Ofsted cuts homework checks from inspection: should children have to study outside of school?

Ofsted are making changes to their homework framework [Photo: Getty]
Ofsted are making changes to their homework framework [Photo: Getty]

School inspectors will no longer check whether schools are setting appropriate homework for pupils.

According to The Times, Ofsted, the school inspectorate, will this week remove all references to homework from its inspection framework, while a question on homework in Ofsted’s parent survey will also been dropped.

Effectively this suggests schools in England with a no-homework policy could still be rated good or outstanding.

But critics have raised concerns that the change could mean a reduction in the amount of time children spend studying outside school.

Chris McGovern, a former Ofsted inspector and chair of the Campaign for Real Education, told The Times: “This is a retrograde step that is not going to raise standards. Many teachers will take the easy way out and not set homework from now on.”

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An Ofsted spokesman told the publication: “We have not included homework in the new inspection framework because it is up to schools to decide whether they set it for pupils.

“Under the new framework, inspectors will assess the wide range of work provided to pupils to ensure it supports and reinforces what is taught in the classroom and the wider curriculum.

“Parents’ views are important in helping inspectors get a rounded view of the school. So, following extensive research with parents, we are also updating Parent View [the Ofsted online survey] to reflect our new approach to inspections.

“The new questions are based on what parents want to know and can answer, what inspectors want to know and what schools find useful.”

Many parents admit to struggling with their children's homework [Photo: Getty]
Many parents admit to struggling with their children's homework [Photo: Getty]

Despite some concern the move could be embraced by many parents, who have admitted to feeling the pressure when it comes to helping out with their children’s homework.

According to recent research by Oxford Home Schooling only a third (33%) of parents feel confident helping their child with homework,

Of 1,000 parents surveyed, nearly a quarter (23%) of parents feel pressurised when their child asks them for help, while nearly a third (31%) feel embarrassed when they're unable to answer a question.

This could explain why so many parents are now turning to technology to help them with their children's homework questions.

Over three-quarters (76%) admit to using the internet to help with answers, while interestingly, more than one in ten (11%) seek support from virtual assistants, such as Alexa or Siri.

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It's not just the difficulty of homework which parents have issue with, but also the frequency.

A further study by Oxford Home Schooling found that a quarter (25%) of parents think their child receives too much.

At primary school level, nearly a third (31%) of children spend five or more hours on homework every week, while a staggering one in twenty (5%) completes over 11 hours.

Celebrities calling for homework to be banned

The topic of homework continues to be a divisive subject.

Earlier this year Danielle Lloyd drew criticism from some parents after controversially claiming that most homework should be banned.

Kirstie Allsopp, Gary Lineker and comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Delany have also fired up debates on social media after calling for homework bans.

Meanwhile, responding to research that showed 53% of eight to 18-year-olds read for pleasure, down from 59% from three years ago, Allsopp claimed homework was a contributing factor.

"Hardly surprising figures, the joint assault of absurd homework, which takes time from reading, and the smartphone & tablet, it's amazing any kids are reading for pleasure," she tweeted.

Kirstie Allsopp at the Save the Children Centenary Gala in London in May 2019 [Photo: Getty]
Kirstie Allsopp at the Save the Children Centenary Gala in London in May 2019 [Photo: Getty]

"Reading is everything, homework other than reading is a waste of time and causes conflict & unhappiness in many families, mine included,” she continued.

“My greatest regret as a parent is not taking a firm stance on homework from the very beginning and ensuring that our focus as a family was on reading, reading, reading."