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Homework in national curriculum and ofsted inspections

(23 Posts)
NecessaryCoffee Tue 13-Sep-16 14:13:28

Our school has just implemented a old fashioned (to my mind) homework policy. The head is claiming that the DfE, national curriculum specify the requirement for homework; and the ofsted will look for evidence of homework during inspection.

I have tried looking at DfE, national curriculum and ofsted on web but cant find info on homework requirements. Could anyone help me by providing the links?
It's an LEA primary if thats pertinent.

Not interested in the pros and cons of homework (right now), but I want to fact check the head.

PatriciaHolm Tue 13-Sep-16 14:43:29

There are no statutory guidelines for homework. There used to be guidelines, but they were scrapped in 2012.

The only mention in the August 2016 OFSTED guidance about homework is within grade descriptors - so for Outstanding, for example, it says

"Teachers set challenging homework, in line with the school’s policy and as appropriate for the age and stage of pupils, that consolidates learning, deepens understanding and prepares pupils very well for work to come."

Schools do not have to set homework. However, if they do, it needs to be appropriate for the needs of the pupils and the OFSTED inspectors will look for proof of that. The Head seems to be interpreting this grade descriptor as a "must have", but it's not - schools don't have to tick every box in the checklist to get Outstanding.

There is no legal requirement that compels a school to set homework, or any requirement about what that homework should be (e.g. "10 spellings a week"). With the requirements of the new curriculum, I suspect it's a rare school that sets none these days though, and if they don't set any OFSTED will again need to be satisfied that that strategy works for their children.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 13-Sep-16 14:48:04

Are you a governor?

bojorojo Tue 13-Sep-16 16:00:47

Ofsted do not look for homework during an inspection, but they do look for an Assessment Policy (written by the school, for the school and consistently applied) that caters for different subjects, different age groups and pupils in different ways in order to be effective and promote learning. The Head could reasonably argue that homework is part of promoting learning within different age groups, subjects and using a variety of methods. For example, homework can demonstrate independent learning. The latest Inspection Framework is quite clear on what they do want to see (accuracy of assessment of progress and attainment) but how it is done is up to the school.

The Head and Governors can rewrite the Homework Policy if they believe it promotes learning but saying it is due to other factors is incorrect. The new curriculum has introduced new concepts and perhaps there is a need to ask pupils to practice concepts at home or it could be that the Head is concerned about progress, and feels homework would help. There is no right or wrong, just professional opinions.

irvineoneohone Tue 13-Sep-16 16:24:50

My ds's school says homework is a must for ofsted as well.
IME, it's totally pointless, some were ok, but some of them I just couldn't believe it was given to my ds. Unless the teachers spend time differentiate, what's the point of setting it, I wonder. It seems like total waste of time for teacher to mark it.

bojorojo Tue 13-Sep-16 16:28:02

It should be set "in order to promote learning". What was wrong with the homework so that your DS could not learn from it, irvineoneohone?

mrz Tue 13-Sep-16 16:54:16

There is no requirement for schools to set homework

irvineoneohone Tue 13-Sep-16 18:51:12

bojorojo, it was mostly maths. Colour the 1/2 of shape, 1/3 of shape, 1/4 of shape etc., when he can easily do +,=,x,/ with different dinominators, or times tables when he knew all before reception. Something like that. The school knows his ability because they gave him LV4 for end ks1 year ago, but he always got same homework as everyone else.Hoping it will change this year.
We had some research based open ended ones(science/history), which was good, but they had maths ones almost every week.

NecessaryCoffee Tue 13-Sep-16 19:55:51

Just been to a parents' welcome meeting where we were told there was a legal requirement in the national curriculum for 45mins of homework a week (yr 3/4).

mrz Tue 13-Sep-16 20:04:13

That was scrapped when we hit a new government

irvineoneohone Tue 13-Sep-16 21:28:04

Very weird. Our school said it's a requirement. So where are they getting those ideas? Seems like it's not just my ds's school from reading this thread.
I wish our school is clued up like yours, mrz.

tinks269 Tue 13-Sep-16 21:37:31

I am a teacher and at our school our policy is that we do not set homework. I will mention that I work at a special school. However our belief is that school is for learning and after school is for having fun, spending time with family, doing something they enjoy (even if that is just spending hours on a computer). We place possible websites to visit or even suggestions of something they could do if they wanted to do homework on our class webpages and we do as a school recognise pupils individually when they do extra work. But there is no expectation or legal requirement.

Just to add my son's school insists that parents sign a homework policy stating that they will ensure homework is completed. I have explained to his teacher that i have no problem signing this so that they have complete sets of signed documents but neither myself or my husband will force our son to do homework. If he wants to great - if not then fine. I know we do enough real learning when we are out and about and he plays various sports after school where he is learning important life skills.

NecessaryCoffee Tue 13-Sep-16 22:28:26

Can anyone supply a link or name of document which says homework is not requirement of national ciriculam?

mrz Tue 13-Sep-16 22:49:21

tinks269 Tue 13-Sep-16 22:59:37

This link
Has all the statutory guidance. I'm not going to lie I haven't read all of them but as a member of SLT I have read quite a few and although none of them say you don't have to set homework none of them say you do either.

irvineoneohone Tue 13-Sep-16 23:00:01

So it's up to head now then? Nothing to do the NC?
At year group meeting, teachers announced yr4's will have as homework,
reading: everyday for 20 mins.
times table: weekly test
spelling: weekly test
writing: one piece weekly
maths topic: one worksheet every week
+ occasionally topic related home work.
My ds can handle this easily(except writing), but I really think some children may struggle.

tinks269 Tue 13-Sep-16 23:14:22

The Dfe say that schools must have a homework policy but what that says is up to the school.
Ofsted do not check homework but they do check it is set in accordance with the policy.

bemybebe Tue 13-Sep-16 23:15:29

Probably the only positive contribution of Mr Gove was to scrap homework requirements.

NecessaryCoffee Wed 14-Sep-16 11:36:47

Thank you all. Its very interesting!
I think , if pushed, will point out that there is no legal homework requirement. I concide the content of the homework is on national curriculum, but the school should be teaching it not parents (the email we had inferred it was up to us)

bojorojo Wed 14-Sep-16 12:53:36

You will need to consider how the school is "promoting learning" and they are perfectly entitled to set homework within this context. As a PP Governor, I know it is also good practice to set homework to improve learning for those children (The Teaching and Learning Toolkit) , although it is a better intervention at secondary level to promote independent learning. It is often seen as something useful for Y5 and Y6 children to do as they will transfer to secondary school where it is expected.

So although you may not like it, the school has the authority to do it in accordance with its policies. They do not have to consult with parents on the detail of the policy either, so as long as the Governors have agreed the policy and it is does what it sets out to do, then I think you are not really in a position to challenge it and expect success. You can, of course, say your child will not do it.

irvingoneohone - that homework sounds rather pointless. He should be getting homework that meets his learning needs and that level of work is not really suitable. I suggest you speak to his teacher and ask how the homework promotes his learning and aids his progress? It should never be homework set for the whole class if the class has widely varying needs. Can he not be set work to practice what he has been learning or work to stretch him? That is what we do at our school.

bojorojo Wed 14-Sep-16 12:59:35

Whether there is a legal requirement or not, the policy and its existence is still up to the Head and Governors. Parents are not required to teach anything but obviously lots of parents do try and help if their child gets stuck. Why wouldn't you work with the school on this? The child is being taught, they are consolidating their learning via homework. The Y4 homework described above is not that onerous and less than a lot of prep schools would set. I would imagine none of it should take more than 15-20 minutes and schools should not set policies according to the lowest attainers. These children can have expectations modified and as far as PP children are concerned, it is something that improves learning, although it is not the best intervention.

NecessaryCoffee Wed 14-Sep-16 13:13:23

To be honest I was asking for some links so I could think through the whole things. I have not specified what the homework reqirement is, so Im not sure how you know it it too much.
This is the third change of homework policy in 18 months.
The head is saying he has to set it because its a legal requirement. To me thats saying 'well its not my fault - blame the dfe'. I dislike being lied to. One of my children has additional needs. They are setting him the same homework as the year above, they have said they will offer no differenciation. Im upset that they seem to be setting the bar so high that it is unacheivable and my child (ren) will loose all confidence.

irvineoneohone Wed 14-Sep-16 13:14:31

bojorojo, I agree with what you said. I am actually happy for children to have homework, get used to doing some learning at home. I came from a country where they set revision homeworks from start of primary.

As for my ds's homework, it's still early days for this year, so hopefully it's different. Last year, I have spoken to teacher about it, and she promised to look into it, but never happened. And also all his target was set for something he mastered years ago, but when I mentioned it, teacher's reply was, " we haven't cover that yet." So, I given up.
Problem with my ds's school is that there aren't many experienced teachers. 2/3 seems to be NQT or first year after NQT. They are enthusiastic and great teachers, but not experienced enough to cater for children of all the abilities.

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