Firstly, this is an opportunity to thank all the children – and parents – who diligently complete their homework week after week, consistently and without complaint. This straightforward response to a necessary chore contributes not only to the children’s progress at school but also to their personal and social development. In particular, it helps children acquire the capacity and readiness to get on with something which needs to be done even if they would rather be doing something else, an ability they will find constantly useful in later life!
However, there are children at St. Pancras who only sometimes, or rarely or never do homework. This message is addressed to these children and their parents and carers and starts from the premise that if I don’t force the issue – as best I can – then these children are going to be disadvantaged, academically, personally and socially.
Some parents may say, in response, that they don’t care; that homework is a ‘pain’ for them because their children won’t sit down to it willingly; that it’s the school’s job to educate their children, not the job of parents who are tired at the end of the day.
This is wrong on all counts.
If parents don’t care, they should. Children might be happy – temporarily – to get out of homework, but, in the long run, they love the satisfaction and the praise which comes with completed homework even more. Of course, they need to be nudged in the right direction, encouraged and occasionally assisted. And, yes, it is tough on parents at times. But being a parent is tough. Hardly justification for letting children get away with not doing what they should be doing.
It is indeed the school’s job to educate children. However, parents are the Number One educators of their children, with the biggest influence over their attitudes and behaviour and the biggest say over what children do with their time.
Homework is here to stay. Politicians think it’s a good thing, Ofsted inspects homework provision, high schools set mountains of it and most parents want homework too, as long as it comes in manageable quantities and at the right level. Furthermore, under equal opportunities legislation all pupils are entitled to homework and to the support necessary to get it done.
In the last analysis, it is impossible, it seems, to come up with a persuasive reason for allowing some pupils to avoid homework. It is equally hard for me – as headteacher of this school – to effectively disadvantage pupils by allowing them not to do homework when something could be done about it.
Homework opportunities at school pick up some of these issues. Children who do not do homework have to give up some playtime to attend a class-based homework club and get it done there, albeit late. Much as this helps, it is not a substitute for getting homework done and handing it in on time. Children have already done the avoidance bit and, rather than exercising some self discipline, cannot exercise choice about Homework Club – they are ‘required’ to go.
There are other issues too. When some children are effectively ‘let off’ homework, it makes it much harder for the parents who support homework to expect their children to do it. And to release certain pupils from the obligation of homework would be to expose them to a major shock at high school where homework is more rigorously enforced.
I have decided that homework should be done and must be done. Senior staff at St. Pancras will join with me in making good homework a distinctive feature of the school. The expectation is – from the beginning of this School Year – that all children will complete all homework – on time – every time.
When homework is not done (i.e. not done at all, not finished or not done to a sufficiently high standard), I will contact the child’s parents or carers in order that we might meet in person. Only exceptional reasons will be accepted. If homework is still not done, I will contact parents relentlessly until it is . . . until the child in question is given the same support as those pupils whose parents simply get on with it.
The aim is the discontinuation of class-based homework provision because it is no longer necessary.
For our part, we shall do all that we can to assist parents and carers. We already set homework on a Wednesday or Thursday for return on a Monday so that it can be scheduled by families and will not curtail family activities. We will continue to do this, supported by advice and guidance on this website. And we will always ensure that homework is work that children can do; that it is reinforcement, not new and unfamiliar material, unless children want more challenging material.
Once again, I should like to thank all those parents and carers – and children – who just get on with homework without a fuss. At the same time I respectfully ask all those parents and carers – and children – who do not to turn it round so that the St. Pancras School community can truly be said to be one which does the business, even though it might be painful and inconvenient.
Stephen Barker, Headteacher
PLEASE CONTACT US:
Mr. Stephen Barker, Headteacher, St. Pancras Catholic Primary School, Stratford Road, Ipswich. IP1 6EF.
Telephone: 01473 742074. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School Office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Mrs. Karen Cork and Mrs. Collette Ransom will be pleased to address any enquiries.
PLEASE NOTE: Any parent who would like to have information on this website in hard copy is entitled to receive it free of charge. Please make any request to the School Office.