School scraps homework
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