Homework Gets the Thumbs Down!


Following a call to action by a Spanish national parents’ association, millions of children were urged to go on “strike” and ignore all homework exercises set by teachers this November.

The organisation, a confederation of 12,000 parents’ associations in Spain (CEAPA), criticised what they and many parents believe to be an excessive workload on Spanish children, saying that the practice led to damage to family life and unhappiness.

The strike accompanies the latest PISA education report, which highlights the mismatch between the time Spanish pupils invest in homework and their actual national results. Spanish pupils can be expected to spend 6.5 hours on homework a week (compared to an average of 4.9 hours amongst other OECD countries), but rate in the bottom half of PISA’s reading, maths and science rankings.

Even worse, the World Health Organisation found that 65% of Spanish 15 year olds feel stress from the amount of homework they are set.
In lieu of homework, CEAPA suggested a variety of alternative activities, including writing letters, cooking meals, or having family discussions about social issues.

Pupils and parents at Inverlochy Primary School overwhelmingly voted to ban homework. 4 out of 5 pupils and 3 out of 5 parents supported the move, compared to an even split amongst the teachers.

The 193-pupil primary, located in Fort William, had previously experimented with a homework ban with a six-week trial during the previous academic year.

Following the success of the trial, families of pupils were able to vote either “YES” or “NO” to making the change permanent.

The ban is hoped to give pupils more time to relax and play, though teachers have urged pupils to allocate an equal amount of time towards reading books, magazines and comics.

Parents who were in favour of the decision cited the stress and busy schedules of their children as reasons for their support.

“It takes up a lot of time and quite often he [my son] has after-school clubs… it can be left until 8pm at night,” said Susan Campbell, whose eight-year old attends the school.

The “no-homework” policy at Inverlochy Primary is not the first of its kind – King’s Road Primary in Fife also banned the practice last month, though the decision to do so without first consulting parents drew fire.