There is “absolutely no benefit” to homework in primary school, according to a leading child psychotherapist.
Colman Noctor is calling for primary school homework to be abolished altogether – warning that it can ruin children’s relationship with school, without offering any educational benefit.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, he said that, as the pandemic recedes, young children are increasingly talking about homework as the cause of their anxieties.
“I am well aware that I see the thin end of the wedge here, but homework is definitely up in the top five of things that are discussed in therapy with children as a difficulty,” he said.
“Oftentimes, it is a battleground for tears, arguments, rows – especially for children who struggle with buying into education, or struggle with learning or even just struggle with being in school.”
He said a range of international studies have shown that homework is not beneficial to young children.
“When you look into it, there is actually no perceived benefits to homework, especially in primary school,” he said.
“There are people who have done far more research on this than I and it seems absolutely nonsensical that we would persist with something that has absolutely no benefit and causes a great deal of difficulty.”
Mr Noctor originally raised the issue in his Irish Examiner column and in the days since, he said he had received huge support form primary school teachers.
“When I wrote the column, I expected a backlash and I thought teachers might say, absolutely not but what I can’t believe is, over the last few days, every single teacher that has replied has said you’re absolutely right, it has no benefit and we don’t know why we’re doing it or we shouldn’t be doing it,” he said.
“I have absolutely no clue why or who is pushing the agenda as to why this is important.
“To say look we have always done it and this is just how it is … when there is something that has no benefit, clearly creates a difficult relationship for children with school, then why persist with it?”
Mr Noctor stressed that he is not calling for an end to homework just to make life easier for children and parents.
“On the other side of it, we shouldn’t just remove things for children’s lives because they don’t like them,” he said.
“That is not how this works; children need surmountable stress, but they also need to know that what they are doing has a purpose and a function.”
He said the evidence clearly shows that there is no benefit to homework in primary school
“If we look at children who do homework and we look at children who don’t do homework - I am talking about primary school here - there is no evidence of a difference in academic achievement between the two,” he said.
“This is not just one isolated study. This is global. This is a highly researched topic.”
You can listen back here: