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Is there a way of handling lack of homework?

(145 Posts)
PastSellByDate Sat 15-Dec-12 08:49:35

Dear all:

I'm well known here for grumbling about unimaginative and limited homework at DDs' school. Thus my hesitation to go into battle yet again about lack of homework. So I'd like to explain our situation and see what you Mumsnetters think about this:

Since Gove announced that he was removing guidance on homework our school has been 'reviewing' their homework policy. We parents received a letter in September saying that they were reviewing what homework would be offered and that spelling would move from a weekly list of words to more investigative work (i.e. making words verbs or adjectives, learning rules for certain groups of words - i.e. -ough words), etc... They also announced that there would be a parent/ staff meeting one evening (which was well attended) to discuss what parents wanted from homework and what the schools views on homework were (that was nearly 2 months ago).

It's the last week of term and still absolutely nothing from the school about what their homework policy will be.

Both DDs get a maths sheet (~10 minutes work, if that) and regularly get library books to read from school. No written work (writing a review, a letter, etc...). No topical work: researching a historical period, learning more about a topic, etc... And no investigative spelling work - unforutnately.

The school is proposing a grid (5 x 5) with options for homeworks which are entirely optional for each child to do - but children would get a merit for completing 5 a month. Each month a new grid would be issued.

Am I being unreasonable (AIBU) to think this shouldn't be taking so long?

Are other teachers/ schools struggling to come up with homework policy like ours?

Are schools opting to offer less homework now that government guidance on homework is removed?

Thanks for any input - I'm really struggling not to complain - but I'm completely astounded this is so difficult to organise.

mrz Sat 15-Dec-12 09:23:16

All the current research shows that homework in primary schools has no benefit to the child.

ohfunnyface Sat 15-Dec-12 09:26:26

I would find out the topics in class and investigate it with my child in a fun way together.

No need for it to be formal homework, promotes learning for fun and self improvement and work can be shown to the teacher if you wish.

FestiveWench Sat 15-Dec-12 09:28:07

What Mrz said.

This will be a low priority for the staff because they will be aware that it will have minimal impact on attainment compared with changes that they are likely to be making with the school day.

beautifulgirls Sat 15-Dec-12 09:30:50

Schools will never please all the parents. Nothing to stop you choosing topics and following them up at home in your own way though if you want to push your kids.

Panzee Sat 15-Dec-12 09:34:54

I hate homework. Hate setting it, hate marking it.

KateBeckett Sat 15-Dec-12 09:41:54

The school I teach in sets homework of the type you would like.

At parents eve I had at least 4 parents complaining it wasn't lists of spelling words and worksheets instead!

Homework at primary doesn't really benefit the child education wise - I see it more as a way to instill a love of learning. There are lots of things you could do with your child independently which would have that effect smile

mrz Sat 15-Dec-12 09:43:07

Emandlu Sat 15-Dec-12 09:44:11

I would deal with a lack of homework by doing something fun with the kids instead of having to battle them into homework.

Homework is totally pointless at primary school level and so they just don't need it.

MagdaMagyarMadam Sat 15-Dec-12 09:48:54

I am thinking of all my classmates who went to top class universities, who along with me, didn't get one scrap of homework until secondary school.

Thankfully DTDs reception teacher only sends a book home for extra practise, and I am amazed at how they have progressed in the first term of school.

What I like is that it is fun and not overly arduous. Let's face it, if you are at work then you probably only have a couple of hours maximum with them before they're in bed.

I, for one, am glad that homework in primary schools is being reviewed as I think that some schools set a ridiculous amount. Just like adults, children need some down time and the opportunity to pursue their own interests.

However, I do acknowledge that not every parent provides or supports a stimulating and learning environment in the home. Perhaps teachers should set some tasks for parents rather than children, now that would be interesting!

MrsPnut Sat 15-Dec-12 09:49:48

DD2 loves learning and loves researching her own topics and writing about them but formal homework is something we rush through as quickly as we possibly can.

She's 6 and her favourite way to spend time is to use Phonics play on the computer.

ShipwreckedUnderTheTree Sat 15-Dec-12 10:01:53

I don't remember getting homework until I was about 10, at least. I still got my degree in the end... It is pointless!!

I do make sure my kids do the homework set to the best of their ability in support of the teacher and to avoid sending a message to the DC that they can get away with not doing it.

However, I do think they need evenings to relax, rest do other clubs.

lljkk Sat 15-Dec-12 10:42:33

I think you can set them exercises at home if you think they would benefit. It's not hard to do & you can taylor it well to their weaknesses & interests. Better than school-set homework. I have done this, a bit, worked well, I think.

PastSellByDate Sat 15-Dec-12 11:10:55

Thanks for input all and link mrz.

I was aware of Sutton Trust work on this and the general conclusion that homework in primary is not of significant help - also aware the issue is teacher time. The link to Focus on education and teaching homework guidance: from the sutton trust report does say that homework with good feedback makes a difference.

Our context is a primary school which 8 - 10 years ago regularly achieved 90%+ achieving NC Level 4 or better at KS2 SATs which has now declined to between 72% - 62% (2012 result 62%) in last 4 years (NB data from 2010 withheld - but our understanding is it was 68% achieved L4). We've lived in the area for 15 years and can genuinely certify that the nature of parents/ their employment/ number of children/ etc... really hasn't changed radically in this time, yet the school's performance is continuously declining.

Maybe more homework is too simplistic - and the trouble is with the school staff - but what would you advise against this climate of declining performance and the school not obviously doing a whole lot to turn this around. They generally blame foreign students - who in fact when you get down to it are doing a lot extra (e.g. Chinese & Korean students are getting extra maths/ science/ english work through their language/ cultural schools attended at weekends).

It's very hard as a parent to learn that the school down the road had all the children write 'persuasive letters' to people they admire (writers, people off tv, sports heros, etc...) and although all of the people written to declined to come to a school assembly, they all sent pictures or gifts to the pupils. One of our DD1's friends was absolutely ecstatic with the signed photo and pencil she received. I just felt wow what a great idea - why doesn't our school think of doing things like this? The teacher & TAs apparently read through each letter - correcting layout, spelling, grammar as necessary and discussing any mistakes with the child and then they sent the letters off.

Maybe my annectdotal evidence is unfair but it seems that friends who are pleased with their child's school and are at schools with good results have regular and interesting homework assigned and those of us worried for our children's progress and doing extra at home have irregular and often unimaginative homework.

I'm not sure whether I agree with the US link suggesting homework time should by 10 minutes x grade (so year 5 would be 50 minutes a week). But that's 40 more minutes of thinking, imagining and working than DD1 is currently getting and cummulatively over 36 weeks that's 24 hours (= nearly 1 week's worth of school), which if well designed could give focused extending and consolading practice of school work. [NB I don't include reading time in this, which I think children should be doing anyway for pleasure/ relaxation/ fun - but accept in some cases where children are reluctant/ struggling it may be actual 'homework'].

TheElfOnThePanopticon Sat 15-Dec-12 11:36:35

The school my children goes to only sets reading/spellings/tables homework until Years 5/6 when children do a bit to help prepare for secondary school. I am extremely happy with this ad I would far rather my daughter spent her free time developing her own interests.

PastSellByDate Sat 15-Dec-12 12:33:47

Hi Elf:

70% of Y5 have not fully mastered their times tables and are reading at NC Level 3.

In that context would you really be happy about lack of homework?

PastSellByDate Sat 15-Dec-12 12:39:30

Oops - left out critical word - NOT

But that's 40 more minutes of thinking, imagining and working than DD1 is currently NOT getting and cummulatively over 36 weeks that's 24 hours (= nearly 1 week's worth of school), which if well designed could give focused extending and consolading practice of school work.

PastSellByDate Sat 15-Dec-12 12:40:33

also would like to know what people think about a school announcing they're looking into homework policy and 4 months later still have produced nothing?

teachers any comments?

parents any comments?

Am I wrong to look at this as hopelessly disorganised?

Is it really that 'tricky' a thing to do?

JWIM Sat 15-Dec-12 12:52:04

I can offer one possible reason why you have not yet seen a policy published - it may be waiting on Gov Body approval. Gov Bodies tend to meet only once or twice a term so the draft policy may be not have been ready when they last met. Can I suggest you ask what progress has been made on the draft policy since the open meeting you referred to?

That said, from what you have posted it would seem that your school may have some 'lack of ambition' for pupils. Have you seen the current school improvement plan? What are the aims for targetted improvement for pupil progress? Your school may not have published the whole plan but the HT should be able to outline the key areas - maybe hold another 'forum' for parents.

Feenie Sat 15-Dec-12 13:13:40

I would deal with it by cheering, both as a parent and a teacher. smile

Feenie Sat 15-Dec-12 13:15:42

70% of Y5 have not fully mastered their times tables and are reading at NC Level 3.

But if course reading is expected at home, and times table practice.

It's all the other stuff that I hate, both when teaching or trying to find time to sit down and do it with my child. It's too hard on top of reading/practising Maths regularly.

Feenie Sat 15-Dec-12 13:16:14

How do you know that statistic, btw, PastSellByDate? hmm

Feenie Sat 15-Dec-12 13:17:40

Leaving Y5 at a 3a/4c is expected progress, btw - not that there shouldn't be high expectations, but 70% at level 3 is not a Bad Thing.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Sat 15-Dec-12 13:19:03

I disagree with primary school homework full stop.

Feenie Sat 15-Dec-12 13:27:08

Even reading, Soupy?

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