Teenagers in the UK put in more hours doing homework than their peers in Finland and Sweden. The OECD think tank, which carries out the Pisa tests of school performance, has produced an international comparison of the time pupils spend doing homework, the BBC reports.
The study shows that while UK pupils put in more hours at home than Finland, Germany, Sweden and Austria they lag behind teenagers in top-performers like Singapore, Korea and Shanghai. In Europe, Italy, Ireland and Poland are ahead of the UK in the amount of homework they set pupils.
The most distinctive feature of the UK’s homework hours is the social gap between wealthy and disadvantaged pupils. Although there is an international pattern for urban middle class youngsters to spend more time on homework, the UK has one of the widest gaps – and this is likely to widen the divide in how well they perform in exams, as there is a link between the time spent on homework and higher achievement.
Andreas Schleicher, OECD’s Director of Education, said the gap between rich and poor could be caused by a lack of space to study, or reflect the help that parents can give. He said that schools could help to bridge the gap by providing space for pupils to do their homework and giving advice to parents to help them motivate their children. “The homework still has to be done, but maybe students and their parents will find it a little less troublesome,” he said.
ASCL’s Brian Lightman agreed that homework can have a “powerful impact on attainment” but warned: “It is nevertheless important that children also have spare time for themselves. There is a risk that exam pressure can lead to excessive time spent on homework, thus undermining opportunities for young people to develop character, skills and qualities to be successful in later life.”
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