“Unless you do set homework, your data isn’t going to show what you need it to show.”

A mixed methods study exploring teachers’ perceptions and experiences of homework for children aged 4-11 years in one primary school in the West Midlands.

I have just completed my final year studying the BA Early Childhood Degree. I began to consider what I might like to research for my dissertation during my second year of study for the Foundation Degree In Early Childhood after completing a research module. As a mum and a Teaching Assistant I began to reflect on how primary school homework impacts on; the homelife of children and their families, academic progress and teacher time. Having conducted initial searches of established literature within this area, I discovered that although homework is a globally embedded phenomenon and a readily expected element of the UK education system by all key stakeholders, there is little empirical research or evidence to either substantiate or refute its benefits for the education and wellbeing of our youngest children. Moreover, the impact from the globalisation and ‘schoolification’ of education whereby school like practices aimed at older children appear in the lives of ever younger children was found to link to datafication and the drive to produce measurable outcomes of performativity through more formal work set to complete at home.

 Furthermore, current discussions about child mental health and wellbeing linked to the impact of work set to complete at home and even more so during the current Covid 19 pandemic which has further impacted upon home learning and children’s abilities to work independently away from their peers and school settings. Thus, my concept for my research was realised and I began the lengthy process of gathering evidence for my literature review. This led me to discover that there is little research within the UK regarding homework and a particular gap regarding primary school homework and even more pertinently, the views and practices of primary teachers have been neglected.

Findings suggest that the measurability of the true impact of homework on child wellbeing  and academic progress is limited because of certain risk factors that impact on the homelives of children. Risk factors such as; domestic violence, looked after children, safe spaces to study, parental education, parental views, after school activities/commitments and elite athletes or musicians all play a role in determining how much time and effort is spent on completing work set for home. Such findings mirror the work of Bronfenbrenner (1979) who reflected via his Ecological Model on the importance of the environmental impact upon a child throughout their life. Therefore, it is impossible to attribute academic progress and child wellbeing solely to the impact of homework. But what can be determined is that the views and values of key stakeholders such as; teachers’, children and their families through more small-scale studies such as my own, help to contribute to the wider picture for educators in developing setting specific practices that benefit and enhance the communities they serve and help to ensure that all key stakeholders feel their views are valued and heard.  

About the author

This blog was written by Lisa Lane, an Early Childhood final year student.

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