Sir, – I was interested to read Dr Colm Humphries's views on homework (January 26th), particularly his opinion that there should be flexibility regarding homework demands and "variability so that work is individualised".
I used think that too. Now I think that homework should be banned.
When I started primary teaching I had 45 pupils in my class and when I finished a few years ago I had 32 – not a noteworthy improvement for a wealthy developed country over an almost 40-year period.
Given the high numbers and the range of abilities and learning difficulties in most primary school classrooms, it is totally impractical for teachers to individualise work.
A skilled teacher will differentiate in her teaching and in her support for her pupils’ learning throughout the school day but homework is generally a blunt instrument, set for a mid-ability level – some children will romp through it in 10 minutes, and others, and their parents, will agonise over it for an hour.
Giving homework, even if the same work is given to all, takes time – checking that it is noted and understood the first day and reviewing it with the pupils the following day. A two-minute review with each child will take over an hour. This is time that is not justified by the quality of the learning involved, so let’s let everyone off the hook – children, parents and teachers.
It would be far better if parents could spend half an hour with their children every evening – reading to them and sharing their lives in some meaningful way. – Yours, etc,