WIMMERA principals have questioned the value of homework after a parliamentary inquiry found it had little academic benefit for primary school students.
The Education and Training Committee tabled its report, The Approaches to Homework in Victorian Schools, in State Parliament on Wednesday.
The report includes findings such as homework could reduce the amount of time available to pursue other important activities and interests.
The report also recommended the Education Department consider training teachers to help them set quality homework.
Nhill College acting principal Joanna Day said it was better for children to be physically active after school than do homework.
“I’m not overly keen on too much homework as I think it’s great for children to get out of school and be active,” she said.
“Homework such as reading and times tables is beneficial – the more children read at home the better.
“But after that it is something that teachers have different views on.”
Dr Day said research showed the more reading children did at home, the better their literacy skills would be.
She said teachers needed to be aware of students’ backgrounds when setting homework.
“The homework might be to research a project at home with mum or dad, but that’s not always possible for students and teachers need to be aware of that,” she said.
Dr Day said homework was more essential in high school years.
“The curriculum becomes crowded in high school and it’s hard for teachers to get through all the things they want students to know,” she said.
“It also creates good work habits for later years, but overall I’m not in favour of too much homework.
“It is just as important to play sport and be active.”
The inquiry also suggested new teachers in Victorian schools might lack the experience to assign quality homework.
Dr Day said there were plenty of resources for new teachers.
“I don’t see that as an issue,” she said.
Warracknabeal Primary School principal Michael Moloney has been a teacher for more than 30 years.
"I would say as the students get up into the higher levels of primary school they should become accustomed to completing some homework tasks, as long as they are relevant and meaningful to what they are doing,” he said.
With younger children, he stressed the importance of developing strong literacy skills.
“The students need to practise their reading on a regular basis,” he said.
Laharum Primary School principal Jane McLean said the benefit of homework varied with different tasks.
“If it’s just busy work, then there is no benefit,” she said.
“If it is directly supporting what’s being taught in the school classroom, or on a broader scale like research into a project, then it definitely benefits.
“It also helps children who need a bit of extra support.”
Education and Training Committee chairwoman Jan Kronberg said the committee was struck by the amount of debate and widely differing views on the value of homework.
“Despite differences of opinion about the value of homework, the committee found plenty of information and the views expressed by the many submissions and witnesses have enabled the committee to make a significant contribution to what is a long-standing and heated debate in education,” she said.
“We believe these recommendations will further enhance Victorian schools’ capacity to provide their students with a world-class education and enriching the lives of students at all levels.”