PARENTS

The Great Homework Debate

Is homework worth the hassle? Parents have their say.

14/03/2017 14:46 GMT | Updated 14/03/2017 16:02 GMT

Gary Lineker and Kirstie Allsopp are just two of the high profile parents who’ve lamented the amount of homework set for children - and questioned its usefulness.

Dad-of-four Linekar has said: “Homework should be banned. All it does is drive a massive wedge between parents and children because you end up having to do it for them, and it’s stressful.”

While Allsopp has long argued that homework is pointless, taking to Twitter to back Linekar: “Homework is an absurd hangover from another time. Much, much better to focus on reading, reading, reading and more reading.” 

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In 2012 the Government set aside guidelines for homework (previously an hour a week for five to seven-year-olds, rising to 2.5 hours a night for pupils aged between 14 and 16), leaving schools to make their own decisions. Yet very few schools have decided against homework and those that have changed their homework policy have found themselves mired in controversy and parent complaints. 

We took the pulse of public feeling, asking UK mums and dads to share their thoughts on the homework debate.

Homework = stress

“Apart from reading, I don’t think primary school kids should have homework at all, and there’s growing evidence it’s of no benefit.” Becky

 “Homework is an utter waste of time. After school and weekends are for fun, family time, sport and LIVING!” Clare

“I don’t mind useful homework but it’s those ridiculous time-consuming ‘make a papier mâché hot air balloon’ type projects that drove me mad - just so silly and pointless. And I fail to see what’s especially educational about it other than learning to mix papier papier mâché. Thankfully they are few and far between now my son’s in secondary school.” Liz

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“I can’t bear homework. I want to enjoy time with my children - school takes up enough of our time as it is. I really resent it.” Rachael

“I just can’t see how, when they’ve been at school all day, poring over spellings or timetables in the evening when they’re knackered is good for them? Far better to be reading a book!” Shona

“I don’t think they should have homework at all until they are 13 at the earliest.” Lynley

“It’s terrifying how much homework has changed over just a few short years. I have three kids in the school system: 13, 11 and 5 and my 5-year-old gets more homework than either of the other two - plus it takes him longer as he’s tired after school and only just learning the basics. To my mind, reading is enough until juniors. If a parent wants to see what their child is learning then they could ask their child’s teacher to send some work home.” Jo

“My son’s school sets homework - then doesn’t follow up on it. We’ve had to ask the school to be consistent if we are going to spend every weekend nagging and shouting to get homework done.” Caroline

“My son is in Year One and gets ‘optional’ homework each week, except it’s not really optional because they get points in class for doing their homework. The points are added up at the end of the week and the child at the top of the leaderboards gets a prize. Most of the time we do the homework as he enjoys it. If we have a busy weekend or he’s tired then we don’t do it, but I feel guilty that he might feel bad not scoring high on points. It really shouldn’t be like this for five and six-year-olds. Kids need to switch off after school and at weekends. I didn’t have any homework until I was eight. I feel sorry for kids these days with homework at a young age. It’s unnecessary.” Sophie

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Homework works

“Our children have homework set from a really young age and I have no complaints. It gives us a chance to see how they’re coping too, and get involved.” Scheenagh

“The type of homework tells you a lot about the school and schools which don’t set it are probably useless. That said, it should not be set over the holidays because they are supposed to have that time off.” Faith

“I totally see the point of homework that’s set with the intention of practising what they have learnt in school or further developing their knowledge. I have always had a hands-off approach to homework. I don’t believe in helicoptering and ‘helping’, ie, doing it for them, but I do expect them to do it. My children, who are now all at secondary school, aren’t allowed on screens until they’ve had a snack, relaxed for a bit and then done their homework for the day. It doesn’t invade our evenings because they are usually finished by supper time.” Jane

“My children’s school has a very sensible homework policy - only for Year Three upwards, set on Monday and given in on Friday so it doesn’t take over weekends.” Ron

“I like being able to see what my children are up to at school. I think homework is an essential bridge between school and home. I don’t want to wait until an end of term parents’ evening to see my children’s school work. Also, if they are struggling, I can mention it to the teacher at pick-up.” Jenny

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How to make homework less stress for everyone

“We do homework the day we set it; get it out of the way and then our time is our own.  It works for all my three. We’ve never given the option to put it off.” Joe

“If you have a set time for homework, it becomes just part of the evening routine with no room for battles.” Liat

“Younger children might need some help, but as children progress through primary school and into secondary they really should be doing homework independently as much as possible. Remember, it’s their homework not yours!” Hugh

“Make it short and sweet. And always check your printer’s working and got paper! That really can ruin an evening!” Jake

What do you think about homework? Let us know in the comments section below.