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Among the most vexing issues in the school-home interface is homework.

Current research indicates that the effect of homework on overall learning of an individual can be pretty minimal. The suggestion is that other activities such as learning an instrument, sport or hobbies might be just as useful.

The absence of homework, for most of us in Independent schools, is counter-intuitive. Research also tells us is that where schools have an expectation of homework being completed, this coincides with higher overall attainment.

What we do know is that there is a vast range of family circumstances in which the same homework is undertaken, so it will be impossible for homework requirements to suit all extremes of that range. The range of parental assistance/intervention in homework varies also from none to total, so it certainly cannot be used for evaluative purposes. Unfortunately, homework is one of the few windows - and a very poor one at that - that a parent has into the course of work being followed by a pupil at school.

All of this means that homework will rarely satisfy pupils, parents or teachers. The best that a family can do is:
  • Give homework its place and time in the family routine - a place for it to be done, and a time to do it in (without the TV on). 
  • Value it without being enslaved by it - and don't use it as a measure of the classroom programme 
  • Communicate with the teacher when other family events prevent its completion 
  • Make sure that the spelling, tables and reading are given priority - these are the most likely to have a residual effect on learning.