Politics

Scots primary school pupils should have homework scrapped, say Greens

Primary schools should stop giving pupils homework and focus on classroom teaching, the Scottish Greens have said.

The party will this week launch its Holyrood election manifesto with a bold call to reduce demands on younger children outside of school so they can spend more time socialising as lockdown eases.

The Greens argue that many pupils have been left isolated from their friends as a result of repeated school closures over the last year, with their social development suffering as a result.

The party cites research by education experts at the University of Stirling which suggests homework can worsen inequality as it disadvantages children whose home environment makes completing it difficult.

Ross Greer, the Greens’ education spokesman, told the Record: “Too often we see homework issued because that’s the way it’s always been, so that’s the way we expect it to be today. In reality, research has found that this often isn’t helping children’s learning and can in fact be deeply unhelpful.

“After a year full of remote working from home, the last thing children and families need once schools reopen is to bring even more work home. We know from research that this creates a negative association with school and learning from a young age.”

He added: “Moving on from a year of restrictions on meeting friends and playing together, we need to ensure that children are free to go outdoors and socialise, rather than stuck inside completing homework which isn’t actually helping them.

“This is no criticism of overworked teachers, who are regularly pressured to issue homework which only creates an additional workload burden for them. Ending homework in primary schools benefits everyone, pupil, family and teacher.”

The Scottish Greens have previously called for the age when children start primary school to be raised to seven.

Infants would instead attend a “creative play” Nordic-style kindergarten rather than formal classes.

Campaigners believe the system – similar to the approach taken in Finland and Norway – would improve wellbeing and attainment in later years.

It follows a report written for the Scottish Greens last year by professor Mark Priestley and Dr Kylie Bradfield.

The Scottish Government said in February that Scotland’s curriculum was already rooted in play for the early years, with a strong focus on ensuring all children benefit from rich outdoor learning experiences.

Primary schools reopened on a full-time basis last month while some high schools will return from today as the Easter holidays finish, with others resuming next week.

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