Only a quarter of primary schools make good use of homework, according to Chief Inspector Chris Woodhead's annual report.
But another OFSTED study, examining school homework policies and practices in detail, offers help in thinking about how to make homework an effective and key part of the curriculum.
Homework: learning from practice is intended to serve as a resource for schools in interpreting the Government's national guidelines. Partnership with parents is fundamental, but each school needs to find the type of arrangement that best suits its own style and the community it serves, the document shows.
"Some schools took a very strong lead and expected parents to follow it... Other schools were operating in a very different context where such an approach would have been inappropriateI."
Indicators of good practice include:
* a policy led by a senior manager * active involvement by staff and parents * homework structured to help pupils develop regular study patterns * regular feedback, praise and rewards for effort * additional resources, such as access to computers or books, offered to pupils where possible * learning goals defined for homework.
Homework: learning from practice by Penelope Weston, pound;11.95 from HMSO