Homework upsets balance of needs;Letter

16th July 1999 at 01:00
I WAS delighted to read the research findings of Durham University on homework for 11-year-olds (TES, July 2). Many parents will confirm that primary homework can put children off learning and so it is encouraging to find that those who did maths homework once or twice a week did no better than those who only tackled homework occasionally.

There are difficulties in setting regular, formal homework as primary children need supervision and help. I have no objections to general expectations that children should read regularly at home, learn times tables and spellings, engage in some research tasks or even prepare such things as a three-minute talk at home.

However, these should be set with reasonably long time allowances, ie half a term, or at least one week. My reasons are twofold: parents who work may not collect their children until early evening and then "quality" time together is vital; and children of this age often participate in group activities such as Cubs, Brownies, music, sports etc. which is vital when schools have to work so hard to cover the national curriculum.

The balance of a child's developmental needs, in terms of their family, social and academic requirements, should be carefully considered by the Government when planning to raise standards. I fully endorse the need for further controlled trials before the "more is better" policy commits every pupil to a homework regime without flexibility or understanding.

Sally Bartlett 31 East Common Redbourn, Herts

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