Homework linked to better school results


A new study published by Department for Education shows that spending more than two hours a night doing homework is linked to achieving better results in English, maths and science.

The study tracked the progress of 3,000 children over the past 15 years and showed that spending any time doing homework is beneficial, but the effects were greater for students who put in two to three hours a night.

Pam Sammons, a professor of education at Oxford University, said: "That's one of the reasons Indian and Chinese children do better. They tend to put more time in. It's to do with your effort as well as your ability.

"What we're not saying is that everyone should do large amounts, but if we could shift some of those who spend no time or half an hour into [doing] one to two hours – one of the reasons private schools' results are better is that there's more expectation of homework."

The study also found that students who reported that they enjoyed school achieved better results. Sammons said schools could ensure children had a better experience by improving the behavioural climate, making schoolwork interesting and making children feel supported by teachers.

The research shows that working-class parents can help their children succeed despite social disadvantages by having high aspirations for them.

Children who did well from disadvantaged backgrounds were backed by parents who valued learning and encouraged extra-curricular activities. The reseach showed that parents' own resilience in the face of hardship provided a role model for their children's efforts.

The study underlines the importance of a good primary school. Children who attended an academically effective primary school did better at maths and science in later life.

The report shows that:

  • Secondary schools with a strong emphasis on learning and a good behavior climate promoted better academic attainment and more positive social behaviours amongst teenagers.
  • At age 14 students' academic attainment and progress are still strongly influenced by the education level of their parents, especially their mothers.
  • Working class parents can help their children 'succeed against the odds' by having high aspirations and setting high standards for them.
  • For many children, the effects of disadvantage start early and continue throughout their school years.
  • High-quality pre-school has lasting benefits even after 10 years, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The academic effectiveness of the primary school still mattered at age 14.