Ofsted has said its inspectors will not assess how homework is being done under its new framework because schools should decide whether or not they set it for their pupils.
Homework is not mentioned at all in the new education inspection framework, which Ofsted is using from today to inspect schools.
This marks a change from the previous inspection regime, which looked at homework as part of the way it assessed the teaching, learning and assessment of pupils.
Under Ofsted’s new regime, this inspection category has been replaced with a new "quality of education" grade – with an increased emphasis on the curriculum.
Ofsted shifts focus away from homework
A spokesperson for the inspectorate said: “We have not included homework in the new inspection framework because, in line with government guidance, it is up to schools to decide whether or not they set it for their pupils.
"Under the new framework, inspectors will assess the wide range of work provided to pupils to ensure it supports and reinforces what is taught in the classroom and the wider curriculum."
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the move to take homework out of the inspection framework had been criticised “as a retrograde step” by the Campaign for Real Education, which favours a traditional approach to teaching.
Tes reported earlier this year that Ofsted will also no longer be asking parents for their views about their children’s homework as part of its online survey.
The inspectorate has produced a new set of questions it will ask through its Parent View site from this week.
As part of these changes, the inspectorate will stop asking parents whether they think their children received appropriate homework for their age.
Ofsted explained the change by saying : “For homework, it is up to individual schools to decide whether it is age-appropriate, in line with their policy. Inspectors do not assess homework as part of inspections.”
The inspectorate had previously placed more emphasis on homework.
In 2016, it surveyed more than 300 parents on the topic. It said those parents who responded positively said homework helped them to feel part of their children’s learning.
However, Ofsted found that a common view held by parents was that homework caused huge stress for the whole family and so impacted negatively on home life.
Under the last inspection regime, Ofsted grade descriptors for "outstanding" schools said teachers would “set challenging homework, in line with the school’s policy and as appropriate for the age and stage of pupils, that consolidates learning, deepens understanding and prepares pupils very well for work to come”.