Session 337: Homework – yay or nay?

Thursday 19th January 2017

Homework is one of those issues that causes division, among teachers, students and parents. Yet, despite many articles on the subject in favour or against setting homework, homework is still an issue that causes additional workload to the teaching profession, with worries of setting too much, or not enough.

Following the online #UKEdChat poll, this session sets out to explore some of the ongoing issues, challenges and celebrations of setting homework.

  1. What is the policy of your school with regards to homework?
  2. How should homework be developed through the different stages of schooling?
  3. If you use any technology platform for setting homework, how has this impacted on learning?
  4. How can we support those pupils who never seem to do their homework?
  5. How much of a workload burden is setting, planning and marking homework?
  6. What is the most positive outcome from setting homework that you’ve ever seen?

Join the #UKEdChat session on Twitter from 8pm on Thursday evening.


Summary

This session is a difficult one to summarise, as the homework landscape and attitudes towards homework varies greatly between each school and individual. The answers to the first question about homework policy reflected this. The vast majority of schools have some form of homework, with subject specific homework at secondary, and more skills based as a minimum, such as spellings and reading practice, occurring at primary. From participants of UKEdChat, the greatest variation appears to occur at primary schools. This is perhaps not surprising given the vastly different ability levels between when pupils enter and leave primary. Yet the variability also stems from the ethos of the school. The differences between the Key Stage age groups was expanded on further with the second question.

Technology was the theme of the third question, and chat participants discussed how they use online tools, apps and other platforms to streamline the homework process. It seemed that many schools/educators use online tools to set homework, but far fewer use digital tools to collect homework, with most UKEdChatters reporting that they still collect in homework in the time honoured way, and some by email. Secondary educators were more likely to use digital homework tools, as there are more classes to coordinate.

One of the biggest homework frustrations seems to be that the same pupils do not complete it week after week. Many schools how homework clubs, time given in the class to clarify homework issues, and many sanctions if it is not completed. This lead to a digression about ‘flipped’ homework, and how this can make pupils more reliably complete homework, as it is essential to their class time activities.

The fifth question asked about the workload burden of homework. This largely seemed to depend on the value you give to homework. For educators who consider homework useful the burden seemed less. Yet it seemed that the majority of educators felt that homework in its present form at their school was burdensome and required too much of the teacher’s attention for the value they felt it gave.

The last question asked participants for situations where homework has had positive outcomes. These are for to varied to cite here, and I suggest that you view the archive for a view picture. But to summarise it seemed that many of the most positive outcomes occurred when the teacher tried something new and went beyond the regular scheduled homework.

Perhaps we all need to do a little more homework to keep it fresh, engaging and valuable to the learners.

Featured image credit: By ND Strupler on Flickr under  (CC BY 2.0)

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat. “Mastery is an unattainable illusion”

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