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Headmaster’s Blog – The homework debate

June 11, 2015

Recent Times’ coverage of the furore unleashed recently by the Principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College questioning areidlowres41homework is summarised as follows:

The head of Cheltenham Ladies’ College has had to “break the news” to pupils that the “end of homework is not quite as imminent” as they might have hoped. It follows media coverage claiming the institution is banning homework to “save pupils from depression”. Principal Eve Jardine-Young said: “The headline about homework being banned was not entirely accurate.” She said it was being looked at as part of an “overall review of learning”. Claims the independent school was considering scrapping homework were made in The Times after an interview Ms Jardine-Young gave to the newspaper. Although the principal admits the girls’ school is looking into the “daily” prep being handed out to its 850 students, she said it was not abolishing “traditional homework”.

Here at Ballard we are aware that homework (prep) can give rise to strong feelings. In our recent annual parental survey we have again experienced the traditional difference of opinion between those who feel that children don’t have enough homework and those who feel there’s too much! Most ISI inspections report the same dichotomy.

We feel that some homework is vital both as a way to consolidate on studies in the classroom and also as a means of preparing for topics to come. Some subjects, of course, lend themselves well to project work and research (such as the Humanities) which might be spread over a week or more and progress made by individuals in this will vary owing to the work rate of different pupils. Other subjects, such as MFL, English, Science and Maths, need regular and often bursts of homework to ensure concepts are mastered and vocabulary / specialist terms learnt. Regular reading ‘around the subject’, as well as having a reading book ‘on the go’ to stimulate creativity and a love of learning, is also a must to establish good habits and to challenge young minds. We are again reviewing our homework policy and having further discussion shortly with Heads of Department to consider the amount of work set, and its degree of difficulty, at differing age levels. Inevitably this debate will ‘run and run’ but we welcome the arguments and the raising of awareness it brings!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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