Homework in primary school 'is just habit and should be scrapped'

Jennifer Horgan said homework could see children associate education with 'being boring'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.59 9 Jan 2023

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Homework in primary school 'is...

Homework in primary school 'is just habit and should be scrapped'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.59 9 Jan 2023

Share this article

There’s no benefit to giving homework to primary school children, according to teacher and columnist Jennifer Horgan.

She told Moncrieff that while homework is needed at second level for exams, it is of no use for younger children.

She said the policy needs to change.


"I genuinely think it's just habit; we've always done it," she said.

“In the past, I suppose, it made sense, because many families had one parent at home - and so you had somebody who could do it.

"We don't have any sort of definite evidence that there are clear benefits to homework.

"There is some research that will tell you that it helps children to build discipline and build independence.

"I can think of many ways for my three kids that I can build their independence and their discipline... it doesn't involve them sitting down and having to do homework".

'Spark curiosity'

She said forcing homework on children when they are already tired may give them "an association of school and education being something that is boring.

"At that age... what we want is to spark curiosity and to inspire and to get them excited.

"We've enough competition out there in the form of screens that we need to make sure the children are excited to come to school, and they're excited to learn".

F7X56D A boy doing maths homework A boy doing maths homework. Picture by: RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

Ms Horgan said homework for senior classes makes sense.

"I'm a secondary school teachers, so I will give homework to my senior students: 5th year and 6th year," she said.

"There is an exam system there that we have to work within and towards, and that's fine.

"Academically, in primary school, there isn't research to backup generic, blanket homework.

"If a child is having difficulty in a certain area, then the teacher and the parent can work together to decide maybe they might have to do a programme - again, that's a different thing."

'It will have to come from parents'

Jennifer said schools can ultimately decide themselves not to give homework as a policy.

"You do have some schools now who don't give homework,” she said.

"You have some schools now who will only give spoken homework - my own children had something called 'Talking Tuesday'.

"They'd go home and they'd have to teach their parents something that they learned, or they'd have to talk about a particular topic.

"It gave us something to chat about at the dinner table... but I think there's definitely an appetite for change.

"I think it will have to come from parents, ultimately, engaging with their individual schools.

"It's all down to the school policies.

"It's absolutely something that can change if the will is there."

'Equal provision'

Ms Horgan said a blanket ban would see all children on an equal footing.

"Teachers don't know what's going on in a child's life, so you're giving out homework, and you're maybe taking away privileges if they don't do it.

"You don't know, that child may not have an appropriate set-up at home to do that work; there may be stuff going on for them.

"Whereas if you keep everything in the classroom, it's at least going to be an equal provision," she added.

Main image: A young boy doing his homework at home. Picture by: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

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