Homework – keys to success

The Homework Conundrum

Homework is always a subject that generates comment and discussion.  Teachers are either told that they are not setting enough homework or too much. Then there are debates about whether homework serves any purpose at all and of course let’s not forget the perennial brainteaser “what is a meaningful homework”. For what it’s worth my opinion is that homework is an essential feature of the school curriculum.

For many children homework poses no problems and is often even enjoyed! These children probably benefit from having supportive (nagging!) parents or carers a quiet place to work and a fair amount of motivation. Even then some of them struggle with the time management and planning aspects that are often required. But what about the kids who have none of this support? They are the ones who often have the most entertaining excuses for not handing their homework in on time but these ‘tall tales’ sometimes mask a number of genuine problems they have faced trying to do the task they have been set.

In school they don’t always succeed but when they do it is often because:

  • there are very clear expectations and structures to work with;
  • they have been able to discuss work;
  • they have worked collaboratively.

One aim of homework is, of course, to get kids to develop a bit more independence and self-discipline in their studies but I’m becoming more and more convinced that sadly that’s exactly where most of the ‘problems’ with homework start. A majority of our pupils have internet access at home. So here are a few ideas my faculty are trying out…


Which side are you on boys? (With apologies to Billy Bragg)

Who is society? There is no such thing!

Politicians are frequently misquoted. People often say it was Margaret Thatcher who said that ‘there is no such thing as society’. In fact in her 1987 speech for Woman’s Own she actualy said “…who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business…”

Fast forward to a speech David Cameron gave in 2010 when he described the ‘Big Society’. Cameron said “We need to create communities with oomph – neighbourhoods who are in charge of their own destiny, who feel if they club together and get involved they can shape the world around them.”

With a little cross pollination you could end up with, “no government can do anything except through people….” who “club together and get involved”.

Self Help – A call to arms!

So today we learn that ahead of planned industrial action this Thursday headteachers and communities are being called upon to look after themselves, minimise disruption and keep their schools open. This call to arms may see those neighbours who are able and who hold the necessary qualifications help their community by making sure hard working parents are able to get to work as normal without worrying about their child’s school being closed. Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron would surely approve of such self help.

But here is the kicker. This has nothing to do with bringing communities together. Nothing to do with making a more robust, cohesive society. It’s not even really about making sure pupils get a good education.