Questioning Homework

Homework has always been an educational hot potato. How much should be set and indeed should it be set at all?

Over the weekend the Head at Cheltenham Ladies College tackled this question head on and, if you strip away the sensational headlines, she was essentially asking, what is the purpose of homework?

At BGS we ask that question often. It should never be simply a tool to complete work unfinished in class, a time filler or any form of meaningless exercise. Instead it should be something that fires the girls’ imagination, it should extend their thinking and understanding, and offer a chance to find a solution to a problem. At all times it should encourage them to work independently.

Homework is about providing skills that best prepares our pupils for the workplace, and if used effectively, should be the spark for a thirst for learning.

This year we have reviewed the homework we provide in the Junior School and introduced QED (Question, Explore, Discover). It is homework in which girls choose what they do because the homework comes in different packages. QED encourages them to work independently, to find out the answers to the questions they want to answer. The work they do often stimulates discussions in class and operates like a flipped classroom, where the homework becomes the stimulus of the lesson rather than the product or outcome of a lesson.

We have been astonished by the results. Parents report back that their daughters look forward to getting home to do their QED in a way they never imagined possible. They share with their parents what they want to do and why. The quality of endeavour and joy in their learning is evident when you discuss with them, as I did last week, about the work they have completed.

Homework should not be a chore. It has its purpose in education, but can be abused if treated as an expectation that it is something that has to be done. Like Cheltenham Ladies College, we reflect upon our practices to ensure that we always educate our girls to be fit and ready for the future.

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