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Schools to review homework policies

Victorian schools are talking after a parliamentary inquiry found homework has almost no benefit for primary school students.

REBECCA KERR August 25, 2014 4:23pm
Victorian schools are talking after a parliamentary inquiry found homework has almost no benefit for primary school students.
State MP Jan Kronberg led the inquiry and said homework reduced the amount of time available to pursue other activities and interests which may have greater long-term benefits.
The report, titled Approaches to Homework in Victorian Schools, contained independent research and 32 submissions and information from 16 public hearings which concluded young children completed enough formal learning in the classroom and only benefited from homework as a way to prepare for secondary education.
‘‘By year five or six, students can accommodate homework which is stimulating and extends on their knowledge in preparation for secondary education,’’ Mrs Kronberg said.
‘‘Homework serves a greater purpose in secondary school than primary as it encourages focus and accountability, it develops their organisational skills and self-discipline.’’
Echuca principals said the report sparked interesting conversation in the community and schools will review their homework policies in line with the findings.
Echuca Primary School principal Gayle Bedford said the school’s homework policy reflected department guidelines and would be reviewed soon.
‘‘We plan to review our approach. We will go down the proper channels; asking for parent feedback, taking it to school council, talking to teachers,’’ she said.
She said the school did not police homework; it was used as an aid to class work and often parents asked for it.
Mrs Kronberg said parents used homework as a way to measure student progress or a necessity as they had it, but time and family dynamics have changed.
St Mary’s Primary School principal Brendan Atley said homework practices should be reviewed regularly to ensure the process is worthwhile for students.
Mr Atley said people had differing opinions about effective homework practices and the school would speak with staff and parents to ensure transparency when reviewing its policy.
He said home lifestyles needed to be considered when establishing homework policies in line with department guidelines.
‘‘Lifestyles are changing. I think we need to also review the expectations of children outside of school hours,’’ he said.
Recommendations were made to establish guidelines for schools to develop homework policies, provide professional development for new teachers to explain current research and best homework practices and for homework policies to stipulate assessment and feedback mechanisms.
Victorian schools will wait to see if any recommendations will be adopted by the Department of Education.
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