By Amy Packham
More than one in ten primary school children are spending more than five hours on homework each week, according to a study. Research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling revealed that a quarter of parents believe that too much homework is set for their children.
The survey of 1,000 parents found that 13 per cent of primary school pupils spend five hours or more on homework a week, compared to 39 per cent of those at secondary school and more than half (55 per cent) of sixth form or college students.
On average, children spent three and a half hours each week on homework — 2.2 hours for primary, 4.3 hours for secondary and 5.3 hours for sixth form.
A report for the Department for Education in 2014 found that Year 9 students who spent two to three hours on homework on an average week night were almost 10 times more likely to achieve five good GCSEs than students who did no homework at all. But is this realistic?
Previously, the Department for Education advised that Key Stage 1 children should do an hour of homework each week, rising to half an hour per night in Key Stage 2. This advice was scrapped in 2012, giving schools more freedom.
So what should parents do if they feel their child is getting too much homework? Michelle Doyle-Wildman, acting CEO of Parentkind, a charity championing parents and teachers in education, says homework is often the subject of lively debate. In their most recent annual survey, two in five parents felt their (primarily older) child was experiencing stress due to homework.
“The bottom line is children do best when teachers and parents work in partnership,” she says. “So if you remain concerned about the amount or type of homework that is set do talk this through with your child’s form teacher or head of year in the first instance.
“You should also seek to share your views in any consultations on the school’s homework policy directly or through your parent council and governing body.”
Dr Nick Smith, principal of Oxford Home Schooling, agreed adding that if parents feel their child is getting too much homework, it is important that they feel comfortable discussing this with their children’s teachers and raise their concerns about the amount of homework.
Doyle-Wildman did reinforce that parents should be positive about education at home, by setting out time in the evening or weekends to do worksheets, read, cook, play and talk together.
“For older children you can support by taking an interest in what homework has been set, making sure your child has a quiet and orderly place to study and spending time together to talk about current affairs or play board games,” she adds.
Parentkind has put some guidance together for mums and dads on giving feedback to schools on its Parent Hub.