School scraps home­work

The Oban Times - - NEWS - MONICA GIBSON mgib­son@oban­

A DE­CI­SION to scrap home­work at a Lochaber pri­mary school will help chil­dren ‘get more out of class­room time – as that is what school is for’.

Fol­low­ing a trial pe­riod and con­sul­ta­tion with parents, staff and pupils, In­ver­lochy Pri­mary in Fort Wil­liam has de­cided to go home­work-free.

Chil­dren will no longer be given as­sign­ments and a dead­line but are en­cour­aged to spend time out of the class­room read­ing books, comics and ex­er­cis­ing in a bid to learn in a more ‘chil­dled’ way.

The idea was tested be­fore the sum­mer hol­i­days. In Au­gust, nor­mal pro­ce­dures re­sumed be­fore a con­sul­ta­tion was held prior to and dur­ing the Oc­to­ber break, ac­cord­ing to Barry Hutchi­son, a chil­dren’s au­thor who has a daugh­ter in pri­mary three at In­ver­lochy.

Parents are un­der­stood to have voted 62 per cent in favour of the move. Pupils voted 79 per cent in favour, though teach­ers were split 50/50.

Mr Hutchi­son, pic­tured above, said he wel­comed the de­ci­sion be­cause forced home­work stresses parents and chil­dren. He added: ‘Even in pri­mary one, Mia was get­ting so much home­work that it would some­times take up to an hour and a half Mon­day to Thurs­day and there was no time for un­struc­tured fam­ily or fun time.’

Mr Hutchi­son, who also has a son in S3 at Lochaber High School, said this kind of ap­proach would help cre­ate more well-rounded peo­ple.

He said so­ci­ety is ‘test mad’, but there is re­search that shows small amounts of home­work are not of any ben­e­fit when it comes to pupils’ re­sults and that large amounts of home­work ac­tu­ally lead to worse per­for­mance.

He added: ‘There was an ar­gu­ment I heard that the only peo­ple who would suf­fer from no home­work would be peo­ple from poorer, more de­prived back­grounds, but that is not the case.

‘If there is no sup­port, then these kids are likely not do­ing their home­work any­way but they are get­ting into trou­ble for that on Fri­day.

‘So, the only thing this would re­move is the child get­ting into trou­ble on Fri­day and in­stead be­ing told that read­ing Match mag­a­zine or go­ing out on your bike is pos­i­tive, which then might re­move that sense of loathing go­ing to school or re­sent­ing school­work at an early age.’

With re­gard to how chil­dren might cope with even­tu­ally hav­ing to hit dead­lines in the ap­proach to sec­ondary school and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion, Mr Hutchi­son said that with his son, he ex­pe­ri­enced a lesser amount of home­work in first and sec­ond year which grad­u­ally builds up.

Mr Hutchi­son added: ‘My son was ac­tu­ally get­ting less home­work than my daugh­ter who was in pri­mary one at the time, to the ex­tent we thought he might be hid­ing it.

‘It wasn’t the case and, with ex­ams loom­ing, we will sup­port his stud­ies.

‘Of course, tar­geted home­work can be use­ful if a child is strug­gling with a par­tic­u­lar area but there are so many dif­fer­ent ways of learn­ing and I think this is a great de­ci­sion by the school.’

The Oban Times asked the High­land Coun­cil if it was in­volved in the de­ci­sion, how suc­cess could be mea­sured and if it is likely other schools might fol­low suit.

A spokesper­son said: ‘ High­land Coun­cil has a de­volved school man­age­ment sys­tem in our schools. The au­thor­ity does not have a high­land-wide ‘ no home­work’ pol­icy in place – this is some­thing that In­ver­lochy Pri­mary School is tri­alling in their school.’

In­ver­lochy chil­dren cel­e­brate. Pho­to­graph: Iain Fer­gu­son, The Wright Im­age

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