This week homework has been hitting the headlines due to a secondary school in Essex deciding to ban homework. This is an interesting stance and one which the Headteacher has taken due to the workload it adds to her teachers.
In an interview Catherine Hutley, Headteacher at Phillip Morant Secondary said “’The job of a teacher is impossible. There are not enough hours in the day for a teacher to teach, set homework, mark homework, and plan their lessons.”
But the bigger question is, does homework really aid learning?
Research from the Department for Education shows that pupils who do homework perform considerably better in exams than those that don’t. There’s a really helpful article from the Guardian summarising some of this research.
So it would seem the answer is simply a big yes. But as with all these things, it just isn’t that simple. It’s not really about homework, it’s about quality homework.
Ofsted have outlined in their School Inspection Handbook that they expect homework that aids learning.
So what does that mean? It means that homework for the sake of homework just doesn’t cut it anymore. Anyone over the age of 20 will remember colouring in endless maps and making enough posters to fill the Tate Modern, but this effortless homework doesn’t aid learning.
So what’s the solution?
Taking another look at the case of Philip Morant Secondary School, it’s not as clear cut as it seems in the headlines, the Headteacher has outlined that this “ban” on homework isn’t that black and white. Catherine Hutley has said that home learning is very much encouraged, and prizes will be given to the most dedicated students. This is simply a way to reduce teacher workload and stop homework that has no value.
So where does technology come into it?
We feel that without technology teacher workload will become unmanageable. Frog builds technology with the aim to remove paperwork associated with teaching, and our perspective is that homework can be an effortless task for teachers.
Frog gives teachers:
- 250,000 questions made by education experts in line with the curriculum which can be assigned in a couple of clicks
- Automatic marking
- Homework linked to your curriculum (in line with Ofsted requirements)
So how does Frog really aid learning?
This quiz based style of learning provided by Frog has been show to improve performance in the classroom. A year 7 student at a Frog School named Lok-Yi has highlighted that using Frog for home learning gave her the confidence to participate in class.
Lok-Yi has recently moved to the UK and English isn’t her first language, but through her homework she has been able to work on her reading and writing skills with the help of game based learning covering a range of topics. You can read Lok-Yi’s full story here.
The same school also implemented Frog to help with their flipped learning strategy meaning they have pupils undertaking home learning and so they can make the most of their contact time with students in class.
For us, cases like Lok-Yi’s are why we come to work, and we wouldn’t invest so much in homework if we didn’t believe in it’s ability to aid learning, but we do think it needs to be done in the right way.
You can read the full story about Philip Morant Secondary School here.
By Michael Wilkinson, Deputy Managing Director at Frog Education