§ Mr. Pawsey
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will publish the findings of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools survey into good practices in schools in relation to homework.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
The inspectorate's report on its limited inspection of the extent, nature and quality of homework in all types of school has been published today. The report draws attention to examples of good practice. Copies of the report have been placed in the Library.
Her Majesty's inspectors found that the potential of homework as part of the learning process was not being fully exploited in many schools. Its most successful use was where it was interpreted and implemented flexibly as part of the school's policy for the curriculum which was understood by staff, pupils and parents, and where it was clearly related to other teaching and learning approaches. Other hallmarks of good practice included high-quality assignments to pupils which were appropriate to their age and ability; and use of the opportunity to develop skills of independent learning and to make the most of the local environment. Good practice also depended upon enlisting the constructive support of parents and other adults.
The findings confirm the Government in their view that appropriately set and marked homework valuably reinforces work in the classroom. It can support the objectives of the school curriculum in a number of ways, for example by extending the pupils' day and by giving individual pupils work which is matched to their ability. But it is also clear that parents have a central role to play in co-operating with teachers to ensure that homework is done and to get best value out of it for their children. Too often parents ignore their responsibilities, allow TV to take precedence over homework, and fail to make the contribution they might to raising standards in schools.
I hope that, in discharging their responsibilities for the curriculum under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, local education authorities, governing bodies and head teachers will consider carefully the findings of this report and will review the place of homework in the work of their schools. Every local education authority and school should have a policy for homework as part of its policy for the curriculum as a whole. It should state clearly what is expected of parents in order to make homework an effective contribution to their child's education. The policy should offer guidance on the amount, range and character of homework which should be expected of pupils at different ages and abilities in both the primary and secondary stages. It should recognise the different needs of pupils and the importance of homework being properly assessed in ways that are helpful and constructive for the individual pupil; and it should give guidance on ways of helping pupils whose home circumstances make it difficult for them to study at home.
I shall take account of the report's conclusions in the proposals I am developing for a national school curriculum.