Left-wingers in the City of Hallstahammar in central Sweden have begun an investigation into whether to ban homework in the city’s schools. The research began after a suggestion by the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), who believe that students should learn everything they need during school hours.
Christina Aspenryd, chairman of the city’s children and education board, told the TT news agency. “We think it’s an interesting idea, and one that should be investigated further to see if it’s possible for Hallstahammar to become the first homework-free municipality in Sweden.”
Jan Björklund the Swedish Minister for Education was sceptical, claiming homework was not an issue for city politicians to decide. Mr Björklund said: “If this proposal is passed, I will take initiative to change school laws so that cities will not be able to butt in and affect this kind of pedagogical decision.”
It is unclear whether the City Council will include scientific studies into the benefits of homework in their report or whether it will focus on other factors. In the past some left-wing teaching unions have asked for reductions in homework to lighten the work burden on their teachers.
Other campaigners against homework claim that children with more intelligent parents are given an unfair advantage because they get more help at home. Whatever the justification for abolishing homework, it is clear the move would fly in the face of research, which all shows children’s examination results and future careers are enhanced by homework.
A 15-year study by the University of Oxford showed that homework improved results in Maths, English and Science.
Pam Sammons, a professor of education at Oxford University, said: “What we’re not saying is that everyone should do large amounts, but if we could shift some of those who spend no time or half an hour into [doing] one to two hours – one of the reasons private schools’ results are better is that there’s more expectation of homework.”
Longer homework tasks are often cited as the reason why children in the Far East get much better grades then those in the West.