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Is Homework Good Or Bad Debate

Guide: Is homework a good idea or not?

The Christmas holidays are over and it's back to school!

That means lessons, assembly, seeing your friends and - for a lot of you - time to do homework again!

While giving homework to pupils in secondary schools is generally seen as a good idea, some don't think that kids in primary schools should have to do it.

For the last 100 years or so, experts have been trying to work out if it is beneficial to give homework to kids in primary schools.

In the UK, the government says it's up to the head teacher to decide whether or not their school will set extra work like this.

Find out more about both sides of the argument with Newsround's guide, and then let us know what you think of doing homework when you're in primary school.

What is homework?

Homework: A timeline

  • 1997: Just over 6 in every 10 primary schools made their pupils do homework
  • 1998: Government publishes advice for schools in England and Wales about setting homework (e.g. pupils aged 5 to 7 should do 10 minutes of homework a night)
  • 1999: Around 9 in 10 primary schools are setting homework
  • 2012: Government gets rid of its guidelines, saying that schools should get to decide for themselves

Homework generally means work that is set by teachers for you to do outside of your normal school hours.

When you're younger, your parents might help you to do it.

But as you get older, you will generally take more responsibility for doing your homework on your own.

Professor Sue Hallam from the Institute of Education - who is one of the most experienced researchers into homework in the UK - says that in 1997, just over 6 in every 10 primary schools made their pupils do homework.

Just two years later, this had risen to around nine in ten primary schools and the majority still set homework now.

Why do people think homework is a good idea?

Many think that giving homework to primary school children is an important part of their learning.

They believe it helps them to practice what that they have learnt in lessons, in order to get better at things like spelling and handwriting.

They say it helps to teach children how to work on their own and be disciplined with themselves - both skills that are useful later in life.

It can also allow parents or guardians to get involved in their children's learning.

To find out more about why people think homework is a good idea, Jenny spoke to Chris from the campaign for Real Education, which is a group of teachers and parents who care about how well schools are doing.

Members of the organisation believe that traditional homework is important.

Chris told Newsround: "If you like learning, homework helps to support your learning. It's really important to go back afterwards and think about what you're learning in class. Practice makes perfect."

"In parts of the world, children are doing much better in school than children in the UK. In most cases, they are doing much more homework.

"That doesn't mean you should be doing home work all the time.

"But a little bit of homework to support what you're doing in the classroom, involving your parents and guardians, is really good because it allows you to do as well as everybody else in the world."

Chris added that it is important to have a balance between homework and other activities.

"Homework shouldn't be overdone. Let's do some homework and some play."

Why do people think homework is a bad idea?

Some people think that giving homework to children at primary school is not necessary.

They think it puts too much pressure on them and that the time spent doing homework could be used to do other activities.

Jenny also spoke to Nansi Ellis - assistant general secretary of one of the biggest teacher's unions in England, made up of teachers and heads - who doesn't believe that giving homework to primary school children is needed.

She told Newsround: "There is other good stuff you can do at home, like reading, playing sport or a musical instrument, or helping with the cooking, shopping or with your siblings. You might be a Guide or a Scout.

"Those things are really helpful for you to learn to work in a team, to learn to be creative, to ask questions and to help other people. These are really important skills.

"The trouble with homework is that it gets in the way of all of those good things that you could be doing and it doesn't necessarily help you with your school work."

Sometimes parents or guardians try to help with homework and, if they have been taught differently, it can end up being confusing for the child doing the homework. They can also end up doing too much of the work themselves!

Nansi added: "Some children live in really busy houses with lots of people coming and going, and they don't have a quiet space to do homework, so they can't use it to help them to get better at studying on their own, which doesn't seem fair.

"Teachers set homework for you to get better at your learning - that seems like a really good reason. But actually, the evidence isn't clear that even that's true."

Another expert Rosamund McNeil, from a teachers' organisation called the NUT, said: "Pupils in Finland are assigned very little homework yet they remain one of the most educationally successful countries in the world."

Why is this issue being talked about?

People have been trying to find out if homework is a good thing or a bad thing for many years.

Recently, a report was done by an organisation called the Teaching Schools Council, which works with the government and schools in England.

It says: "Homework [in primary schools] should have a clear purpose."

The report explains that if there isn't a clear reason for the homework and the pupils won't necessarily gain something from doing it, then it should not be set.

Dame Reena Keeble, an ex-primary school head teacher who led the report, told Newsround: "What we are saying in our report is that if schools are setting homework for you, they need to explain to you - and your mums and dads - why they're setting it, and your teachers need to let you know how you've done in your homework.

"We found homework can really help with your learning, as long as your school makes sure that what you're doing for your homework is making a difference."

So is homework a good idea or a bad idea?

Many people have different opinions. However, the truth is it's hard to know.

Professor Hallam explains that part of the problem is that it is difficult to accurately work out how useful homework is.

Generally, people agree that homework is good idea for children in secondary school.

But for primary school, it isn't clear if there's a right or wrong answer to this question.

And you've been having your say too.

Nearly 900 of you took part in an online vote about the amount of homework you get: whether it is not enough, just right or too much.

It's just a quick snapshot of what some of you think. Here's the results:

  • No it is terrible

    There is no, nil, zero, zilch evidence that homework is beneficial! Not one tiny teeny little grain! And there is soooo much overwhelming evidence that homework is bad! Can't you realise that, people who keep saying no?
    It causes unnecessary stress levels, steals sleep, causes arguments, wastes time, hinders learning (yes, lack of sleep and being really miserable WILL hinder learning), causes obesity..... I could go on forever!

  • Ruins the chance of children liking school.

    Me, being a 7th grader, saw an article while I was searching for evidence for an essay that I am writing for a school essay which I am writing about why homework is harmful. While I was looking for other people's opinions, I stumbled across a shocking discovery; only 36% of students said that they are happy with their lives, and I can see why it is. Especially during middle school, when most people hit puberty, we need more sleep to help us grow. In fact, I once had to stay up 'til midnight to get all of my homework done! This is also ruining our chance to have fun or continue hobbies. For example, I am currently into coding, but I barely have ant time to code because the teachers are giving tons of homework to us over the weekends. It really makes me laugh about how much the teachers want you to "go outside and enjoy the fresh air" even though they are preventing us from doing this! This all adds up to children getting failing grades, even if they really try. I remember once I was so stressed out that I literally had a mental breakdown. I do not want their to be homework and would do anything for there to be none because failing grades=students hating school.

  • Lack of sleep

    Kids are staying up to late trying to complete homework that the next day they can hardly concentrate in class, for example, i get home from school at 4:30 and i have sports practice from 5:00-8:00 and i stay up until 10-11 trying to do my homework and the next day i can hardly pay attention.

  • Lack of sleep

    Kids are staying up to late trying to complete homework that the next day they can hardly concentrate in class, for example, i get home from school at 4:30 and i have sports practice from 5:00-8:00 and i stay up until 10-11 trying to do my homework and the next day i can hardly pay attention.

  • Homework is redundant and a waste of time. You face consequences for not completing it.

    Is homework helpful? Well some people may consider it a helping hand in education whilst other may consider it a waste of time. I believe it’s futile and that homework is set as part of curriculum and not in the best interest of the student. Teachers care more about whether homework is completed rather that the student even learning.

    Homework is made compulsory to students and if it isn’t completed, there will be consequences. This peruses a fear factor for students to complete it even if they do not enjoy it. Are they benefiting from homework or are they merely doing it to avoid the consequences? They are just repeating what they have been taught during school hours. Yes, practicing what you have been taught is essential in learning but if you do it involuntarily, chances of you actually absorbing the information is little. Students just want to get homework over and done with. Most of the time they don’t care if the answers are correct, they just do it to avoid the consequences. This classes the student as being underperforming. In some situation, some student may find homework to be redundant and not even complete it. They then will have to face the consequences and when they do, time is being waste in doing completely nothing. The student could have done something productive in the duration he/she was kept in detention. The student is labelled a badly behaved student just because they didn’t do their homework. Should this be the case?

    Most of the time, when homework is set, it is set in large quantity with a short deadline. This overwhelms the student. Homework goes from an “essential part of learning” to a burden. The time for the student to relax, socialise is shortened and even some cases removed. The student would have to sit for a long period of time completing the homework. This would lead to frustration and eventually the loss of interest towards the subject. The motivation of learning is reduced if a student is constantly burdened with homework. This is just for one subject, imagine what it may be like for 8 subjects. The love of learning and being educated is lost because of homework. Now let’s take another scenario. The student has homework to complete but decides to socialise with his/her friends. They then arrive home to realise that they have homework due in tomorrow so they stay up really late completing it. They have a short amount of sleep which affects their performance the next day. People may argue that deadline are usually a week long so why didn’t the student complete it beforehand. Well, many students have a bad habit of procrastinating so they leave homework till the last day. If there wasn’t any homework, they will not have anything to procrastinate about. Also, in some lessons, the deadline is the next day as the teacher believes the homework is really short.

  • Homework is downright painful.

    Sometimes I don't understand it (particularly math), my mom does not understand it, and at times my dad doesn't understand it either. Since adults make this stuff we have to deal with, "that's saying a lot." Books need to come home with the homework that show examples and not just the worksheets. I might be able to understand the assignments better if they would show us the way and examples on how to do it.

  • Stress on you and your children!

    Your kids already go to school for about 8 hours, and when they get home all of their energy is gone away from working all day. Don't they already learn at school? So what's the point of doing it at home? I know some parents let kids cheat from the Internet. Overall nobody is learning anything, it's just more stress for everyone.

  • Teachers fail at teaching

    If teacher teach us enough, we shouldn't need homework you can claim that it's practice, but don't we practice ENOUGH during 8 hours of school?! If teachers really taught us, we wouldn't need homework, or papers. And besides, who remembers homework the day after. It's such a chore, we don't even take time to remember what's actually being taught. Heck, just search it on the internet.

  • Super Unhealthy Conditions

    Because it Causes too much stress and you don't get enough sleep because you are trying to finish all the homework you get. Grownups are constantly reminding kids about how they are supposed to stay healthy but what they don't realize it that its almost nearly impossible to exercise when our schedule is full trying to get our homework done, and its hard to eat breakfast when you go to bed late and wake it to get ready in 10 minutes, and its SOOOOO FFFRREEAAAKKEENNN HHARRRDD TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP WHEN YOU HAVE MOUNTAIN LOADS OF HOMEWORK HANGING OVER YOUR SHOULDER PULLING YOU DOWN TO THE DEPTHS OF FAILURE AND DESPAIR!!! HOW CAN THE GOVERNMENT POSSIBLY EXPECT US TO COMPLETE HIGH SCHOOL IN THESE HORRIBLE HEALTH CONDITIONS?!?!? THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE ABSOLUTELY STUPID! Kids these days are constantly developing scars from the depression they have to face when they fail in school. We can save lives if we just try and i mean TRY to change the current school conditions. People are facing suicide every day! Why not try to save them?

  • To much stress

    Many kids commit suicide because of stress. I know this being a successful NASA scientist. So don't let them do homework because kids who play assassins creed and watch TV scored highest out of 100 kids. Only 5 that did homework got 20% at least the kids who didn't average got average got 80%. So do you want your kids to be smart.