British Schoolchildren's Homework Burden Is One Of Biggest In Europe

12/12/2014 12:59 | Updated 20 May 2015


Middle class schoolchildren in Britain get more homework than almost any other kids in Europe, it's been revealed.

Our teenagers – and us nagging cajoling encouraging parents – spend more time than most knuckling down to out-of-class assignments, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international think tank.

It has produced a comparison of homework which revealed that wealthier pupils were particularly laden compared with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The weekly average for the UK was about five hours - but, the OECD said, this was because the figures included young people who appeared to do almost no homework at all.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's director of education, said this is likely to widen the gap in how well off pupils perform in exams as there is a link between longer homework hours and higher achievement.

He said the gap between the homework hours of rich and poor could be about a lack of space to study. It could also reflect the amount of help that parents could give.

He said schools could help to bridge the gap by providing a space in school where pupils could do their homework.

The UK's teenagers are studying longer at home than in countries such as Japan, Norway, Austria, Sweden, South Korea, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland.

But they fall way behind Shanghai in China – which has the highest level of homework for its population – and Russia and Singapore. Britain also lags behind Italy, Ireland and Poland for levels of homework.

Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said homework can have a 'powerful impact on attainment' and that most secondary schools offer facilities where pupils can study after school or homework clubs.

But he added: "It is nevertheless important that children also have spare time for themselves. There is a risk that exam pressure can lead to excessive time spent on homework thus undermining opportunities for young people to develop character, skills and qualities to be successful in later life."

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