herald

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Hurray, no more homework... but longer school day

NO homework? Not a bad idea says our parents' council.

It's the stuff children's dreams are made off. Sunshine outside and schools banned from giving homework.

One school in Britain is adopting such a plan so that families can spend more quality times together.

And the National Parents' Council agrees.

"It actually might not be the worst idea in the world," spokeswoman Jackie O'Callaghan told the Herald.

"For working parents it would help solve a problem and allow them to spend quality time with their children."

The 1,100 pupils at the Jane Austen College in Norwich England, are expected to do all their work during normal timetabled hours – with nothing to take home in the evenings or weekends.

The school day is being extended to 5pm to create more teaching time as part of a plan aimed at benefiting working families and providing students with extra support.

Principal Claire Heald said the scheme had been adopted successfully at some other independent schools and proved viable on the continent.

"We feel it is going to work with students and are confident that parents and families are going to be on board," she said.

The National Parents Council – Second Level here gave the idea a guarded welcome.

"If it was an option, as opposed to a blanket ban on homework, it would be worth looking at," Ms O'Callaghan said.

However an Irish National Teachers Organisation spokesman stressed the importance of homework – and ruled out any extension to the primary school day or year in Ireland.

"Homework is the most regular and one of the most important links between home and school," a spokesman said.

"It lets a parent get involved in their child's school work and see on a regular basis how they are doing in school.

"It recognises that learning extends beyond the four walls of the classroom. It should encourage independent learning."

Schools' policy on homework at primary level had changed over the years, recognising that most parents work outside the home, he said.

WEEKENDS

"The amount has been reduced, the type of homework has changed and it is generally not given at weekends.

"Most teachers give homework because it makes a valuable contribution to children's learning," he said. "A very small minority might give it because they think it is expected.

"The teaching year at primary level in Ireland is 20pc higher than the EU average with Irish teachers teaching nearly 200 hours more per year than their EU counterparts."

"There is no case for extending the primary school year or day in Ireland," he added.

Last year, French president Francois Hollande called for the end of homework in primary schools because of concerns middle-class parents were using it to give their children a head start.

mlavery@herald.ie

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