Homework: research based evidence

(37 Posts)
Verbena37 Tue 06-Oct-15 15:49:50

Hi,
After searching long and hard, I still can't find any evidence that affirms that primary age children MUST do homework.

Can anyone point me in the right direction of an actual recent policy (not DFES guidelines) that's says primary kids have to do homework?

RubberDuck Tue 06-Oct-15 15:53:25

No, but I found this:

www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0141192990250304

"The findings indicated that the highest test scores were achieved by those pupils who reported doing homework ‘once a month’ in each of the core subjects. Homework reported more frequently than ‘once a month’ was generally associated with lower attainment. Multilevel models that controlled for important variables did not lend support to the ‘more is better’ view of homework. Our contention is that the assumptions about the value of homework (largely derived from secondary school practice and experience) should not be automatically ‘grafted on’ to primary practice. More serious consideration should be given to the nature and frequency of homework setting in primary schools."

eddiemairswife Tue 06-Oct-15 16:49:24

My memory is that during the 1st Tony Blair government it was recommended that primary schools give homework that needed active parental input to enable parents to become involved in their children's learning. Since then many primary schools have developed a homework policy, but I don't think it has ever been made compulsory.

Verbena37 Tue 06-Oct-15 17:20:11

There is surely something written down that states it's not obligatory. Perhaps the only documented thing are the guidelines on the dept. ed site.
I just wanted something in writing to keep to bring out as proof as and when needed.

tricot39 Tue 06-Oct-15 19:46:27

John Hattie's meta study called Visible Learning is maybe more useful. Sorry on my phone I can only find this summary here of 10 key points but homework is included: Homework has been found to have no effect on the progress of primary school children. To get it right without getting rid of it, children at primary level should be given less projects and more activities that reinforce what they learnt in the lesson that day instead. Whilst homework does make more of a difference to secondary schoolchildren, too much emphasis is placed on it; 5-10 minutes of practising what was taught that day at school has the same effect as 1-2 hours does

In other words homework for its own sake is of little value whereas targeted homework to reinforce the school learning (eg times tables, phonic sounds etc) helps children's learning.

I understood that homework is at the discretion of the school rather than being a DfE requirement?

futureme Tue 06-Oct-15 19:50:53

Did you see the "no homework" thread, I can't remember the title. The few of us arguing that homework was pointless were being shouted down sad

I've even heard educated mums locally arguing how good a school is... because it sets homework.

We have a new head and I think more homeowrk is coming. As a teacher and a parent I want to rebel against it so much. I really am fed up with how education is going here currently. I have friend in Australia and scotland and it seems so much less target driven or pressured for the students (admittedly I think Australia would have difficulties for other reasons but I do like the freedom on the whole.)

mrz Tue 06-Oct-15 20:11:32

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17250653

Verbena37 Tue 06-Oct-15 20:19:07

That's the thing though mrz.....I read about how decision of what to set was devolved to HTs but there must be some statutory document that says whether or not they have to....or is it just guidelines? There must be a legal policy stating that all children must do HW if that's the case.

I realise that devolved to HTs could mean they set nothing at all but having seen lots of HTs in action, I'm thinking they would vote for rather than against HW in the majority of cases.

Autumnsky Wed 07-Oct-15 10:18:35

To be honest, I don't think there should be a rule about home work. Let's forget about home work, let's call it practice.

Children learn a new theory, they need practice to really understand it. Howerever, children are different. Some children maybe only need to practice once to get it, some children maybe have to practice a few times. Ideally, children can learn and practice it all in the school time. However, there is only limit time during school hour,some children may not have enough practice time. Also, as there is only 1 teacher and 1 teacher assistant, for 30 children, sometimes it is hard for the teacher to know every one to see if they fully grasp the stuff taught.

So, by doing some homework at home, children get practice, also, parents can check the answer or check teacher's marking to know the weak area, so can help if needed.

For primary school, the stuff to be learn is simple, that's why there is no need for homework for some children. But you have to accept, if your children is below average, you have to get them practice more at home to catch up if you care about their education.

For some able parents, no matter there is homework or not, they can always help, they find stuff to do themselves. But for some parents, they don't know about education system much, the homework set up at school would help them to help their children.

Autumnsky Wed 07-Oct-15 10:42:04

In our area, our primary school is good by ofsted. We don't have any home work except reading in infant, has 1 piece of home work per week since Y3. By Key stage 2, end of Y6 , the pass rate( the old system, I think is 4b) is around 75%.

There is another primary school in the another area which is close to us. Their students background are similar to us. Their rating is outstanding. They have 98% pass rate by Key stage 2. I have friends' children in that school, that school has more practice work than us. I wouldn't say home work, as the practice can help at school or at home. Their reading book can be changed everyday form end of Reception, they do the worksheet at school, and has homework to follow up from Y1.

To be honest, I think it is OK to send my DC to our primary school, as I am able to make sure that DC is on track. If I can't, I will definitely try to send my DC to the other school, as school would take care of it.

Verbena37 Wed 07-Oct-15 13:37:42

If you think about it though Autumnsky, adults in the most part, don't carry on with working once home at night (yes I realise some do). Why should kids who go to school from 9/3:30 come home and have to crack on with more school work?

Surely, until about yr 7, apart from reading and tables, why is there a need to do a poster on foods your gran ate during the war or write a report on how sedimentary rocks form in the Grand Canyon (yr 4 work!).

They are children and won't be children for long.....let them play and relax and interact with their mates after school.....not sit them down (for three hours at a time with DS who refuses to do HW) and prevent them playing.

It just isn't needed.

sunnydayinmay Wed 07-Oct-15 13:49:27

Verbena - that has always been my way of thinking, but we simply have very clear homework time, and then its done.

The main advantages I can see are that:
1. It makes the transition to secondary easier. To go from no homework to 60-90 mins per night would be a huge shock;
2. The type of homework you are talking about is quite interesting (well, I think so!) and is better than pages and pages of similar questions in workbooks etc.

Verbena37 Wed 07-Oct-15 14:02:51

That's where DS's issues are I think. If there was a workbook type scenario or set questions and he just had to go down the page and put an answer for each, I think it might actually be less stressful. It's when he has to sit and make something up or do a free thought piece of HW that it gets more stressful.

eddiemairswife Wed 07-Oct-15 14:13:17

It used to be considered part of growing up to have homework once you started secondary school. None of my contemporaries or my children found it a 'massive shock'. I can't speak for my grandchildren as they are part of 'the homework generation'.

AndLeavesthatweregreenturnedto Wed 07-Oct-15 19:23:31

same here eddie, I went from no work in class at all and certainly no HW to lots of each and it was fine. It was what I had to do so did it.

My dd has never put any effort into her HW and is L3 in year 2 most things and is great writer and so on. Her HW has never helped her achieve that its been a right royal pain in the arse!

tricot39 Wed 07-Oct-15 19:56:00

I suppose it comes down to that 10,000 hours theory ( albeit on a smaller scale). Put in the practice and you will get better/make quicker progress than if you don't. I don't think the Chinese schooling system has all the answers but they do have long days and that extra time means they progress faster than uk pupils (as that C4 program highlighted). Quality time in school counts and Eton's old headmaster makes interesting comments on this - they do a lot of teaching in the morning, sports in the afternoon and then head back to class/learning from 6.30 and he thinks that extra time really adds up. I don't suppose all homework is always pitched perfectly which is maybe why the research doesn't give a clear picture!

futureme Wed 07-Oct-15 20:40:36

But Eton isn't actually doing extra time is it in that case? They have sports in the pm which state schools don't do - in effect just moving the pm school session to the evening.

Autumnsky Thu 08-Oct-15 11:04:06

First, I think homework should be closely linked to what have learned in the classroom. And I have said in my previous post, some children may not need it, as they grasp the stuff taught very quickly. Some children may need it. Maybe school should provide homework , but make it not compulsory. So the children who need it can get it. I think extra time is certainly a way to help the below average children gain a solid foundation.

As for us, DS2 never had homework in infant school, now he is in Y3, he has one homework per week, and it is closely linked to what he is learning at the moment. The math one takes him 10 minutes to do it, but I can see he won't get 100% without my help, so it is nice I sit with him to see what he is good at and what he still need to practice to understand. He did have the recording what we eat one homework as well, but I know it is closely linked to the food group and healthy eating they are talking at school.

AndLeavesthatweregreenturnedto Thu 08-Oct-15 11:42:49

And factor in far far longer holidays at eton too.

Millymollymama Thu 08-Oct-15 15:21:35

75% at Level 4 is not very good, to be frank. However, this may represent very good progress for your school. It is not all about SATS outcomes.

There is a massive difference between the hours taught in top independent schools and lots of state schools. My DDs had a school day of 8.20am to 4.30pm with quite a log lunch break though where more activities were done. Then sport and clubs anfter school. Then prep. A set time to do this.

At primary level I think all children should practice what they have learnt, to some extent. Even children who are doing "mastery" extension work in the new curriculum. They might have grasped the basic concepts but everyone can improve and practice something to get better. Research has shown that reading is the most important "homework". It is also the time when most parents can get involved with the work their child is doing and feel part of their child's education.

One of my daughters went to state primary where they did no homework at all. Fortuately she was a hard worker and was happy to do homework at senior school and fortunately was bright enough to do it in the time allowed. Other children in her primary class really struggled at the local grammar schools though because they had no prior experience of doing homework and spent huge periods of time at the weekend doing it - or trying to dodge it!It was a big culture shock.

A middle way is best - I think.

RubberDuck Fri 09-Oct-15 08:30:53

I'm curious how a request for scientific evidence about the benefits of homework in primary school has ended up being a collection of anecdotes, many of which based around Eton (a secondary school) grin

Exactly what the only paper I found cautioned about. "Our contention is that the assumptions about the value of homework (largely derived from secondary school practice and experience) should not be automatically ‘grafted on’ to primary practice. "

Verbena37 Fri 09-Oct-15 08:36:32

I thought that Rubberduck.
I really wanted to find a DFES doc or something that stated it either had to be done or wasn't obligatory type thing.

RubberDuck Fri 09-Oct-15 08:37:42

Interestingly, studies on how people of all ages learn have shown that downtime and sleep, eating well, exercise are all as important for forming the neural pathways associated with new skills/knowledge as focused work. We need creative diffuse-mode thinking as much as the focused mode.

Are (still very young) children getting enough downtime to make the progress they need?

RubberDuck Fri 09-Oct-15 08:42:28

It looks like in 1998 there was a policy that primary school should set homework, which was very controversial: www.ljc.ea.argyll-bute.sch.uk/sites/default/files/Should_Schools_Set_Homework.pdf

Though in 2012 this was scrapped, leaving it up to headteachers to set their own rules: www.theguardian.com/education/2012/mar/04/homework-guidelines-scrapped

So, I suppose if your school says they "have" to do it. They have to do it sad

futureme Fri 09-Oct-15 08:46:27

That's interesting RubberDuck about the downtime/sleep etc.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now