Holiday Homework Letter

Personally, my view is that homework is totally unnecessary for primary school pupils and those in the first three years of secondary school education. However, I will concede that it is necessary when students reach their crucial exam years.

At that stage – from year 10 and higher – homework assignments serve a purpose; they provide opportunities for students to develop valuable skills in independent research, academic citing, and the fundamental principles of academic honesty.

>> Parents paid £600 'to help their children with homework'

Ultimately each school, teacher and parent will draw their own line in the sand when determining the correct age for pupils to be given homework; but discussions over homework should not stop there.

What must be asked is the value homework provides to students and, in my opinion, that debate should be based upon three questions:

• Is that homework beneficial for the student’s personal education goals?

• Will homework assignments help to develop the student’s independent learning skills?

• How can educators guard against placing undue pressure on students and help parents support their child’s learning?

Today, league tables and exam results have created a mechanistic education system. Schools, pupils and teachers are too often focused on achieving scores and targets.

In my view, this underpins the homework debate, and it completely negates the truest goal of education, which is to inspire and nurture a student’s love for learning.

For parents, when it comes to homework, there is a fine line between helping your children and doing the work for them. Just as teachers should avoid placing unwarranted pressure on their students, parents should appreciate that by doing the work for them, they are in fact hindering their child’s ability to think independently.

Homework becomes an exercise in futility if children aren’t allowed to take charge of their own learning. Instead, parents should put their efforts into providing an environment which helps to instil a real desire to learn.

>> School bans homework to give pupils more 'family time'

As I have already stated, there will always be times, such as exam preparation, when parents and teachers need to ensure students are studying at home. In my opinion, the true issue isn’t whether students should work at home, it’s whether homework should be routinely assigned?

If schools are teaching correctly and engaging students, the majority of homework becomes irrelevant. In my experience, engaged students regardless of age will, on their own initiative, actively seek to advance their knowledge and learning outside of school. In such cases the teacher and parent roles should then act to support this drive in whatever way they can.

In my own school (which I should mention is an international sixth-form boarding school), we try to use experiential learning to engage and enthuse our students. We do this by providing a dual programme which sees students split their school time equally between academics and corresponding extra-curricular activities.

Frequently, students themselves will take the lead in setting up extra-curricular activities outside of school hours.

>> Extra-curricular activities are worth the extra effort

Having taught in many kinds of schools in the UK and abroad, I can honestly say that no-other curriculum does more to encourage students to become actively involved in their own learning.

While I accept that not every school will have the luxury of adopting a co-curricular programme to the extent we have; it’s an option I actively encourage them to try, and I believe it would be more readily welcomed by their students.

Personally, I don’t think schools should routinely issue students with homework (particularly below GCSE classes). Ultimately, as a parent your question shouldn’t be “why are schools giving so much homework?” but rather, “is this homework relevant, interesting and does it encourage independent thinking?”

John Walmsley is principal of UWC Atlantic College

Year 4 Holiday Homework

Year 4 Holiday Homework


We have learned lots over the last term about the Water Cycle and the Rainforest, but next term our new topic will be The Mayans. These were an ancient civilisation in South America.



Over the holidays, we would like you to research about the Mayan temples, what they were used for and who they were built for. You can present your findings in a variety of ways. (e.g. posters, ppt, models, fact books, poems, letters etc)


Use the Blooms scale below to see how you could challenge yourself.

To find out who the Mayans were.To create a poster about the temple.To draw a temple and write information about it.To look at how they built the temples and what they looked like inside.To explain fully who built the temples and why they built them. To know how long they took.To create a 3D model of a temple with written facts about how long it took them to build, what they used it for and who it was built for.


Mathletics homework will be set. If you do not have access to a computer/tablet at home, then Wibsey Library has free internet access. If you have trouble getting the app on your tablet or finding the web address, please double check that you are accessing the UK site.


We hope you have an amazing holiday and or those of you who are celebrating Christmas, we hope you have a festive and enjoyable time.


Stay safe and we’ll see you in 2018!

Mr Richards, Mrs Bilevych and Mr Hussain

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