Primary school scraps homework

Newton School in Auckland is scrapping homework, saying pupils are "exhausted". Photo: Supplied
Newton School in Auckland is scrapping homework, saying pupils are "exhausted". Photo: Supplied
An Auckland school is scrapping homework - asking parents to instead read with their children.

Newton Central School will this year introduce reading only as homework, with children bringing home books and a poetry folder, and parents encouraged to sign and comment in a reading log.

Riki Teteina, principal of the primary school, said staff had been looking at the policy as part of their professional development.

"For children in primary school it is about the cultivation of the love of learning. That comes down to creating an environment where children enjoy learning. One thing that really is important is for our parents, community and staff to promote the love of reading," Teteina said.

"We want children to be developing other competencies – for example, joining clubs, joining sports teams, being involved in a range of activities.

"There is a lot of research out in regards to the effect of homework of student achievement. And particularly in primary schools, there is very little research out there that shows homework improves achievement."

Teteina said there were a number of primary schools that had a similar philosophy of focusing on reading for homework. That focus didn't mean the school wasn't focused on other areas of learning, such as ensuring students learnt their times tables.

He said another aim was to reduce evening stress.

"Alleviating that stress that parents often have in the evenings - they are exhausted, their children are exhausted, and they end up having arguments over homework. Rather than actually having positive discussions about how the day went."

Parent Jeremy Greenbrook-Held said he thought the approach was great.

"I remember homework being a bone of contention in our household when I was at primary school. I think primary school kids are generally too young to have the self-directed drive for homework to be effective. Parents seem to spend the entire evening keeping kids on task instead of doing things that they enjoy.

"Our almost six-year-old daughter is really enjoying school, particularly writing, maths, and science – I'd hate for her to be turned off those subjects because it turned into a chore every night."

A Massey University survey of schoolteachers, parents and students last year found that the students overwhelmingly agree that homework makes them "frustrated and tired" (68 per cent) and doesn't leave enough time for other activities after school (67 per cent).

Newton's approach comes as nearby Kowhai Intermediate this year asks students to cut all links to social media for the two years they attend the school.

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