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Is no homework damaging?

(20 Posts)
AmIAWeed Tue 17-Oct-17 17:49:23

My son is in year 9 and I am having a constant battle with the school over homework, or more to the point lack of.
I have called, written in his planner and emailed asking for the homework timetable. I have been told he will get 2 hours of homework every night, the school have told me he isn't writing it in his planner. Yet, there are no detentions for not doing it, no detentions for doing it poorly.
The school have put him on report for behaviour and for the last 2 days, he's had 1 piece of homework that took him less than 15 minutes, so I am confident he really is not getting set homework despite the claims of his head of house and form tutor.
I have multiple concerns. My son is an active learner, so whilst bright struggles in the traditional academic sense and I am really concerned if he doesn't learn to work independently and progress in his comprehension he will fail his GCSEs. He is top set in all subjects, confirmed by him and the school.
The school is an academy and all schools (a total of 5 secondary schools) in our local area are all run by the same academy, short of driving him almost an hour away to school there are no other schools to choose from so I am enlisting the help of a tutor as private school is out of our affordability.
My question is, How far can I challenge the school on this, is not setting homework a failing? Could they simply announce its the teachers decision if they set homework or not?
I would really appreciate some outside perspective, im, not a teacher, I have no experience other than my own experience at school so who knows, maybe you can go to school and do no additional work and pass exams??

RedSkyAtNight Tue 17-Oct-17 18:01:55

What are the school results like? If there are DC getting strings of A*/A at GCSE (unless you're somewhere where there is lots of tutoring going on)then it suggests the school's approach is ok.

For what it's worth, I also have a DS in Y9 and a lot of his homework seems to consist of "complete what we were doing in class" and "go over the points we covered in this lesson ". Which translates to him not doing much at home!

Year11Woes Tue 17-Oct-17 19:04:49

I started a thread earlier today, seems like we are sharing some of the same concerns.
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/3062387-Lack-of-work-Year-11

NannyOggsKnickers Tue 17-Oct-17 19:13:11

So, the debate on this is hardly clear cut. Too much homework has been shown to be damaging to the emotional and mental well being of students. While the correct kinds of tasks (link to learning, research tasks etc) have been shown to have a positive correlation with higher achievement in older students.

However, this could just mean that kids who do well at school also spend more time on their homework.

I can tell you that from my experiences- homework for the sake of it has absolutely no benefit. Giving detentions for homework results in half arsed, last minute scribbles of no benefit to anyone.

But positive encouragement to read around the subject and rewarding those who do it and praising curiousity in the subject really benefits students.

Homework tasks are mostly for parents.

Liadain Tue 17-Oct-17 19:14:16

Learning styles is a bit of a neuromyth and have been debunked, so the active learner theory probably isn't the way to go. You need to look at things like his working memory, concentration etc.

The homework timetable - unclear as to what you mean there, homework won't be set by each teacher every day if work they have been doing doesn't require it.

I'd say it's unusual to not give homework,but if the students as a whole are achieving well it may not matter. If you know other parents in the school (of his friends maybe) check in with them and see what they are getting. It's easy enough for a kid to wiggle out of doing it - especially with no sanctions.

RedSky - that sounds like revision... surely a good thing for homework to be?

RedSkyAtNight Tue 17-Oct-17 19:37:06

Yes- very happy for DS to have revision type homework (less so that he doesn't do it). I was trying to point out to OP that her DS may have "less visible" work he's meant to do at home.

AmIAWeed Tue 17-Oct-17 19:45:35

To answer Liadain the homework timetable I have been told is a timetable for teachers to set homework and ensure students don't get too much in one go and their week is paced. So in theory the teachers lessons should be planned around the days they are supposed to set homework.

The homework I have seen to date, only one piece in my mind held any value, they wrote a story in English, it was assessed by the teacher and they had to write how they would improve the next time. For me that demonstrates their understanding of the feedback given. Everything else has been a printed a4 piece of paper which is rarely more than a tick box exercise, which is why it is taking 15 minutes or less.

In terms of the schools attainment, they were put into special measures 2 years ago and taken over by the academy. They place a huge amount of emphasis on their improved results yet only just 67% of students achieved a pass in maths or English. They are very clever with their wording! so sadly, they aren't evening high achieving in their method.

I do agree with the idea of homework being meaningful, which is part of the reason why I time the time it takes to complete homework and have been looking carefully at it to ensure he doesn't just copy and paste from the internet, which he has done in the passed!!

I am interested in the idea that learning types is a neuromyth, my own experience of getting him excited in a topic and interested is that he can read a book and retain no information, take him to a place, show him and talk to him and he gets it far better

Liadain Tue 17-Oct-17 19:46:41

Ah ok I getcha. Yes, that would be a good possibility - a move towards independent work skills and study! I like it.

NannyOggsKnickers Tue 17-Oct-17 20:30:57

AmI it is true that all students would benefit from being taken to places to contextualise their learning. Really, it is the students who have those opportunities at home who do better- because they have engaged parents.

In reality, homework IS a tick box activity for most teachers. We have to set it and the kids have to do it. Proportional to the amount of faff it causes everyone it is not time effective. Get your son to research around his subjects- watch tv shows about them, go to places, read. Just be curious.

An enquiringly mind is the best thing to foster.

clary Tue 17-Oct-17 21:54:00

I agree, homework is mostly set to please parents, in KS3 anyway.

In KS4 I set HW that will revise a skill covered in class or extend reading on a topic we are covering, as well as vocab (teach MFL).

In KS3 it's vocab or short written pieces. Trouble is for the latter they tend to use Google translate so what's the point?

I agree with PPS, get him to read round the subject and do extra research on s topic - much more relevant.

AmIAWeed Wed 18-Oct-17 08:00:04

so with that in mind, and it sounds like I am talking to teachers - would you be annoyed if a parent asked what topics you'll be looking at each term/year?
He struggles to tell me what he's been doing in classes so making sure I plan reading/weekends away or days out that are relevant are difficult. His history teacher commented last year how great his knowledge of castles was in their project, but it was sheer fluke he'd been to a few
I really don't believe he is top set standard unless the standard of education levels is so low that being in top set actually isn't difficult.
I guess at this stage in his education I'd be expecting him to play more of an active role in his learning and I wouldn't be calling the teachers regularly to find out what is going on.
I KNOW that teenagers can be sullen with parents, but in his case I really believe its a case of he doesn't know/understand and that worries me.

NannyOggsKnickers Wed 18-Oct-17 17:58:05

School should be providing you with an overview of what is going to be studied (by general topic) each term. It’s not hard to do.

I would ask and see if they’ve got one that has just been shoved in a corner of the website.

physicskate Wed 18-Oct-17 19:12:19

Can’t you just look at his exercise books/folders/ textbooks to find out what he’s been doing.

I’d guess his school/ teachers are struggling and that request would feel like yet another thing that might go to the bottom of a very long (but of little academic benefits to the kids) to do list...

When things get tough (deadlines like reports loom) I stop assigning ks3 homework... it’s about survival sometimes.

AmIAWeed Wed 18-Oct-17 19:24:32

Nanny the default answer when I ask the head of house for information is, it is on the website. I look, can't find it anywhere and so call to ask where. Not only have they never managed to direct me to information they claim is on there, when I ask them to email it or a link, it doesn't arrive. When i've been in in person, they cannot provide, and assure me they will send it home. The last note home claimed I would get a copy of the homework timetable...im still waiting

physickate school don't allow books to come home because they claim all children loose them, which is why they only hand out sheets for the odd bit of homework they do. The more I type, the more it feels like they are treating them like toddlers.

The school does not post homework online like many, they use cash in the canteen and are in no way keeping up with the technological advances of the majority of schools.

BubblesBuddy Wed 18-Oct-17 23:22:31

Sounds like a crap school to me. Have you found the homework policy? That should give you information. Ask the head of year if it is being implemented.

My DDs went to boarding school. I never had anything to do with their homework and I didn't see it. They stood or fell by their own efforts. It wasn't for me. It did teach them to work to deadlines, manage their time and engage with what they were asked to do. Once prep time was finished they got on with other things. Managing time is a good thing when at university and for life in general. Completing work and being able to research is also a good life skill. I think these are for the benefit of the student, not the parent.

clary Thu 19-Oct-17 23:54:14

Topics studied each term is on our school website OP.

WRT books coming home, I get fed up of the number of students who forget their book and then can't refer to the last lesson's work, and have endless pieces of paper in their books.

Seven weeks into term and I have already had about ten students who have permanently lost their books (and any work in it) having taken it home for one piece of HW. I despair.

Bekabeech Fri 20-Oct-17 06:56:47

At my DC’s school all exercise books tend to come home unless they are in for marking. So everyone expects that and I think fewer get lost - although we have been told we “must have” a book but the teacher had mislaid it (as we find out when it turns up). The homework timetable comes home every year regularity at the start of the autumn term. There is also a new online system.
But DD who is supposed to do 2 hours a night did her weeks homework in 3 hours on Sunday, with only a little extra time spent during this week.

MaisyPops Fri 20-Oct-17 07:06:18

My principle is that I set homework if there is a point.

It means that there are odd weeks where I don't set anything (students quite like the breather) but what I do set has a purpose. Consequently I usually have a 95%-100% hand in each week (odd forgetters rather than people who don't bother)

Setting homework like 'design a poster' or a worksheet that can he done in 10 mins is a waste of time for students. Then staff wonder why students don't do it and then because they set a pointless task, they don't bother setting detentions. It's a joke.

I would call school and ask what topics they'll be studying and what their extension work is.

AmIAWeed Fri 20-Oct-17 07:48:31

I had another chat with my son last night, he had some art homework set for over the holidays to take photos of street art, he also has one piece of English homework to do over the holidays, but realistically it'll take him about 5 minutes to do that.
We had a really good chat about the street art, where to find, also the different types. I may have gone off on a tangent as we've decided to include sculptures as well as graffiti so I am hoping if this is the only piece he's said I can get him to spend some time on presentation as well as thinking of alternatives, we live in a pretty rural place so it'll mean a day out which again may help towards the advice on this forum about making it engaging and hopefully it'll mean he'll talk to me more about what they are doing in school if I can make this fun.

Sadly neither topics studied that term, homework policies etc are held on the schools website, instead I can read about the £500,000 they've spent improving the schools signage adding locks to windows and making the classrooms look pretty hmm

lljkk Sat 21-Oct-17 20:04:52

Has the school always set little homework, or is this a new development, or a new school for your son?

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