Homework at secondary school

(33 Posts)
carefreeeee Fri 22-Jul-16 12:13:07

I recently did some teaching at a secondary school where there was no homework being set in most subjects. If there was it was never collected or marked.

I was teaching pupils of age 15 who were supposed to be amongst the highest achieving in the year group. They certainly seemed very bright and keen, but the standard of written work was appalling, bad punctuation, bad grammar, and illegible handwriting. Plus when asked to do some work at home, pupils seemed to have a complete mental block, even when repeatedly asked to do simple tasks they either failed to produce anything or did it incredibly badly. These are students who participate really well in class and seem very keen! I really did think they had been badly let down by the school to be so incapable - they will really struggle to do further/higher education.

I know too much homework can be counterproductive, but for this age group, not to get them in the habit of doing something at home and especially to get their writing up to standard, seems like negligence. Can anyone who is involved in teaching secondary comment as to whether this is normal?

Autumnsky Fri 22-Jul-16 13:36:12

Homework in secondary school is quite an important part. DS1's private school set homework from Y7, they supposed to have 2-3 subjects homework each day, which is 1-1.5 hrs time. And from what I read from MN, most grammar school set up homework as well.

DH teach in University, he does express that some of his English students' writing skill are really bad, need lots of help in writing the Essay.

kurlique Sun 24-Jul-16 15:32:49

Blimey... I don't think I even know a primary school that doesn't set some homework nowadays. How the heck is a secondary school getting away with that? I think they are really letting down their pupils especially in this new era of independent learning, they need to learn to work independently within a framework of set exercises/tasks.

Davros Sun 24-Jul-16 19:01:28

I have heard this about a couple of state schools, in very different areas, where friends' kids have gone

DoctorDonnaNoble Mon 25-Jul-16 11:22:10

State school here. 2-3 pieces a night from year 7. Amount rises through the years.

katemiddletonsnudeheels Mon 25-Jul-16 11:23:59

I hate homework. I always tried to avoid setting it and when I did it was homework that didn't require marking. I can't say whether it's normal or not, though smile

BerriesandLeaves Mon 01-Aug-16 21:16:07

I would have thought that was unusual. Dd gets lots at her comp. I may have been very tempted to sign dd up if there had been a hwk free secondary locally. wink
I do remember a German teacher at my grammar who set no hwk, but was a very good teacher. She was very thorough and tested us regularly to identify any gaps and we progressed well. Not sure it would have worked for all subjects though.

LockedOutOfMN Mon 01-Aug-16 23:03:34

Hi, OP, secondary teacher here (English is my subject). I think it's very rare that schools don't set homework.

I set the following homeworks throughout the academic year:

Year 7 and 8 - 2 homeworks per week. 1 is always reading (I say minimum 45 mins. for Y7 and 1 hr. for Y8 then writing in their reading logs) and the other is a written task taking approx. 30 mins. connected to whatever we're studying.

Year 9 - 1 homework per week, approx. 45 mins. They're expected to read and update reading logs regularly too.

Years 10 and 11 - 2 homeworks per week, approx. 45 mins. each (one for Lang. and one for Lit.)

Sixth form - we suggest 5 hours independent study per week per subject which might be reading, writing their own notes, researching or drafting coursework, researching contextual factors of their set writers or set texts, writing essays, preparing presentations or simply revising.

At my school we have a policy whereby students' homework must be marked by a teacher at least once every two weeks. I tend to mark most if not all homework but other teachers do self or peer assessment on the alternate weeks, (or some tasks might not require "marking" per se e.g. revising for a test, research, making notes, group work towards a presentation or poster, etc.)

I remember reading in the last 6 to 12 months about a school somewhere in the south of England (from memory Brighton maybe?) that didn't set homework but instead had after school clubs where students could work with teacher support. Parents, students and teachers loved it. For some reason the school was more or less forced (I can't remember by whom? Ofsted??) to start setting homework and everyone was very disappointed. (Sorry not to be more specific with details of this case!)

As far as I can remember, the Sutton report found that homework had a marginal positive effect on pupils' progress. (Happy to be wrong on this one, again, relying on ever less reliable memory).

bojorojo Tue 02-Aug-16 14:04:46

I think homework and preparing for the next lesson can be very productive for older pupils and is especially good prep for university. I think the Sutton Trust found that poorly set homework was not effective, but targeted, appropriately set and marked homework can contribute at secondary level. Primary is another matter. I think it is vital for 6th form. I am surprised a secondary school does not have a homework and marking policy.

If pupils cannot write effectively, op, then they perhaps need help with that!

Badbadbunny Tue 02-Aug-16 14:32:35

My DS does far better with teachers who regularly set homework. Classic case was Maths. Years 7 and 9 were teachers who'd regularly set homework, maybe 20 minutes twice per week to reinforce what they'd done in lessons. In both years, he got over 90% in the year end tests. Year 8 was a lazy teacher who only set 1 homework for the entire year - end of year test score was 57%. DS knew the methodology but completely rusty.

Same happened with English. Same lazy teacher in years 7 and 9 who set barely anything - just the occasional "continue reading your book". End of year test scores, 53% and 61%. But year 8 was a teacher who regularly set/marked written work and end of year test score was 89%.

I could go on as similar has happened in science subjects too.

As the school uses an online homework system, you can see which teachers set homework and which don't - quite a contrast in the same subjects where one teacher does and another doesn't - not quite sure how that can happen for the same subject in the same school - surely the HOD should have/enforce some kind of standardisation for their teachers?

LockedOutOfMN Tue 02-Aug-16 16:56:22

Badbadbunny Perhaps worth asking for a copy of the school's homework and marking policies?

Bojorojo You're spot on about Sutton Trust and homework. My memory was hazy.

pointythings Tue 02-Aug-16 19:55:58

Reading logs in secondary? Way to turn kids off reading forever...

At the DDs' comp they have to bring in a reading book every day and they read in class, either during English or during tutor time, but no logs required.

Homework varies - often 2 pieces per week for English and Maths, one each for the sciences, every other week but bigger for History and Geography, longer term projects for Art and DT. It works reasonably well, though there are times when the coordination is lost and there will be a week of almost nothing followed by a week of insane amounts. Teachers are mostly reasonable about it though.

I think homework at secondary is useful up to a point in terms of teaching independent working and research skills, but there has to be a work-life balance.

LockedOutOfMN Tue 02-Aug-16 21:42:51

Sorry you think that, pointythings, in my experience I've found the opposite to be true. What subject / age groups do you teach?

pointythings Tue 02-Aug-16 22:11:02

I don't teach. I am the parent of two voracious readers who really, really hated having to do reading logs in primary. They are now both in secondary - going into Yr 9 and 11 - so have had to do a lot of analytical reading and pulling texts apart at school. They both still love reading and do it for pleasure every single day, but if they had to keep reading logs on top of the work they already do in English, I think that would end.

I know that there are issues around kids not reading at home, but there have to be better ways than this. I'm also very glad our school does not do the Accelerated Reader programme.

eyebrowsonfleek Wed 03-Aug-16 10:11:04

I'm a parent of a child in that year group who's top set.

He gets plenty of homework but doesn't complete it to his best ability.

He completes homework in order to avoid hassle from his teachers and me. From KS2 he's been at schools where incomplete homework leads to being forced to complete it at lunch/break. At secondary, repeatedly incomplete homework means a detention after school and he wants to walk home with friends so wants to avoid that too.

At the moment he is not bothered by lacklustre test scores either as they don't "count" like his GCSEs. He's gotten away with studying for tests at the last minute and doing fine and will probably continue to do so. He did a GCSE this summer (a year early) and I'm keenly awaiting to see if he got away with it again. It would probably be a fantastic life lesson if he did worse than his mock but we'll have to see.

LockedOutOfMN Wed 03-Aug-16 21:35:35

I don't teach. I am the parent of two voracious readers

Thanks for clarifying.

bojorojo Thu 04-Aug-16 11:06:12

Anyone taking an exam early should get an A* or why bother? Anything less and it won't tell you much other than he should have taken the exam when he had matured a bit! I have high expectations though!

Ditsyprint40 Thu 04-Aug-16 11:11:43

I thought it's proven there's no real impact on achievement from homework. Don't have the evidence to back this but might have a look!

Badbadbunny Thu 04-Aug-16 13:21:07

Anyone taking an exam early should get an A or why bother?*

I've never understood why anyone would take an exam early unless they were guaranteed an A or A*.

My niece took her Maths GCSE a year early because the teachers told her she was already working a C grade standard so no point in doing another year as she couldn't get a higher grade at foundation stage and she could spend the time on other subjects instead as a C was a "pass". So, basically, the school was just aiming for C grades. Nothing said about how another year's of tuition may enable her to achieve a B or A which would enhance her further education/career prospects!

I really can't understand that mindset at all. These days, everyone is in a race and exam grades are important. FE courses and jobs may have a "minimum standard" of C or above in Maths etc., but they've still only limited numbers of places and lower grades will put someone further down the list behind other applicants with better grades.

Artandco Thu 04-Aug-16 14:50:39

I think homework is important. I have only primary school age but I think it's good they get homework now also as they they get into a good habit of doing it so they hopefully aren't so shocked at secondary

ApocalypseSlough Thu 04-Aug-16 14:53:26

That was the norm in failing schools 20+ years ago I taught badly in one but I'm amazed it's still the case.

BertrandRussell Thu 04-Aug-16 15:02:28

My dad went to a high performing grammar school which had a policy of very little homework. The line was that they worked very hard during the day,no there was no need for it. They were sometimes asked to prepare for the next day's lesson, or individuals were given practice in something they hadn't understood or they were asked to finish off something they hadn't the had time for- but not much apart from that.

Davros Sun 07-Aug-16 08:54:17

What I really hate is holiday homework. DD is overloaded with it and it spoils our holidays. At Easter she had something like 30 pages of maths and they were told there would be big trouble if they didn't do it. I've no idea if it even got marked properly, I don't see how it could. She also had a fair number of other things. I don't know what she's got over the summer, will look when we get back from holiday. Luckily she turned a corner in year 8 and will get on and do it having been an avoider, screamer and pita for years. One local private girls school where friends' girls go NEVER have holiday homework and it's a high achieving school, grrrr

Badbadbunny Sun 07-Aug-16 20:38:13

What I really hate is holiday homework.

Ironically, our DS never gets holiday homework - it's the school policy not to set any - but we'd love him to be set it. The school sets a lot of homework, often with 2/3 large projects set around the same time, so some weeks he's working hour after hour after hour and getting quite stressed about it all. It would really help if they changed the timescales so the kids had a choice as to whether to do big projects in term or holiday time, i.e. set a couple of weeks before a holiday, to be handed in straight after a holiday - best of both worlds and gives the pupils a choice depending on what they're doing over the holidays. There is at least a half term every 5-8 weeks, so I'm sure most teachers could structure their big homework projects to be somewhere near a holiday.

deepdarkwood Sun 07-Aug-16 20:49:34

Wow, i've never heard of a secondary that doesn't set homework - I would imagine it's pretty unusual? Ds' (state) school set about 1-1.5 hour per day last year (Y7)

Incidentally, they are also expected to record 1 hour reading per week and have a specific 'reading lesson' once a week, when they choose books/read and also complete online quizes for any completed books. Ds (voracious reader) loves it - completing the record takes 2 mins each time he reads his school reading book, and each time they complete a quiz on a book, their reading level can shift upwards, and then they can choose books at a higher level. Ds and his mates have become quite competitive about it.... It's actually much more structured than the last few years of primary were (although they are allowed lots of flexibility e.g. to continue a series they are enjoying) The teacher also really helps them to choose interesting books that she thinks they will enjoy - ds has been steered towards a few books he wouldn't normally have chosen/that have really pushed him. I was a bit unsure but it was all worked brilliantly.

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