A Northern Sydney primary school has stopped setting daily homework. The decision comes after Allambie Heights Public School conducted a survey that found 70 per cent of students, parents and teachers doubted the value of homework.
The homework debate has been held decades, with Australian state education systems favouring some form of homework, but varying amounts and frequency.
The NSW Department of Education and Training says homework is important:
“Homework bridges the gap between learning at school and learning at home. It reinforces work done in class. It helps develop skills such as research and time management. Homework helps to establish the habits of study, concentration and self discipline.”
Australian students spend, on average, two hours a day on set tasks. Melbourne psychologist, Dr. Judith Paphazy told the Sydney Morning Herald setting homework for students in years five and six was a health risk.
“These children are very stressed because the level of homework they’re expected to do is causing serious damage to their mental and physical health,” she said.
Local Albion Park tutor Jarrad Tatton said Illawarra schools set unrealistic workloads.
“To sit down and tutor a Year 6 student and be unable to comprehend, speaks volumes of the sort of content they’re being asked to do,” he said.
“With over four pages of work, it is no wonder kids are stressing themselves out.”
The mathematics and English tutor said homework was necessary but it needed to be reduced.
“Perhaps teaching children responsibility by offering class rewards such as stickers if their parents sign off on helping with house chores,” he said.
“Besides reading a book, communicating with their family and being a kid nothing more should be asked, as it’s simply not needed to nurture their development
“Kids who despise school grow up to hate it and end up being more harmed than helped.”
Parent, Vanessa Parreria said her two primary school boys regularly felt overloaded with homework, and struggled to balance school and extracurricular activities.
“They become stressed and upset which pressures me into doing their homework for them just to meet their daily deadlines,” she said.
“Is this really helping them learn or is it supporting the development of anxiety?”
Photo by Marian Wilde, Great! Schools