A small but potentially growing number of WA public schools are banning homework for primary students so they can spend more time relaxing, reading and playing.
At least four schools have introduced official “no homework” policies — all they ask of students is to read a little each night, preferably with their parents.
They argue homework is of no benefit to younger children and can even be detrimental because it gets in the way of important family and recreation time, which allows children to recharge their batteries after a busy day of learning at school.
It could be the start of a quiet revolution, with a number of other schools watching closely before taking the leap themselves.
Benefit of homework questioned
Bramfield Park Primary School, in the Perth suburb of Maddington, introduced its no homework policy last year, but it came with strings attached.
Principal Jayne Murray said the school wanted children reading or being read to every night, getting out and playing rather than being glued to a screen, and also getting a good night’s sleep.
“They work really hard when they’re here everyday. They’re on task, they’re really learning a lot, so we think after school is a time to do something else, not be on their screens but get outside and play.
“It’s a stress for parents, it’s a stress for teachers.
“Finding that time to sit down with your child is difficult if you’re busy.”
She said only a small number of parents requested homework for their children and the school directed them to online learning resources including ABC Reading Eggs and Mathletics, or encouraged them to get a tutor.
‘We don’t need our children to be busy’
Newly opened Southern Grove Primary School, in the south Perth suburb of Southern River, introduced its no homework policy this year.
Currently the school only has kindergarten and pre-primary students, but the policy will apply to Years K-6 next year.
Principal Rebecca Burns said the decision was research-driven and the school had decided to foster a love of reading instead. “I would like them to be playing board games, I would like them to be outside doing some physical activity and sport, playing with their friends and also just having that down time.
“We need them to be able to relax, have a break and just be themselves.”
Other schools adopting a similar approach include Honeywood Primary School in the outlying Perth suburb of Wandi and Bletchley Park Primary School in Southern River, where homework was banned 11 years ago.
But after a recent review, Bletchley Park has approved limited homework, allowing spelling lists, times tables, and project work for the final term in Year 6, to better prepare students for high school.