No work homework

One of the UK’s most prestigious schools could be looking to cancel all homework for its pupils and provide meditation lessons in a bid to try and prevent mental health problems.

Cheltenham Ladies College is set to review its homework policies over the next five years because of concerns over the growing problem of depression and mental health issues in young people. School Principal Eve Jardine-Young told The Times that she is considering fully abolishing homework depending on the results from the five year review. “What we’ve been reflecting on a lot in the last few years are the big national trends in the worsening states of adolescent mental health” the Principal continued to say.

The school encourages its pupils to attend weekly meditation sessions and to go on long walks in a bid to try and combat mental illness, with Ms Jardine-Young stating that the pupils’ well-being is as important as their grades. Cheltenham Ladies is also looking into university-style “flip learning”; a method of learning that allows pupils to be able to read up on class material before the lesson as an alternative to homework, in certain subjects. “We’ve created this epidemic of anxiety for ourselves as a society, and if our obligation as educators is to try to set young people up as for whatever the future may hold, then to ignore this whole area or trivialise it is really irresponsible”.

Teachers at Cheltenham Ladies College will be trained to spot signs of mental illness in pupils, and from September the school will allow twice as long between lessons to try and avoid rushing across the large campus. Pupils of the schools currently have short lessons lasting around 25 minutes and the schools hopes that longer lessons and more time between them will stop the constant rushing that can cause pupils to become stressed.

But is this the right way to stop mental illness? Will this leave pupils ill prepared for the ‘real world’? Often there isn’t time to meditate in a work environment, and if you have a deadline to reach are you able to go home and forget about it by going on a long walk? Will this just lead to mental illness once they enter the workplace?

What do you think? Have your say…

21 thoughts on “No work homework

  1. Well-being is more important. If you don’t have a high sense of well-being everything else grinds to a halt!

  2. emotional well-being has long been undervalued in the education system.
    there needs to be a better balance.
    Homework has its place – but not to the exclusion of free time . Schools should be laying down strict time limits for homework. Its simple really.
    Maybe one hour /75 mins a night in Year 7, working up to as much as you want and need to do in years 11-13.
    I used to hold ‘calm’ sessions after school during the exam period. Very well attended and highly valued , i was told , by parents and pupils.

  3. It’s always good to try out new methods of work, otherwise we would never progress as a society… times change so why not change habits as well…

  4. Is this not another example of spoon feeding. Results and responsibility now lies with teachers and pupils don’t need to take resposability for their own education this is another example of the education system making the system easier for those who cannot adapt. Although I agree and understand we have an obligation to safeguard the well being of every learner. At what expense-making them less equipped for the real world by teaching them its expectable to give up. Resilience, resourcefulness, independence and punctuality are but a few of the skills homework makes the pupil engage.

  5. I like the idea of ‘flip-learning’ and feel it is much more achievable and produces less stress. Meditation/yoga is a great way to provide children with various techniques to avoid or redue stress. I use breathing an yoga techniques with my primary class( also great for improving concentration and engagement)

  6. I totally agree with Lynn. If people are given the skills to manage their well-being and mental health at a young age,, stress in the work place would be reduced in the future. Meditation may become a part of your daily routine and going for a walk to calm yourself before a deadline might actually help you produce better work! I think the pupils in this school are very lucky and this is something all schools should consider.

  7. Very good idea. But in order for this idea to have legs Headteachers/Governors and all other power brokers need to make this an issue. They wont though.

  8. This would also ease the pressure on beleaguered teachers under pressure to set and mark weekly homework tasks whether or not it’s appropriate. Students are under too much pressure.

  9. I’ve been gradually phasing out homework over my years as an English teacher. I do still expect my students to read at home, to complete independent projects, but I give about half of class time over to work periods where they get on with essay planning, researching, short-answer questions or whatever, and I work one on one with individuals. We cover less, but they make more progress. This is possible in the Canadian system since I set my own exams.

  10. Sorry Steve, they will. The reality is that in business those very things are recommended and encouraged for business owners, in recognition of the mental clarity they bring. Any of the past or present business gurus will include in their coaching and teaching emphasis on the necessity of a clear mind. Our modern society is one of innumerable distractions, abysmal nutrition and huge social unrest, the product of school policies and school influence over the decades since WW2, observable in no small way in the manner in which many parents raise their children – or don’t! The epidemic of weak parenting skills, including most young adults’ being totally ignorant of the kind of nutrition which can elevate mental alertness and make a major contribution to emotional stability, is not only the result of lack of understanding by a past generation of teachers but a major contributory factor in encouraging lack of understanding and empathy in the great majority of teachers I’ve worked with over the last ten years.

    Taking the focus off homework, taking the pressure off the pupils at school, feeling and demonstrating respect for the unique human being each child is, and focussing on the enjoyment of learning as opposed to an “obligation to learn”, are the ingredients for more balanced human beings and outstanding levels of academic success. Our national and global societies provide conclusive evidence of the abject failure of the command approach to produce either.

  11. You reap what you saw. For far too long the empahasis has been on academic success, to the detriment of many. We have forgotten the ‘whole person’ and the adoption of a holistic approach to the development of young people, therefore, including also their mental and physical well-being. We have a government keen to test 4 year olds. Let’s just spread the stress and anxiety to ever younger children! Children spend, on average 35 hours a week, at school. learning. That’s enough. Abolish all homework for all children.

  12. Nobody would disagree that student well-being is important, but I can’t help feeling that the school is missing the point with regard to what causes mental illness. Coping with stress and pressure are parts of every day life, and this suggests that the school may not have the proper procedures on places for helping students to manage their workload efficiently.

  13. Hi,
    Just an observation the idea suggested is not to actually abolish work carried out outside of class but to change its nature. I see flipped learning is mentioned when students study the material before class. Is this not homework? The trend here is for more productive use of time both in and out of class. ThIs is something we can all agree about.

  14. One of my students who was particularly stressed was asked ‘if I could take away your stress what would I have to do’?
    The answer “no more homework”.
    Teachers are under so much pressure to deliver results and we in turn are putting too much pressure on our students. It needs to stop.

  15. Clear heads and more space to reflect, leading to creativity, fun, and the desire to learn coming from from curiousity plus the energy left to try. Given that and the widest possible choice of what to learn and try life for a pupil would be lovely, but what if teachers were afforded the same responsibility and opportunity? I think that would slow the numbers leaving (such as me)…

  16. I think we may have made an inaccurate diagnosis if we are going to single out HW as the major cause of the mental incapability of students. Ms. Jardine-Younge and others could be erring here. Is there any Scientific proof that HW is having this kind of negative impact on pupils mental health? HW is like a long standing institution in the teaching and learning process and why at this moment in time we are suddenly pinning down mental health on to HW ?
    I am not saying that mental health issues are not around, I do believe that it exists and may be rising. So many generations from so many nations over the world have been educated via HW. HW, while doing it offers hidden training; it creates independent learning, Like a sports person practises his/her skills until he/she becomes proficient, same is achieved by HW, in maths especially, it develops skills, it develops presentation skills, it develops appreciation for meeting deadlines, it develops wise time management and quite a few others. The world we are living in now is fast moving and pressurizing, if pupils are unable to handle HW how will they handle pressure at the work place? The big question I will ask Ms. Jardine-Young, If pupils are sent through High School without HW experience what will happen at University? Can they go through Uni without HW?
    The problem of mental health is coming from else where. Some pupils: are leading stressful life styles, live in stressful homes and getting inappropriate nutrition backed up by natural stress of the time and even the lightest curriculum will prove overbearing to some pupils. I will bet that if HW is removed the problem will not go away.

  17. Life is only found where there is rhythm. Rhythm is the alteration between polarities – light and dark; movement and stillness; warm and cool. All human beings – Teachers and Pupils – need to breathe between these polarities. Staying in constant mental arousal will always lead to disfunction and ill health. Teachers and pupils are breaking down in droves. Stimulating the intellect alone reduces us to machines. Curiosity and wellbeing come from space to breathe. Success is not defined by posessions, it is defined by connection, empathy, and the inner freedom to make healthy choices. Well done Cheltenham Ladies School for moving back towards heath and what matters.

  18. Hallelujah Cheltenham Ladies College!

    Homework is the biggest cause of low self esteem in the children of parents who feel pressured to please teachers by ‘supporting’ their children with their homework. They, instead, so often make their children feel adequate.

    Those parents who do what they think to be right, insist on a silent (and stressful) environment for homework. Whereas in the classroom, good teachers have a lively buzz as group working and presentation methods are developed – all essential to productive workplaces.

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