Homework 'won't improve performance'

Last updated 12:11 25/10/2012
Fairfax Australia
WORTH IT?: Homework may play little importance to primary school children, Australian academics say.

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Homework is little if any use for primary school pupils, say two Australian education academics trying to change the approach to after hours study across the Tasman.

"We're not saying homework should be abolished, just reformed and refined," Professor Mike Horsley from Central Queensland University said.

He is the co-author with Professor Richard Walker of Sydney University of a just-launched book called Reforming Homework: Practices, Learning and Policies.

Horsley said homework had been found to improve academic achievement in the senior years of high school. In Australia that is years 10 to 12 where students are generally aged at least 15.

At that level homework benefited about 45 per cent of students, Horsley said.

"But research shows it won't improve the achievement of children in the early years of primary school, and that it has negligible benefits in the higher grades of primary school."

It was also of "very limited" benefit in the first few years of high school.

Unsurprisingly, the authors said that for homework to have value it must be good quality - well prepared, interesting and challenging.

Walker said parents could benefit their children by providing guidance and help, but were no use if they interfered or were over-controlling.

The homework issue also arose this month in France where President Francois Hollande proposed banning it as part of a series of policies designed to reform the French educational system.

In his case the problem with homework was inequality. It favoured the wealthy because they were more likely to have a good working environment at home, including parents with the time and energy to help.

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