The most appalling part of this saga is those stickers! That goes against every sound educational practice I have heard of. I am sure there are good and bad village schools and urban schools and inner city schools but discrminatory stickers are just wrond. I'd be sending a sample to the local paper and to Ofsted.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 01-Oct-13 09:19:08

DS2 has differentiated targets drawn up for each child using their APP grid to identify skills not yet mastered. What could possibly be wrong with this?

Well, DS2 is currently undergoing ASD/ADHD assessment and so his current targets are for him to not have manifestations of ASD/ADHD.

Hence his literacy target relates to understanding inference (SALT assessment in July 2013 put him on the 4th percentile). Good luck with that one. If he 'got' inference he would not be suspected of having an ASD.

He also has to 'take responsibility for concentration and attention'. He has lost golden time for getting out of his seat. His problems are sufficiently severe for medication to be suggested prior to any diagnosis. He is 7.

The only way he can meet targets is to not have ASD/ADHD. Only if he fails, repeatedly, over several years will it be eventually accepted that these behaviours are symptomatic.

This does huge damage to self-esteem and perception of self as a learner. ASD/ADHD does not give the child immunity to failure. DS2 is placed at an OOC indi ss, where in addition to meeting his needs, counselling staff have to try and unpick the damage whilst there is still time.

We can't do homework at the weekend when DS1 is home and so we have to fit in what we can in the mornings before school. I am not doing this because I think homework is beneficial at this age. In fact, in DS1's second school expected parents to do key things (such as teach times tables) so that the school essentially tested the children on what their parents had taught them out of school. Outstanding village school.
The irony is that output in the classroom is minimal and yet he is expected to do more work at home than in an entire week. I select what I think will be most useful just to illustrate/demonstrate that DS2 will engage if a token reward system is used.

I think the issue of parents teaching and the use of tutors (rife in DS2's school) distorts how good the teaching of the school is as attainment only partially reflects school teaching. DS2's school want to attract more m/c parents to that they can claim to produce 'level 6 mathematicians' despite their teaching being assessed as 3.

Arriettyborrower Tue 01-Oct-13 09:43:32

OP I agree with absolutely everything you say, my ds is also 6 and we had a presentation on sats last night.....
Well, having been there twice steady with older ds's my opinion is well formed on that particular government performance measuring exercise. But the other parents who were demanding homework/supervision/support to get their children through it - this just perpetuates and creates pressure on the children.
I do very little of the homework ds gets as it makes no sense, we do other things at home instead. His head teacher actually thinks in a similar way and they have change the way homework is presented for this year. However this has caused great consternation and parents are asking for more structure and more work! Arghhhh!
In the past I discussed with the teacher that we won't be doing certain aspects of homework and why. They were fine with it.

soorploom Tue 01-Oct-13 21:18:17

thinking this is a scary kind of thread.
thought the idea was that the children could answer questions in the learning log in any way they can.
I know that my ds 6yo sometimes will just draw pictures especially if tired and not keen to write.
in a similar type question he used dice (die?) to make up a few sums because they did this in class
I don't think the learning log is about showing your abilities or opinions op,

soorploom Tue 01-Oct-13 21:21:35

good grief my computer has just caught up and now realise that there are billions of posts so mine probably not relevant any more..........slinks off to the virtual pup in chat, anyone with me/

soorploom Tue 01-Oct-13 21:22:23

no no no virtual pub not pup oh dear

curlew Tue 01-Oct-13 21:25:00

I don't understand why this is considered such a mindless task.

If a NT 6 year old doesn't know what number bonds are then there are bigger problems with the school than the sort of homework that's being set. Just because adults don't know what they are doesn't mean children don't.

teacherwith2kids Tue 01-Oct-13 21:26:40

Soorplum, tbh I think that your post is more relvant than many...

ancientelm Tue 01-Oct-13 21:35:24

curlew yes there are problems. They have not being taught successfully...for whatever reason.

Mytholmroyd Tue 01-Oct-13 22:34:28

I think, Swallowdafly, there has been an insidious shift since my eldest DDs (now graduated/at university) were at primary and my DS who is still there and it is a bit like the Emperors new clothes. My DS's school seems to think they have the authority to make whatever demands they like on our free-time, family life, finances, parent's jobs etc. That DS's education is our family's top priority. It's not. The detailed and patronising help-sheets they send home with questions I have to ask him, the way I should spend my weekend, how I can 'support' my child's learning go in the bin. I'm an experienced mother of four and a research scientist at one of the top universities in the UK - I think I've got that one! grin But I also just don't get number bonds - for god's sake why? confused

If you do not conform to this relatively recent educational dogma - and I include in this the big homework con, your astonishing example of 'stickers of shame', and the refusal to grant permission to take children out of school for a variety of entirely valid reasons that do not appear on the official "list" - you clearly do not care about your child's education and the thought police will get you (or at least, you will be fined/prosecuted!). If every day at school was so vital, DS wouldn't have spent much of the final two weeks of last school year watching a variety of Disney and Pixar films! I don't really mind that though - but they can't have it both ways.

It's a bonkers trend, worrying and wrong - surely we should be able to stop it? Just say no - I did with DD3. DD1 and DD2 did no homework at all at primary. I care very deeply about my children's future and education (although not perhaps in the way the Government would like). But DS's education does not take priority over the lives and education of the other five of us in the family.

missinglalaland Tue 01-Oct-13 22:55:49

shock Stigma stickers!?!

I would agree there has been some pointless, silly homework for both dds, especially in infants.

What homework does do, is give me some clue what is on the agenda. When we are sent an overview of the curricula, I never know what they are talking about. When I see some actual homework, I can figure out that "number bonds" means learning to add and subtract the basics, etc.

Also, children don't seem to get quizzes or tests. At least not the simple kinds set by the teacher that used to come home with me on a weekly basis in childhood. So homework is the only way I know whether my dds understand the material being taught. Homework is my only peek into the black box that is school. Otherwise, it's just "surprise! Here is your end of year SAT level."

Eldest dd is now yr5, and I think she could use some rote practise at different math techniques. Eg, long division, equivalent fractions, etc. but that isn't the sort of thing coming home.

mamadoc Tue 01-Oct-13 22:58:29

Our primary has a no homework in KS1 policy (well apart from reading and I consider reading with DD to be a pleasure. I usually forget to write anything in the record book).

This policy is very evidence based. There is no evidence at all of any educational benefit of homework to young children. I am so glad that they have this policy as I work and have a toddler DS. I really just wouldn't have the time to do hours of homework every night.

Whilst it's nice for me I suspect the real reason they don't is because it would entrench inequality. The school is on a council estate in a very mixed area. For some of DDs peers they really have no books at all in the house and parents who don't or maybe can't read. It's hard to look stuff up on the internet when you don't have a computer or internet access. Ok you could go to the library but it is a lot harder. I think the school have learnt not to assume that parents will be offering a lot of support.

We are never asked for more than a £1 contribution to anything for the same reason.

And yet a lot of the more middle class parents (people like me I guess) repeatedly complain about the LACK of homework. Citing things like stretching their children and knowing how they are doing. IMHO that's what the curriculum newsletter and parents evening is for isn't it?

So schools are damned if they do and damned if they don't.
I am glad our school don't and never realised how unusual it is until I read how much homework mums testers kids get!

RiversideMum Wed 02-Oct-13 07:35:27

My DD had one particular primary teacher who used to give out masses of homework. Literally pages of it. I often used to stop her after 30 mins and say so. Or put a note in saying we had a busy weekend and there was not time. I can quite safely say, as she is now nearly 18, this has not harmed my daughter's education in any way and she has done very nicely.

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 07:38:38

So schools are damned if they do and damned if they don't

Doesn't mean they should not attempt to get it right though. A sheet of optional extension tasks could be given out to parents who wanted to 'extend' their children's learning. Small children should not be punished for not doing the homework, or not complying with anything that is their parent's responsibility.

rabbitstew Wed 02-Oct-13 08:56:59

I agree, ancientelm. If my children's homework were targeted at their needs, I wouldn't resent doing it with them. If primary school teachers don't have time to target homework appropriately, then they have no business handing it out in the first place.

rabbitstew Wed 02-Oct-13 09:00:18

and ps a vague question on number bonds is not appropriate targeting, it's a scattergun approach. In fact, I think it shows up how some teachers cope with "mixed ability" teaching - the more able children are only "catered" for if they are that sort of more able child who will happily educate themselves, go off at random tangents without any guidance, and generally be unfeasibly self-confident for a small child.

CinnabarRed Wed 02-Oct-13 09:11:12

The parents at DS1's school are mostly pleasant and normal; however a small-but-vocal minority are so pushy, over everything but especially homework. One gaggle have complained to the school that it doesn't teach languages early enough (they start French in Y2; DS1 is in Y1) and have arranged private lessons in Mandarin and Russian. So much more useful in the future than French or German, you see....

DS1 is struggling enough with reading and writing English. And we pay a decent whack for his education do why not work on the basis that the teachers know what they're doing, hmm?

<<and breathe>>

MerrilyMoo Wed 02-Oct-13 09:15:17

I'm with you, OP. These learning logs are lazy. What happened to giving children 'SMART' homework?

LifeBalance Wed 02-Oct-13 09:20:09

mamadoc I completely agree with you re adapting to the environment the school is in.
I live in a very middle class town. When I mentioned that expecting a child to have a computer at home to do homework was perhaps a bit of a stretch, I was told off because 'everyone now has a computer at home you know!' and 'No even poorer people do have access to the internet and a computer' citing some random studies that have shown it wasn't an issue at all to rely so heavily on the internet for research etc...

I would actually expect the school to stretch my child academically at school which unfortunately hasn't been the case in the last 2 years not through homework.

However I would really like to see more feedback from the school re what the dcs are doing and how well they are doing. Parents evening are only twice a year, once right at the start of year to check that the dc 'has settled in' and a report at the end of the year.
None of those ever dare mentioning any real issue (because you know, the parents might get upset about it... and you should always frame things in a positive way hmm) or if they do they do so in a very understated, round about way and you have to guess that 'your child is finding reading a bit of a struggle' means he is way behind and needs strong support (at home and at school) to catch up.

There just isn't enough feedback and in that case, then yes, homework is a way to check how tour dc is doing and 'helping them' if you can see they are struggling with x task they should be able to do.

So it's not quite a 'schools are dammed if they do and dammed if they don't'. More of a 'we have some issue re the way the school is working, how well or not my child is doing, if he is working to the right level and stretch and any feedback we get'. If these issues were solved, I bet less parents would go on about homework.

LifeBalance Wed 02-Oct-13 09:29:06

why not work on the basis that the teachers know what they're doing, hmm?

Perhaps because sometime they don't?
And perhaps also because sometime they aren't given the time/tools/people necessary to do their job as you expect them to do ie work fully differentiated including for the ones who are really lagging behind and the ones who are really far ahead.

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 09:37:07

if my child came out of school with a sticker saying that I had not paid for something timetabled into the syllabus, I would be peeling it off and sticking it to the headteacher's forehead.
you do know that making demands for payment for timetabled activities is illegal right?
asking for a "voluntary contributions" is not of course.

SquigletPie Wed 02-Oct-13 09:41:10

why not work on the basis that the teachers know what they're doing, hmm?

You must have been lucky enough to be at a perfect school? No school has 100% decent, able teachers who deliver a perfect lesson every time. There were rubbish teachers when I was at school many moons ago and there will continue to be at least 1 in almost every school in the future. Just read some Ofsted reports and the most consistent comment refers to inconsistent teaching standards.

All I can say is the homework set will always demonstrate ability but whether it's the child's or parents' may not be clear, and whether it shows a standard the teacher was hoping the child to perform at is a different matter. If all children perform poorly at a piece of work the teacher should be asking themselves some serious questions about their teaching and setting of work.

Bramshott Wed 02-Oct-13 09:48:21

DD2 is also in Y2 and I'm convinced her homework is mostly a test of parental stamina above anything else...

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 09:48:46

why not work on the basis that the teachers know what they're doing, hmm?
IME a sizable minority of primary school teachers really do NOT know what they are doing, sorry.
let's see ...there was the one who ran a troop of personally invited dancing girls (not boys)
several who liked to scream in small children's faces
the one with his little favourites who would spend lesson time doing powerpoint shows about their trip to Cannes
the one who would
the one whose idea of classroom management was colluding in bullying and isolating victims of it.
i could continue but i CBA.
sorry IME primary schools are a joke.

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 10:04:55

and tbh just because someone has a third class degree from Luton Uni and and have scraped through an 'early years' PGCE really doesnt mean they deserve this instant respect that some of them seem to expect.

rabbitstew Wed 02-Oct-13 10:08:01

Most teachers may know what they are doing, but they don't always do it - sometimes they have to do what the powers that be tell them to do, however silly they think that is, themselves. Then you have the problem of teachers half-heartedly trying to get you to do something they think is a silly as you do, which just p*sses everyone off.

noblegiraffe Wed 02-Oct-13 10:29:10

Primary teaching is pretty competitive, I can't imagine that someone who scraped a third from Luton would even get a place on a PGCE, let alone a job, unless they were remarkable.

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 10:35:05

in that case why was there that big fuss about how all teachers should have at least a second class degree, as though that was something innovative?

wow i missed loads - been off on training courses for the last couple of days.

this isn't really about 'teachers knowing what they're doing or not' because the teacher isn't actually setting this homework for the children let alone the specific child. every child in the year gets the same task sticker stuck in their book on the same day, week in week out. so at some point someone has decided the homework for every year group ever to vaguely correspond with the curriculum without modification at all for different groups and where they're actually at with the curriculum (re: what they've 'got' and where they're struggling) let alone modification for children of different ability levels or sen.

some people seem to be struggling to believe me on the above - i don't blame them as i struggle to believe that's an acceptable practice myself.

i think what i am going to do is ask for an appointment with his classroom teacher this year (who thank god seems quite normal from the odd second i've seen her) and explain my concerns about the homework and that i'm not going to do it anymore. instead i'm going to set what i think is appropriate each week re: ds has issues with his handwriting (he's a typical 6yo boy whose fine motor skills aren't in yet) so we can practice handwriting in a book with lines to guide him - remember those? or i may choose to set some maths sums or a practical task that requires use of numbers. i'm going to focus on skills and advancing his key skills.

i will say that she is welcome to write in the home/school book (if we actually had seen one yet this year) about areas she thinks he personally could benefit from working on and i'll address those but i won't be doing generically set homework tasks that are not set to address his level and needs.

i shall be calm and reasonable but clear.

i've had to go on and on about the distinction between asking for a contribution and demanding payment for timetabled activities btw - they probably hate me for it. ds was on free school dinners in reception till i went back to work yet i was still being badgered endlessly for money and told i had to pay it.

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 10:39:53

it is absolutely not legal to badger parents for money for timetabled activities

i think they know that now burberry - they were damned reluctant to admit it though and were utterly convinced that all they had to do was mention the word 'voluntary' to cover their arses then they could resume hounding you to death and telling you you had to pay.

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 10:46:05

haha you should have shown them the OED definition of 'voluntary'

it was a bit like that burb - i kid ye not.

noblegiraffe Wed 02-Oct-13 10:49:13

Headlines, I imagine, Burberry. My training provider wouldn't accept a candidate with a third class degree onto a PGCE in a shortage subject, so in primary where there are loads of applicants I imagine it would be a big disadvantage, unless you had a masters or loads of relevant experience to make up for it.

Interesting analysis of figures here although it doesn't mention primary teachers specifically. However it does suggest that proportions of lower degrees are likely to be higher in shortage subjects. Primary definitely isn't suffering a shortage!

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 10:50:58

i know - one year 4 teacher used the 'public humiliation' technique for children whose parents had not brought in the £2 demanded for a timetabled history lesson
tbh i am so disillusioned with state ed i am just counting down the days til GCSE

£2 is at least a small amount - they've asked for up to £15 for onsite, timetabled activities here. baffling.

BurberryQ Wed 02-Oct-13 11:13:39

shocking !!! shock 15 quid!!
did you pay?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 02-Oct-13 11:25:02

I suspect that teachers know exactly what they are doing but this is not shared with parents.

Things have come to something of a head with DS2 following the specialist nurses observations two weeks ago that both DS2 and the CT are struggling and that he needs more support, specifically 1:1 as he stops working the second the CT or TA turns away. The CT and SENCO are desperately running around trying to prove that DS2 is fine now, after only a couple of weeks and no additional support apart from the use of stickers. Seriously? If stickers were all that was needed why didn't they do this 3 years ago instead of spending thousands on visits from SALT, OT, EP, specialist teachers etc?

For example, inference is assessed as on the 4th percentile and so he is supposed to be supported to make progress on this area. Instead, it is not an IEP target but a reading target for the term - which yesterday he apparently passed. The target of inference can now be highlighted on the APP grid. Whereas the unmet targets previously matched assessment, the school data has now been re-adjusted to indicate that teachers do not share the same concerns and that the assessment must be wrong as a child with those difficulties would not have met the target.

I do not get the whole Disney/Pixar thing - are they now sponsoring primary schools?? Last year DS2 did Madagascar. This year they are doing Up! This involves watching the film mainly (whilst at school). Homework is therefore creating a map of the local area. Except that the homework does not explicitly say what the child is expected to do. 'Can you create a map of your local area'? Has the teacher never met a literal child? 'Yes' or 'no' - job done ('she never said you have to actually make a map').

But why can't watching the film be homework and map making done in school?

no i did not burberry. it was for a fossil expert to come in with some fossils and for them to make a clay fossil of their own. 2 reception classes covered by this at 15ph meant £900 was being charged for this. not a chance.

keepon - i agree - funny how the school wanted the fun bit whilst you were expected to do the actual make them sit down and work bit. all too familiar sadly.

it's like teachers know obviously that children can't produce much output at that age so don't ask for it in class as it would be hell to try and get it out of them yet happily send home tasks they would never undertake in class.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 02-Oct-13 11:52:09

it's like teachers know obviously that children can't produce much output at that age so don't ask for it in class as it would be hell to try and get it out of them yet happily send home tasks they would never undertake in class.

I totally agree. They are trained teachers and can barely get more than a few written words in class but pretend that when DS2 is home he can magically work independently and produce masses of neatly written work (preferably with pop-ups ffs).

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 02-Oct-13 11:57:11

The last four weeks DS2 has spent working on his own Up! inspired story in literacy. This is not war and peace. This is how long it takes them to get him to write, and then rewrite, and then rewrite in best, and then rewrite as 'evidence of progress', a couple of sentences.

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 12:08:25

Thing is mine can now do it at home... independently after explanation.....actually saves stuff to do at home of ongoing pieces of work that they get chance to do some of it in school as well.

'I wanted you to go through it with me', can be heard in our house.

I guess I've been teaching some of the stuff haven't I?

Topsy-turvey world.

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 12:22:50

^can be an awful lot to do though...You need balance.

Elasticsong Wed 02-Oct-13 12:26:57

I am a 'lapsed' primary teacher. My dd is now in Y1, is very able and I don't enforce homework at all. I don't even hear her read her reading book unless she asks. At the age of 5, I'd rather she were grubbing around looking for caterpillars, dancing to her favourite tune, playing with her baby sister, watching some television (gasp), 'helping' me cook, reading or drawing etc than doing homework for the sake of it - to comply with some ridiculous Ofsted demand.

So, I don't enforce it and wait quietly in the wings for my dd's class teacher to broach the subject with me if she wishes. At that point, I'd calmly explain my pov.

As an aside, my dd is a fluent, confident reader, writer and mathematician who needs a bloody rest when she gets home and at the weekend.

Don't be too harsh on the teacher who is compelled to set this silliness for the class though. Most teachers, in my experience, have the best interests of the children at heart. It's just that they are pushed and pulled in all directions by an out of touch government, Draconian inspection teams and, sadly by frequently stressed and often evidence-hungry senior management teams...

i agree elastic. as i said i think this is a school wide top down thing rather than anything to do with the classroom teacher.

out of interest do you get little 'no home reading recorded!' statements in your child's reading record book all the time? we do. it all feels very punitive and about telling off parents.

can't remember who wrote about this culture of parents have to do x, y and z to be seen as decent but it was spot on i think, at least ime here.

rabbitstew Wed 02-Oct-13 12:42:31

Well, I've been on the interview panel for a few teacher vacancies and realised doing that that I had unrealistic expectations. I was actually rather disappointed by the number of spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes in so many of the applications, including many applicants apparently not even capable of ensuring they had spelt the name of the school correctly.

here's a thought as well and i'm sorry if it offends anyone but actually for some children learning to read and extending their reading is pretty straightforward and once they've got the basics they're away really. in ds's case it really isn't necessary for him to read dreary little books to me every day - he can read and whilst yes there's a constant process of approaching more complex words he can basically figure out what most words are now and that will organically continue over time and through a desire to know what things say and asking when stuck and remembering that anomaly for next time itms.

i totally appreciate reading is a much harder matter for some children and needs a hell of a lot of support. but if it's easy for your child it really is hard to build up much anxiety about level book they're on or how many times they've read some shite story this week. i gauge more on how much the little bugger can read over my shoulder whilst i'm posting on mumsnet tbh grin gone are the days where you can assume they're not reading it out of the corner of their eye whilst chatting to you.

so actually even the reading books become a bit of a nonsense and waste of time and frankly just serve to stunt his interest in reading because the books are so dull and the making it a task that must be done takes the joy out.

the punitive 'NO HOME READING RECORDED!!' statements just kind of piss me off because it's like yeah, he can read and he read the book the first day it was given why on earth would we want to read it again in order to please your little tick box when it was dull as ditch water the first time.

at this point they could give ds a proper book - as in a little child's novel rather than a 'reader' that he might actually be interested in the story and read to know what happens next rather than to tick a box. we'd happily read a few chapters a week of said book and i'd happily teach him the words that were out of his current range. he'd be learning to love reading and learning reading is worthwhile even when tricky because you get to know what happens next in this exciting story with characters you care about.

actually i guess that's what i'll do then - tell them this term ds is going to read the faraway tree to me for example. let me know if you want to hear my thoughts on how his reading is progressing. i'm done with those daft bloody jimmy found a kite, the wind blew and the kite flew away, jimmy was sad, jimmy found the kite and was happy again type drudgeries.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 02-Oct-13 12:49:55

The home/school book is used to send messages to me such as 'listen to DS read' or the implicit 'his target is x,z,y times table and he will be tested this week'. Teaching is done at home and testing is done at school. I only have experience of teaching self-motivated undergrads. I don't know how to instil a life-long love of learning in a 7 year old. I'm pretty sure homework battles would scar him for life though.

Elasticsong Wed 02-Oct-13 12:54:42

'No home reading recorded' would really piss me off tbh and I think I'd ignore (whilst fuming inwardly) until I was confronted at parent's evening or similar and then I'd speak my mind. The school sounds very full on.

Sadly it seems that many teachers have forgotten that some things are 'guidelines' as opposed to 'statutory requirements'.

In my bleaker moments, I fear for my kids who go to school under these circumstances but I really hope they'll have the strength of character to come out well rounded and able to question everything...

If I ever get 'No home reading recorded', I'll write back saying that when they've taught her to write she'll be able record her reading innit.

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 12:56:38

You need to hope your school does not buy into the Accelerated Reading Programme then swallowed:

We have has angst over quiz scores and the seemingly punitive measure of having to go down a level if they have not received an adequate score. Yet tests are not always done as soon as a book is finished and for some reason they cannot take the book in with them. confused

Elasticsong Wed 02-Oct-13 12:59:23

Ha! SwallowedAfly just read about The Faraway Tree - my dd is currently reading that whilst studiously avoiding the scheme book she's been given - and Roald Dahl. That's how to foster that love of reading, I think.

It's sad that some teachers are too fearful to think (and act) outside the box. Years of criticism and demoralisation is the reason, I reckon...

PiqueABoo Wed 02-Oct-13 13:00:10

@ KeepOnKeepingOn1: " I don't know how to instil a life-long love of learning in a 7 year old"

On my planet most children are born with that, the trick is to keep it alive.

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 13:03:12

PiqueABoo Some 'educational' practises are in danger of killing that love off if you are not careful.

bunnybing Wed 02-Oct-13 13:13:43

Op, I agree with you - the question is far too open ended - at that age any homework, if given at all, should be quite closed questions and preferably fun. Also agree a lot of parents won't know what number bonds are.

The teachers themselves should find out in class time whether their pupils understand number bonds.
MIL is an ex-infant teacher - she disagreed with setting HW for that age group, bar reading.

yep they are ancient. hence i think i'm going to learn to say fuck that, we're not doing it and we'll do something less boring instead (keep chanelling why don't you of late)

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 02-Oct-13 13:18:26

DS1 is not an alien but was born (on this planet) with SN and SpLD. Same undifferentiated homework whilst in m/s though.

rabbitstew Wed 02-Oct-13 13:20:34

Your children's school does sound a bit anal, swallowedAfly.

NotAsTired Wed 02-Oct-13 13:41:09

swallowed. I am totally on your side here. As a KS1 and foundation stage teacher, I am appalled at the amount of homework DS, in year 1, is expected to do. Something for English, maths, reading, spellings, and "suggested" activities, usually mental/oral maths. shock. He is 5 ffs. What are the school on?

We do 4 x 10 min sessions of reading (he needs this) and looking at/sounding out the words that he needs to learn for his spelling test hmm that's a whole other rage and 1 x 10 min of whatever work he has been set. If it can't be finished in that time, it can't.

nickelbabe Wed 02-Oct-13 13:55:08

swallowed - i think you've got it spot on, personally.

Ignore their silly requests and every time you do homework with him, record that - and exactly what you've done with him.

and the reading - yup, get your own books suited to his level and record those, not the silly ones they set.

I was fuming when I read the the bit about labelling the children. How humiliating (and definitely against the human rights act)

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 13:56:33

Have you seen this thread? Similar things going on here with homework too.

Mirage Wed 02-Oct-13 14:37:39

I'm another homework hater,it just sucks the joy out of our weekends and results in tears,sulks,shouting and all round misery.Our DDs go to a small village school,and whenever I have questioned the amount of homework,I am told that the majority of parents want more homework,not less.

I'd love to know who these parents are,because I've not spoken to one yet who doesn't resent spending family time on pointless tasks.I wouldn't mind so much if a note was sent home highlighting what aspects the DC were struggling with and we could address that at home.For instance,DD1 isn't great at maths,but is great at literacy,she very rarely gets maths homework,and as we don't know how they are supposed to work maths out these days,it is difficult to try and teach her ourselves without confusing her.

MilkRunningOutAgain Wed 02-Oct-13 19:16:28

My DD is just 7 and knows her number bonds to 20. In the spirit of experiment I gave her a blank piece of paper and told her to " show me what you've leaned about number bonds up to 20 and what patterns you can see." She was in a good mood and humoured me. She wrote the numbers 1 to 20 in a pretty spiral pattern down the page and then decorated it with stars, suns etc. she told me the numbers looked pretty now.

To my mind she did a good job given the instructions!

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 19:26:33

Milk Your school is doing a good job then of teaching your daughter. What do you think they do differently?

ancientelm Wed 02-Oct-13 19:34:43

Milk Just re-read your post...oops!

Periwinkle007 Wed 02-Oct-13 21:11:42

we don't have any homework yet really for Yr1. reading book, suggested 20 mins every day which is easy, books are a bit rubbish but short enough that she reads 3 of them a week and has 4 days to read her own books which is fine. and then 10 spellings to practice but so far that has been very easy too.

I don't mind reading, I do mind rubbish books but she can read chapter books now so no concerns with her reading ability. spellings are all phonetic groups of words which I actually think is quite good practice so no complaints so far here.

am tempted to ask her at the weekend to try this task like Milk did - she would probably do something very similar (if she didn't have a strop, throw it on the floor and shout she didn't understand - and she is very good at maths, english and reading)

PiqueABoo Wed 02-Oct-13 22:14:25


"Extensive psychological testing has shown that the mysterious quality called 'creative imagination' seems to exist in all people but is severely diminished by the time an individual reaches the age of six. The environment of school ('You mustn't do this!' 'You mustn't do that!' 'You call that a drawing of your mother ? Why, your mother only has two legs.' 'Nice girls don't do things like that!') sets up a whole screen of blocks in the mind of the child that later inhibits his ability to ideate freely."

That quote, one of my favourites, is from ~50 years ago and I think the mysterious quality called 'enthusiasm for learning' is in roughly the same boat, diminished by rules and constraints in an environment with too many tests.

Meanwhile we both work full-time and from the start of Reception often didn't get DD back until 5-5:30pm when chat, play etc. were a much higher priority than box-ticking homework. She's a 10yo now and I still favour unstructured childhood, DD doing any activities she wants to do over school-stuff (we keep passive TV etc. in proportion). Interestingly some recent behavioural genetics research appears to be on my side:

"a genetic way of thinking about education is to foster genotype-environment correlation, giving children opportunities to select, modify, and create educational experiences in part on the basis of their genetic propensities, which include appetites as well as aptitudes."

Uppatea Wed 02-Oct-13 22:26:40

I have been following this thread with great interest, PiqueaBoo do you mind me asking where those two quotes are from? Thank you!

missinglalaland Wed 02-Oct-13 22:33:30

This thread inspired me to let dd aged 6 in yr2 decide when to stop with her reading book for school tonight. We didn't finish it, but I think she read enough. She and her older sister then spent an hour choreographing their own dance routine for fun. Finally, they wrapped up their evening with a duet of "Hot Cross Buns" on the violin/recorder.

Feeling quite light of heart and content at the moment. smile

PiqueABoo Wed 02-Oct-13 22:50:33


The first is a provocative and classic design book, much of which is still quite relevant: Design for the Real World, Victor Papenek.

The second is a research paper Literacy and Numeracy Are More Heritable Than Intelligence in Primary School and you can get the full PDF for free from here:

thanks everyone.

i am really glad i started the thread and shared my frustrations.

love that someone tried out the task on a child a year older than mine and able and she came nowhere near to the presumed desired outcome either smile

this has bolstered my confidence to just stop doing this mindless shite and the freedom of that has made me realise that i do want to work with ds on his learning but i want to chose how according to his and my needs/abilities etc rather than have it prescribed.

ooh i want to share one more frustration and find out if it is common place:

ds's school bag is used as a sales point - constant advertising in there and recently advertising in an envelope with a lable printed on it saying this must be filled in and returned to school even if you have no interest and the form (from a private tuition company) asked for your name address and contact no. obviously i wrote on it that i wouldn't give out my personal details to a private companies database and i hoped the school did not either.

'choose' not chose

BoffinMum Thu 03-Oct-13 08:22:43

Advertising in book bags justifies a formal complaint. It's completely inappropriate unless it's a specific communication about the school or local authority.

ArgyMargy Thu 03-Oct-13 08:29:31

Advertising in the book bag! Although I'm shocked of course why wouldn't they? I do think one way to challenge these insidious trends is to become a Governor and start to challenge the Emperors New Clothes. Or lobby the existing governors and get like-minded parents to do the same. Clearly the governing body is currently weak/lazy or just looking at academic scores.

Bakingtins Thu 03-Oct-13 09:13:45

Put it in the recycling. Is this stuff really all you have to worry about?
Clearly the governing body must put flyers in book bags right at the top of the agenda.....

Uppatea Thu 03-Oct-13 11:56:22

Thank you PiqueABoo

missinglalaland Thu 03-Oct-13 13:54:14

Bakingtins has the right idea: put it straight into the recycling bin without another thought.

I'd be amazed if they ever chased you up on it. And, if they did, just think how satisfying it would be tell them a few home truths from your legitimately, and rightfully high horse!

BoffinMum Thu 03-Oct-13 15:28:32

These are more than little advertising flyers for the local zoo or whatever. If private companies are misrepresenting themselves as official communications by demanding addresses in order that people might 'opt out', it runs the risk of schools not being able to collect the real information that they need to do their business, such as annual data updates for their records. Similarly there are ethical issues with advertising private tutoring through book bags, are there not?

exactly boffin - thank god someone gets it! they were presenting themselves as part of the school or lea and as an official document that needed to be filled - do people really think that's ok?

all kicked off today as the teacher made me come over to talk about why ds hadn't filled in his learning log.

explained and got a lot of defensive denial type stuff about how it was fine that it was totally undifferentiated and how it was fine that actually they'd be assessing parental input because that was 'natural and normal' and would always be the way sad she admitted happily it wasn't a log of learning but an opportunity to extend their learning and obviously those who had able parents would learn loads and those who didn't wouldn't which is the natural order of things it seems.

asked how on earth a 6yo would honestly produce any meaningful output to such an open ended task and she assured me she marks beautiful pieces of work and reams of pages etc - asked her if she didn't wonder if she was marking parental input over children's work and she said 'well that's how it is and it always will be'.

very sad. she also confirmed that no it isn't differentiated for any students unless they were 'very, very severely disabled' sad

her stock response was 'well we'll have to agree to disagree' on that.

then she kept aggressively saying, " so are you REFUSING to do the learning log?" over and over despite the fact i kept saying, yes i am, unless it's a differentiated piece of work with a clear purpose that relates to ds and his learning. "so you are REFUSING to do this?????" yes, i've already said that. "well other children will be doing it so you'll be disadvantaging your child...." etc.

ended with her repeatedly saying, 'well i guess i can't FORCE you to do it' and me saying, 'i guess i can't stop you from deciding i'm a rubbish parent because i don't see the educational value in doing this...'.

utter joke.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 16:16:05

Find another school. The teacher sounds vile.

oh and whilst i encouraged ds to go off and play and not listen in to what we were talking about and kept smiling and making light she was rolling her eyes at ds as if they could conspire about me being an idiot. utterly unbelievable.

ds was looking back at her as if to say, why are you pulling that funny face at me instead of talking to my mummy?


indyandlara Thu 03-Oct-13 16:23:21

We use learning logs and would set a task just like this. Only difference is we don't do it for homework. At this age I would expect the children to write some examples and a short (most likely jumbled) commentary or explanation Our learning logs are blank pages. At this age I would probably comment on the page after I had read it. Not in England but common here and what's expected by inspectors too.

perhaps unrelated and random but ds was always in group three for spellings and literacy - always got full marks. this year he's been put down to group two and still gets full marks obviously as it's easier and she gives him housepoints etc but doesn't put him up to group three.

in last weeks spelling book he'd attempted the words for group three despite not being in it purely because he'd practiced at my mum's house (i was busier due to training courses and work commitments so he spent time there) and my mum is of the learn it all and the more the better school. she wrote 'you don't have to learn these, you are in group two so don't do these' beside his answers to the test that corresponded to group three (presumably if you're at group one you're meant to just sit there and not write anything for the rest of the test, and likewise group two).

i have zero idea why he has gone down to group two when he'd got full marks all year in group three and zero idea why he virtually got told off for answering group three's questions.

i'm now paranoid that it's because of the 'learning log'.

really not feeling confident about sending him there with these kind of attitudes.

indyandlara Thu 03-Oct-13 16:32:47

Do they test all the class at the end of the year? A commercial type test with spelling ages? I used the results of this to set my spelling groups and a few parents were surprised their kids were in group 2 now.

nickelbabe Thu 03-Oct-13 16:34:37

did he get most of the answers right of the group 3 questions?

mummytime Thu 03-Oct-13 16:36:54

I would really look for another school, it sounds somewhat pants. I hate to think what will happen if your son has a real problem or there is a family crisis or something.

rabbitstew Thu 03-Oct-13 16:37:50

The school is useless - find somewhere else if possible.

AND: write out a list of all the things you do with your child which you consider to be better thought out and more educational than the school's homework and which the school is preventing you from doing with your child because of their crass and silly demands.

i'm literally feeling sick at her attitude.

she was basically saying that their is no such thing as social mobility or equality and a child's educational attainment is based on the class and intelligence of it's parents and of course schools used that to educate kids.

i swear to god she was rolling at ds and expecting him to conspire with her and i have to say i'm pretty proud that he was looking at me as if to say, 'is she crazy or what?'.

i'm stunned by how backwards it all was. i kept saying well how would a child who was dyslexic access this task? or what if their parents had english as a second language (as a friend of mine does at that school and has had a nightmare trying to do phonics let alone this level of teaching)? she was like...??? what? so? they'll fail obviously - that's normal and natural. i am STUNNED.

rolling her eyes at ds that should have said.

i kid ye not -she really fucking was looking at him and rolling her eyes

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 16:56:40

Village school with mostly white middle-class intake turns out to be parochial and small-minded with lazy staff and a sense of entitlement, shock. In other news, bears found shitting in pope's hat.

Next time someone expresses surprise at hearing that tough primaries in hard-scrabble parts of town do astounding work, while seemingly idyllic village primaries are lazy and complacent, you'll be able to give an example.

Ofsted is, at last, looking at value add, mobility and progress for all children, which is why lazy suburban and village primaries are suddenly dropping from Outstanding (ie "the parents do the teaching, we take the credit") to a category.

nickelbabe Thu 03-Oct-13 16:58:26

i personally would report that to ofsted.

the arrogance was unbelievable and i am impressed at myself that i tolerated an adult entrusted with a position of authority in my child's life rolling their eyes at him about me. seriously wtaf????

she utterly refused to engage at an adult level or discussing the value/merit/educational evidence etc and went instead for a bad mummy i'll try and shame you and make your child think you're a twat approach.

to openly admit there is zero differentiation unless you are 'severely disabled' just left me open mouthed. i trained in 2000 so maybe i am a little out of date but i don't think i missed an update where it was ok to go back to 1952. she said 'well ofsted has changed a lot' when i said come on, let's be realistic saying 'differentiated by outcome' would have my lesson laughed at by ofsted.

just stunning arrogance i guess.

jesus - i've never felt this level of... oh my god i have to send MY child into your classroom tomorrow for you to be this unprofessional and confusing to him. if she felt comfortable trying to engage him in eye rolling in FRONT of me what will she comfortable with in my absence?

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 17:14:51

i personally would report that to ofsted.

I'd write, formally, to the head. Calm down, take a chill pill, and complain, both about the work and the teacher's responses to your concerns.

But be careful. The difficulty with "but it's undifferentiated" is that by the sound of it, your own child is probably in the ability band it's notionally targeted at. Talking about how it's not an appropriate piece of work for other children, who aren't yours, can be painted as somewhere between interfering and concern trolling ("well, Ms AFly, let's leave other parents to worry about their children and focus on your child"). I realise your argument is that the lack of differentiation is just another symptom of why it's an inappropriate piece of work to set for children of any ability, but articulating that is quite difficult.

The reason for her repeated "are you saying that you're refusing" thing is that she's too used to parents (and children) being reluctant to refuse in terms. Few mothers are willing to look a teacher in the eye and say "nope", so she's assuming that you'll stop before you get to that point. When you didn't stop, she'd run out of ideas...

are you refusing... YES... no but are you actually refusing YES!! her poor little brain couldn't compute that i was actually saying no and sticking to it.

village schools man! if you're thinking oh we'll move out to here so little johnny can go to a naice school think AGAIN! if you're thinking he'll be able to play out, have friends, go to the shop solo to buy sweets then yep you're onto a good plan. if you're thinking he'll get a decent education think again.

please talk to me because i'm so cross at this point and just do not know HOW i send my child back there tomorrow with a woman who was so keen to try and conspire against me with my child.

Dreamingofcakeallnight Thu 03-Oct-13 18:07:01

I've not read the responses but daily reading isn't unusual or onerous! It should be part of each child's day!

Also, 4 days to complete some number bond homework is not unreasonable if you ask me. Your response was unreasonable.

oh yes dreaming - and saying that the children of illiterate parents are bound to fail and that's just nature is also absolutely fine.

Dreamingofcakeallnight Thu 03-Oct-13 18:12:00

I've just caught up with the rest of the thread. My apologies. In context, teacher sounds horrific. sad

Trigglesx Thu 03-Oct-13 18:44:52

Goodness, you are working yourself up into a right froth. You need to calm down.

I might also point out that this phrase perhaps ds has sen or something that i'm unaware of and all teachers have been foisted into thinking him able when he is actually sub normal pretty much lost any sympathy I had for you anyway. It sounds disturbingly like you've just equated a child with SEN with "subnormal." The fact that you state you are a teacher makes it even more appalling that you posted that.

By going off about "how are other children going to deal with this" or "how will parents who are uneducated - unlike me - going to do this," you look like you are a know-it-all busybody who is demanding they alter their lesson plans to fit your idea of appropriate. hmm

I'd suggest that if you or your child personally had problems with this homework, then you speak to the teacher. If someone else had problems with it, they will either speak to the teacher or it won't get done properly (or won't get done) and the teacher will have a fairly good idea who is struggling and who is not.

There's a reason for the notion that "doctors (and nurses) do not make the best patients." You are not the teacher. Stick to being a parent. You are not the advocate for all the other children in the class.

I personally would be quite cross if you had decided because my child has SEN or SNs that he couldn't cope with the homework assignment. None of your business. I can deal with it, thank you very much.

indyandlara Thu 03-Oct-13 19:03:08

Did they have an end of year assessed spelling test? Do you know? Not all village schools are the same just as not are all comps in the toughest parts of our cities are. As a teacher I wouldn't have considered reading and a journal log to be a huge amount of work. As I said, learning logs are common and the children quickly become versed in how to do them. Are your expectations of what was to be in the log in line with the teacher's? Are you expecting more than she is? It's always worth remembering that reading scheme books are only 1 part of reading. Children should be reading widely anything that catches their attention on top of that. It shouldn't be one or the other. Children who don't like reading,for example, will often listen to audio books and follow the text.

I think you need to think very quickly if you can work with the school. If you feel you no longer can then really your only option is to move elsewhere.

claw2 Thu 03-Oct-13 19:21:10

"perhaps ds has sen or something that i'm unaware of and all teachers have been foisted into thinking him able when he is actually sub normal because he could not write all of the number bonds 1-20 on blank paper"

What makes you think that a child with SEN couldn't do the task?

What makes you think that a child with SEN isn't able?

Why are chidren with SEN sub normal?

How do you know that the work wasn't differanted and was set the same for every child?

missinglalaland Thu 03-Oct-13 19:26:37

It certainly sounds like the wrong set up for you and your family for sure.

Just a thought on log books. It's easier to just quietly ignore the log book than to have a confrontation about it. There are probably a lot of half-hearted incomplete log books in the class already. And the teacher probably just sighs and forgets about it. Just "yes her to death" sweetly, and then go off and do what you want. Simple.

i don't think a child with sen couldn't do that and i hope clearly my 'sub normal' comment wasn't to do with sen children but teachers expectations.

god i should have expected this no doubt.

saying i was concerned about no differentiation and worried that if it effected children without sen and parents without barriers to supporting their children then it must be massively discriminating to those with apparently makes me a cunt who should mind my own business.

so parents of children with sen should fight solo for diffentiation and illiterate parents intimidated by teachers and officialdom should be expected to fight against them for recognition of their needs.

righty oh.

incidentally i never said ANY child couldn't do number bonds and write them out i said that few children could ACCESS the task that said, 'show me what you know about number bonds'. sure loads could do a task that said, 'write out number bonds up to 20'.

way to miss the point.

Well what about children with 1:1 hours clearly specified in their statements? Should a teacher do what they think is best with regards to removing that support or relocating it?

Or do sometimes teachers NOT know best and simply follow the guidelines that professionals with expertise in the field have set?

And if they should do what they think it best without regard for legal established practices, then why should they not do what they think is best for simple 'guidelines'?

indyandlara Thu 03-Oct-13 20:32:52

But language like 'Show me what you know about x, y, z' is really, really common in the primary classroom. This is not an unusual task.

teacherwith2kids Thu 03-Oct-13 20:44:43


Exactly. And in exactly the same way, parents saying 'I don't know what a number bond is' are also missing the point spectacularly, because virtually any child of that age in a current primary classroom will know what one is (including all but one of the statemented childre I have taught - the only exception was pre-verbal), and it is THEIR homework.

I suppose the thing that I have never been clear about is:
- Did the OP's child read the homework (or have it read to them) and have a go at it independently?
- Did the child genuinely struggle to understand what was required?

OR is it that the OP didn't understand the homework, and read a whole lot into it (in the same way as she did for the menu task, which could easily have been completed through pictures drawn or cut out) whereas the child expected to do it would have been fine to complete it in a way that seemed reasonable to them.

It is, of course, possible that the OP's child is already so used to the OP's attitude to homework that he already knows that 'what he would do with it in school using his own knowledge' is NOT 'what Mum thinks I ought to do' and so, at home, waits to be told what mum thinks he ought to do.

I agree that the teacher's phrasing was clumsy, and it may be that it is a terrible school. However, sending home a learning log with a task understandable by a child at their own level (not, maybe, a high level, but at their own level) does not, in itself, make the school terrible - and in many ways this is better homework than 3 or 5 way differentiated 'closed' worksheets with neatly worked out exemplars.

claw2 Thu 03-Oct-13 20:54:01

You clearly said "perhaps ds has sen or something that i'm unaware of and all teachers have been foisted into thinking him able when he is actually sub normal"

Which point did I miss?

and again how do you know that its not differentiation? Do you have access to the books of children with SEN's or children with uneducated parents?

"so parents of children with sen should fight solo for diffentiation"

If you want to fight and feel that strongly about it, maybe a better start would be agreeing that children should get what they are legal entitled to ie whats written in the legally binding statement of SEN, rather than getting your knickers in a twist about homework!

BoffinMum Thu 03-Oct-13 21:49:00

This very misguided teacher is taking a position mooted by early psychologists, and later in the 1950s by US sociologist Talcott Parsons, called Functionalism. This basically says that society sorts itself out by self-regulating and that social mobility is not really possible. This was superseded in the 1960s and 1970s with the work of David Hargreaves (teacher typing), Paul Willis (a study called Learning to Labour: How working class lads get working class jobs) and many, many others. They found that social reproduction - mindlessly reproducing the social status of parents, amongst other things - caused problems in education, and argued for reform. Which we have been doing ever since.

If your teacher was in any way interested in her own profession she would have touched on this in her own training and applied it in her work. (I am not even going to dignify her eye rolling nonsense with typing a view on that, by the way).

Which is my way of saying she sounds crap and you may wish to make a complaint or move schools, to avoid future nonsense.

chibi Thu 03-Oct-13 22:02:56

god i hate primary education in this country. actually i hate a lot about education here period. this is a perfect example, together with some of the responses it has provoked.

writing for the sake of producing evidence of errr who knows. to whose benefit? who cares- we have paperwork to document it. joyless, senseless, pointless.

brambleandapple Thu 03-Oct-13 22:05:07

Wow I haven't heard those names since A Level Sociology. Remember the chapter in Haralambos Boffin? grin

BoffinMum Thu 03-Oct-13 22:08:57

Love a bit of sociology, me wink

rabbitstew Thu 03-Oct-13 22:32:19

Now, my problem with differentiation by outcome is that it sounds remarkably like hit and miss education - you never really find out what the child knows, just what they feel like showing you, which with a question as dull as the one in that homework, is unlikely to be very much for the majority of children, however clever they are.

she's old enough to have had a very different teacher training expereince than me but it's no excuse really as that's what cpd is for.

to believe it's natural, normal and not even to be avoided that children should only achieve what their parents are capable of doing is inexcusable.

feel yuk about it all this morning.

my boss is a school governor (at a different school) and i've asked him to give me a call when he gets the chance so i can get his advice on what's best to do and whether it's actually worth doing anything. he's a whizz who will no doubt know exactly where the info is, what ofsted looks for, latest guidance etc.

just not sure if i have any energy to see this through anywhere. it seems to me the 'shame stickers', the undifferentiated homework (home teaching) disguised as a 'learning log' and the attitudes of this teacher towards parents and children of lower ability are all part of the same picture which is a pretty sad one. maybe they complete missed the revolutions in theory, attitude and ethics in education through the 60s and 70s?

BoffinMum Fri 04-Oct-13 10:10:30

To me it sounds as though this teacher is not the brightest in the bunch, or else she would realise her theory about children just doesn't work in real life - the evidence will be there in the classroom if she looks for it.

I am surprised her Head hasn't stepped in, given that Ofsted would have a fit if they got a whiff of this sort of nonsense, but perhaps the Head is not exactly top notch either. It does happen.

So ultimately your best step is to take this to the governors' Curriculum and Standards Committee, and if they fob you off, find a better school. You might need to do that anyway, as you sound very frustrated with this one and that rarely works out for the best.

On the other hand you can't rule out the fact she may be a lone operator and they get rid of her once they realise what she is up to in her classroom, as its abysmal educational practice.

BoffinMum Fri 04-Oct-13 10:10:40


i sadly think this is a cross school issue boffin. i don't think it's just her. same homework being set in the other year 2 class and it was the same across year 1. presumably the rationale is the same too.

i've just been invited for interview for a job i've applied for on the other side of the country so with a bit of luck this will become a non issue for me. i realise though that when i next pick a school i will be asking more questions and will definitely ask about homework.

just to be really clear it's not a blanket 'i don't want homework' thing for me - i'll happily do g's spellings, read with him etc and would happily sit with ten 'sums' sent home for him to do or do a finding out facts type task that involved developing research skills and fueling interest in a new topic etc. it's the nature of the homework and the worrying attitude behind it that concerns me - she has confirmed they do it knowing full well it is differentiated by parental input and that that for them is the whole point and a perfectly natural state of affairs sad

right - have consulted my boss (governor, educator and safeguarding consultant amongst other things) who has consulted primary heads in the area and scanned through the school info etc and it's definitely not just me being neurotic.

the homework according to other heads is totally unacceptable, totally undifferentiated and would not stand up to any kind of evaluation of educational worth. the teacher's attitude is also considered incredibly inappropriate and school's equality policy and equality action plan is a) woefully inadequate and shows a complete lack of understanding of indirect discrimination (and what 'discrimination' means in general actually) but b) none the less it directly contradicts what this teacher said and believes about homework and parental ability and directly contradicts the schools homework policy and practice in general.

the school is actually a level three and on closer reading of the last ofsted report in respect of having used the school for 3 years now i am seeing clearly that what it really says is that children are lovely, well behaved, respectful and willing to get on with work despite the fact that the work is inappropriately set, doesn't adequately stretch able students and is without clear direction. it appears now i read it again that the ofsted report is basically saying - lucky you, you get lovely well behaved kids whose parental input means they do ok on sats despite the fact that you are not adding much to pupil progress.

my email this morning has been ignored so i've contacted again saying that i want the appointment, i've taken advice, i've read the schools equality plan etc and this has confirmed my concerns are well founded and i hope they will get back to me with an appointment and that this can be resolved in house but that i am aware of how to address this with LA and Ofsted.

chatting with my boss it is quite clear that it's a waste of energy because if they've managed to ignore ofsted, managed to ignore reality and the passing of the decades and still arrogantly plough forward with doing it there way then realistically they're not going to give a flying fuck about the views of one parent but.... we shall see.

i have to say i was reassured by hearing that not one but two local headteachers said this homework was woefully inadequate and totally unacceptable and both had assumed that this was a 'lazy teacher' - though as we know this is actually a whole school approach not sadly the work of one rogue teacher.

their sorry. bit stressed.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 15:01:44

the school is actually a level three and on closer reading of the last ofsted report in respect of having used the school for 3 years now i am seeing clearly that what it really says is that children are lovely, well behaved, respectful and willing to get on with work despite the fact that the work is inappropriately set

So at the next inspection they'll be given notice to improve or possibly special measures: three years ago coasting schools that were doing a bad job with a good intake were able to get away with it, but under the current frameworks the inspection looks at value add and quality, rather than just outcomes. They'll have bad contexualised outcomes and will, by the sounds of it, fail on capacity to improve (if they were 3 across the board three years ago, they will be asked to show everything they've done to improve) If what you say is right about discrimination then they'll also get clobbered on "closing the gap", although if they have very low levels of FSM/EAL as is common in such schools the gap may be difficult to measure.

There will then follow a deafening wail of middle class parents whining about Gove, forced Acadamisation, "our school", the Tories (whom they all voted for anyway), etc, etc.

they do have very low levels of non white british and low levels of fsd children AND low levels of sen compared to national so yes - hard to measure and all too easy for the school to write it off as well most of our kids do well and of course a small proportion won't as per natural ability outcomes etc.

hope the inspection will see through this but don't hold out much hope.

i just feel really sad actually. sad for the students of less advantaged backgrounds there, sad for the middle class mummies whose insecurities and shame and fear of being not good enough are being preyed upon to make them toe the line and not complain, sad for the local community that the only school there to serve them is caught in the dark ages and so very arrogant etc.

today i've been comparing their prospectus with other schools and seeing that arrogance writ large with comments like, 'if you are lucky enough to be able to secure a place for your child at our school'. just breathtaking really seen in context of other schools prospectus' that are about showing their worth and their commitment to service etc.

their 'equality action plan' is stunningly short sighted and reveals so much about their miscomprehension of what discrimination looks like and just how frankly smug they are. even in the face of a level 3 inspection result it was flagrantly portrayed as ofsted tightening up their procedures and focussing too much on end of ks2 outcomes rather than the school actually needing to improve.

i'm afraid everything i've read, discussed and explored has confirmed they are smug, complacent and assuming they can get away with marketing their parental demographic intake and the subsequent advantages it confers as their own achievement. one can only hope they will be given a rude awakening at the next ofsted inspection because it appears their arrogance has led to largely ignoring what ofsted told them and continuing on in the same old vein.

ha i've just seen the christmas appeal business is up - if anyone could nominate me for a 5 gallon bottle of gin i'd most appreciate it wink

am wondering now whether to get on to my old uni professor whose still involved in educational policy etc. i know i sound daft but i'm genuinely shocked there are still schools who think they can get away with this kind of differentiation (and results) by parents approach.

sure i expect it in selective and private schools but naively thought state schools had moved on.

indyandlara Fri 04-Oct-13 15:45:38

Are the parents of the children you don't believe are academically able to complete the work complaining or is it only you?

claw2 Fri 04-Oct-13 15:58:43

Wow seriously all this over a bit of homework!

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 16:00:37

even in the face of a level 3 inspection result it was flagrantly portrayed as ofsted tightening up their procedures

If they've done that in writing, then they have signed their own death warrant at the next inspection. Capacity to Improve, Mr/Ms Head and Mr/Ms Chair of Governors? Oh, I see that your response to a `3' three years ago was to publish a prospectus saying everything was OK and the `3' was purely an artefact of assessment. Could you describe what else you did to respond? Nothing? I seeeeeee....

exactly friday - oh and we see you finally did get round to writing an equalities action plan and yet your alleged aims are directly contradicted by your actual practices and you seem to be under the impression that 'discrimination' is limited to bullying by children without any understanding or addressing of systematic discrimination or indirect discrimination by things like err... setting homework that relies upon the input of a native english speaking, middle class, educated parent in order for it to have any meaningful outcome...

for those going 'oh it's just a bit of homework' i suggest you broaden your view or consider the idea that if education or equality and diversity or even sociology 101 are not specialist subjects of yours you may just possibly not understand the context and implications of what you're scoffing at.

yes friday - in writing - in the prospectus and brushed over with, given they've upped the bar and are now just basing everything on ks2 outcomes (the schools are relatively actually due to their intake) we're really pleased that ofsted have said lots of positive things about us. total failure to acknowledge and address where they 'need improvement' (real meaning of a level 3).

the end is nigh i'm guessing unless ofsted colludes in brushing village school complacency and discrimination under the carpet.

oh and according to heads my boss spoke to and gave the context and outline to they'll be screwed next ofsted.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 17:18:30

I agree, OP, that number bond question is totally crap homework.

thanks bonsoir. it's disconcerting when you get the 'my 8wo embryo could do that homework and accompany it with an interactive power point presentation' shite from the deluded.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 17:36:51

Learning number facts is slightly dull but at least has the merit of offering up awfully obvious homework in the form of different sorts of repetition. Making it into some kind of open ended creative activity is wildly off the mark.

BalloonSlayer Fri 04-Oct-13 17:40:02

Well when my eldest was 6 I had no idea what number bonds were. I know what they are now, but mainly because a good friend whose DC was struggling mentioned it.

So I would not have been able to help with that homework.

I agree that it is so much for the parents that parents with extremely busy jobs/ lots of children/ a new baby / something heavy going on in their lives would not be able to cope with it. When my Dad was dying and I was driving 3 hours almost every day to see him, something like that would have sent me over the edge.

Education should be on a level playing field, with everyone having the same advantages. Getting parents to do teaching at home makes a mockery of that.

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 17:57:18

"from the deluded."

It is really interesting, the different value that you and I put on different types of homework - possibly due to our different children, possibly because for you it is a symptom of a deeper issue with a school (which i entirely understand - when I was unhappy with DS's first school, the one that turned him into a selective mute, I too reached the irrational point of 'I hate the way you sleep lying down', where everything they do is intensely irritating / upsetting.)

I would never help DS with spellings - spelling tests are a wholly useless process when it comes to actually learning to spell in context. He (and incidentally I, but that's not the point, because it's his homework and he does it) would hate the '10 sums' type of homework because it is 'capped' in terms of attainment and thus is wholly useless for the very able.

He would enjoy the 'research together' type homework, but that is much more meaningful when they are a bit older and can read and assess everything that they find. He would have loved, loved, loved the homework that your school set - you see it as undifferentiated, he would see it as 'uncapped', and that is rare in Maths at primary.

I still haven't seen you answer my basic 'from the teacher's point of view' question - did your child read the homework and have a bash at it, and what did he do unaided before you stepped in?

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 18:00:20

"you see it as undifferentiated, he would see it as 'uncapped', and that is rare in Maths at primary"

And maybe there is a good reason for that?

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 18:05:51

And I still don't understand why this homework had a greater element of 'teaching at home' than e.g. spellings, or sums, or research.

Could your son access it (ie read the instructions)? Did HE know what a number bond was? Does HE often do maths on a plain sheet / small whiteboard? As I suspect that the answers to all of those was 'yes', then there was no necessity for ANY teaching at home, just an amount of time set aside and a 'well done' when something was completed.

I have experience of setting homework for very SEN children (my last class before I moved school had 2 statemented children and 8 more on the SEN register) and for children who have no literate adult in the family. I also have experience of how schools disceetly assist those children (which wouldn't be visible to you, and i am sure that you would see the homework as undifferentiated).

One of the homeworks I always used to get 100% returns for was 'show as many ways as you can think of to make 12' - I think I mentioned that above. I got drawings of 12 objects or dots in different piles from the least able, and more sophisticated calculations from the more able.

I appreciate that the main issue here is in fact the school's general attitude and perhaps lack of ambition to improve. I also appreciate that this homework is the 'straw that broke' the proverbial camel. However i am not deluded when i state that my DS really would have flown with such homework, and not when I say that very open-ended homework can be completed very satisfactorily by the least able, even without parental support, when teaching is good.

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 18:09:00


More able writers in primary can show their ability daily - most writing tasks are 'uncapped' so a child can attempt them at different levels and e.g. write using complex senrences, sophisticated vocabulary etc, thuys showing everything that you can do.

Able mathematicians have a very different experience. If you only ever ask a child questions about addition to 20, you will never discover that, in fact, they could add and subtract into 34 digits, or decimals, or negative numbers. A more able mathematician only set closed tasks has no way of demonstrating their true ability - what right do teachers have to deny an opportunity to a subset of children that they give daily to another subset?

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 18:12:26

Sorry, I meant 3 or 4 , but 34 makes the point equally well!

DS's first parents' evening report said that he could count to 20 well and knew his number bonds to 10. When I pointed out that he could count up and down as high as you wanted him to, in 10s, 5s, 2s, including down into negative numbers, and could add and subtract 3 digit numbers mentally, they said 'oh well, we wouldn't know that because we would never ask questions like that'.

(You may believe me or not that DS could do that at rising 5. He could, and i have the EYFS report that says so, too....)

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 18:12:56

A primary school teacher shouldn't be spending her time in mathematics ensuring DC have the opportunity to show her the learning they have gleaned outside the classroom, but rather getting them to move ahead with the curriculum, ensuring all concepts are firmly embedded.

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 18:13:44

(Because once I had pointed out what DS could do, his teacher joined in the 'challenge DS' game with gusto and really enjoyed finding out the further borders of his knowledge)

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 18:14:51

Bonsoir, so you are saying that all able mathematicians should be bored witless, while all able writers are allowed challenge. Surely not. And I thought that you were in support of challenge for the more able?

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 18:15:15

She shouldn't be spending her time on that. No wonder teachers complain they are overworked if they spend their time testing the frontiers of the DCs' achievements.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 18:16:24

No of course not. Schools' business is to teach the curriculum and English schools allow teachers to move children ahead at their own pace on the curriculum. That's what they need to concentrate on.

teacherwith2kids Fri 04-Oct-13 18:17:35

DS did move ahead with the curriculum. It just wasn't the normal EYFS curriculum. Like other good teachers, his reception teacher found out what he could do, what he needed to do next - for example, his number was always good but his symmetry weak - and showed him how to get there. He didn't 'glean' the information outside the classroom, he was a voracious explorer of all things numerical - he discovered negative numbers through an obsession with football scores. A year or so before he started school we had to read VERY number we passed on ANY walk...sadly i can still remember the number of our 5 nbearest telegraph poles in our old village!