I’m grateful to the parent who drew my attention to this interesting article about homework in The Guardian: A gold star to any parent who rebels against homework . The topic – does homework represent effective learning or is it a waste of time? – is one that we have been considering in school and indeed we are about to set up a working party to review our homework policies. Results from our Parent Survey in February showed that levels of homework were not a high priority for parents generally but, where there are concerns, parents are equally split between feeling there was too little and too much.

Of course much depends on the stage of education at which a student is working and discussions about levels of homework often fail to consider its quality or effectiveness.

In my view, there needs to be a balance: recent research suggests that homework can enrich learning, but doing too much can have the opposite effect. A recent study, for example, found that when KS3 students were given more than 90-100 minutes of homework per day, their maths and science scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015).

I am also convinced that thoughtfully-structured homework not only strengthens student learning, it also provides ways to develop links between home and school. Homework allows parents to see what their children are learning, encourages them to talk with children about their learning and helps parents and teachers to consider ways to support student learning. However, parent involvement can also be detrimental. Patall, Cooper, and Robinson (2008) found that students did worse when their parents were perceived as intrusive or controlling. You might also be interested in this article from The Times. 

Whatever the pros and cons of homework, I don’t believe the question should be about homework vs. no homework; instead, we should be asking, “How can we transform homework so that it’s engaging, relevant, and supports learning?” We’ll be seeking the views of our girls on this, too, but if parents would like to contribute to the debate, please pass your comments to Ms Boyes, Deputy Head, who’ll be chairing our homework working party.