Should homework be abolished?

Should homework be abolished?

Some primary schools in NSW are allowing students to opt out of homework altogether, so why not abolish it?

The NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) allows schools to set their own homework policies, which has led to one school giving parents the option to spare their children from it entirely.

Cambridge Park Public School sent a letter to parents stating that they - and not the school – were “best placed” to decide whether or not their children should do homework.

‘Homework provides parents with some idea of what skills and knowledge children are learning in the classroom. However the school recognises that parents are best placed to make decisions about whether or not their children have the capacity or time to complete homework,’ stated the letter.

Other schools are considering following suit, with Gymea Bay currently surveying parents’ attitudes towards homework.

In January, the TODAY co-cost, Karl Stefanovic, suggested that children should be using their time outside school to play and bond with their family rather than do homework.

Parents, Stefanovic argued, should also be spared from “doing homework they clearly can’t do”.

The comments sparked a debate as to whether allowing students to opt out of homework could provide positive follow-on effects, such as lessening the burden on teachers and freeing up much-needed time.

In a research document attached to its homework policy, the DEC cites evidence that suggests homework in primary school does not necessarily improve results.

"Most researchers conclude that for primary students, there is no evidence that homework lifts academic performance," states the document.

Education academic, Professor Mike Horsley, who co-wrote the book Reforming Homework, told the Sydney Morning Herald there was a "fair degree of difference" in how parents and teachers valued homework.
"For some parents, homework presents specific challenges in modern lifestyles, so with the changes in the workplace and living arrangements, more traditional types of homework presents challenges and in some cases these challenges have turned into a fair bit of family conflict," Horsley said.

"We say in our book that we should not ban homework because it is important for kids to get themselves organised and manage their own learning, but if it is hours and hours of drill and practice, then we would not support that.” 

HAVE YOUR SAY: Is homework no longer necessary?