Sunday Times: UK’s biggest school scraps homework. Jack Grimston

From The Sunday TimesSeptember 28, 2008
A new school that will be the biggest in the country is to abandon homework because the head teacher believes it does not justify the detentions and family rows it causes.

Nottingham East academy, which will have 3,570 pupils, claims it will be the first school to scrap homework. It will instead have an extra lesson and after-school activities such as sport, model aircraft-building and sari-making.

Government guidelines suggest primary schools should set pupils between one and 2 1/2 hours per week, while those at secondaries receive up to 2 1/2 hours a day. Many of the most academically successful schools in the private and state sectors prescribe three or four hours of homework a night for older children.

Barry Day, who will be principal of the new academy, believes much of this time is wasted. “If you ask most heads what most detentions are for, they will tell you for non-completion of homework,” he said.

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PEN comment: enforced homework plays little part in learning – in fact its a big turn off. Where a learner’s own interest and motivation drives the learning that is a different matter. The most damaging  impact of homework is the wholesale appropriation of young people’s time. Not only do schools control their day they then go on to appropriate evenings, weekends and holidays as well. This is not democratically acceptable and at the very least should be a matter of invitation. Young people need time for their own interests and pursuits. They also need time to build relationships and ties with families, friends and communities. Part of the current moral panic about social cohesion can be traced to the way we currently live. We have a controlling and coercive society that prevents younsters from taking responsibility for their own lives.

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