Damian Hinds: Homework ‘integral part of learning’

Education secretary responds to celebrity complaints about homework, saying it bolsters learning and character

Damian Hinds: Call for more free schools

Education secretary Damian Hinds has talked up the benefits of homework, in response to recent calls from various celebrities for it to be scrapped.

Mr Hinds also said, however, that children should not be spending an “inordinate amount of time every night doing homework” as that would get in the way of play and family time.

Celebrities such as Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker last month dismissed homework as “a waste of time” that was a “divisive” force in families, in response to a tweet by UK-based American comedian and actor Rob Delaney (see below).

Writing in The Sunday Times today, Mr Hinds said: “There have been some high-profile comments on social media suggesting that homework is bad for children, at least in primary schools. There have even been questions about its legal status.

“Just to be clear: schools are not obliged to set homework and some don’t. But when schools do set homework, children need to do it. We trust individual headteachers to decide their policy on homework and what happens if pupils don’t do it.”

He added: “Homework isn’t just some joyless pursuit of knowledge. It’s an integral part of learning. Beyond the chance to practise and reinforce what you’ve learnt in class, it’s also an opportunity to develop independent study and application – and character traits such as perseverance.”

However, Mr Hinds also stressed that “teachers need to be realistic about expectations”, that homework should be “of lasting benefit” and that it “should not in general require adult help”.

He said: “No one wants children spending an inordinate amount of time every night doing homework. There are other important things to do – such as playing outside, family time, eating together.”

Mr Hinds also cited research from the Education Endowment Foundation, which had “established that, although there are more significant educational improvements from homework at secondary school, there can still be a modest but positive impact at primary level”.

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