The school that children WANT to go to: Academy bans all homework - but pupils have to stay until 5pm for extra study time
- Pupils at the Jane Austen Academy in Norwich will do longer days at school
- When pupils go home they 'should enjoy quality family time' says head
By Anthony Bond
Published: 09:31 GMT, 5 June 2013 | Updated: 13:01 GMT, 5 June 2013
It is the scourge of schoolchildren up and down the country.
Classes can often be heard letting out a collective groan when the teacher mentions homework, ruining plans for a night watching films or playing out with friends.
However, this will not be a concern for pupils attending a pioneering new secondary school in Norfolk - because it has decided to ban all homework.
Good news: Homework will not be a concern for pupils attending a pioneering new secondary school in Norfolk - because it has decided to ban it. This picture is posed by models
Instead, the 1100 children who will attend the Jane Austen Academy in Norwich will do longer days at school.
The mixed free school for 11-18-year-olds - which will specialise in English and the humanities - is set to open in September 2014.
The school yesterday unveiled its prospective principal, Claire Heald, who said that city children would do extra study at school as part of the extended day, which could last until about 5pm.
She said: 'Rather than setting homework that pupils could go home and struggle with at home, and where there may be limited access to computers, they will do that as independent study in the day.
'We are saying that when they go home they should enjoy quality family time.
'There will not be any traditional homework - and that has been really well received by parents who respect the fact that family time will be family time.'
New approach: The 1100 students who will attend the Jane Austen Academy will do longer days at school. The school's prospective principal, Claire Heald, is pictured
But Ms Heald said the school would still expect youngsters to study at home ahead of crucial exams.
She's ready to create a new dramatic template in the UK after French president Francois Hollande called for the end of homework in primary schools last October.
The French leader insisted independent learning at school would enhance equality because kids who get help with homework from parents have a huge head start.
THE ALTERNATIVE (AND BIZARRE) RULES OF FREE SCHOOLS
Since their introduction by the Coalition, dozens of free schools have opened - with many others in the pipeline.
But they have proved controversial, with many providing alternative methods of teaching and education.
At the Tiger Primary School in Maidstone, pupils have all-singing and all-dancing curriculum.
Pupils have specialist teachers for Mandarin, music, gym, dance and games lessons.
They also have access to a school farm and ecology woodland.
Pupils at the Greenwich Free School in London spend a third more time learning than most school children.
The school day lasts from 8am to 5.30pm.
There are only 100 pupils in each year, which the school says means teachers get to know each pupil as an individual.
The exciting initiative has already sparked keen interest from other headteachers in Norfolk.
Peter Devonish, headteacher of Neatherd High School in Dereham, said: 'My initial thought is that it's really compelling.
'It sounds like a really good idea.
'Having the children on site a bit longer to consolidate their learning is a really good idea.
'The children can finish work and they can have their time with the family.'
But he warned: 'I have got two stumbling blocks.
'One is our rurality and getting children home at that time, and the other is changing staff contracts so they can be here until 5.30pm.
'If you are a free school you do not have to conform in the same way.'
Mr Devonish said they set pupils project-based homework, such as looking at an energy efficient house, which allowed them to combine independent study with working with their parents.
Craig Morrison, principal of King's Lynn Academy, agreed that the whole prickly issue of homework should be looked at.
Mr Morrison said: 'I can understand why people want to experiment with this because it is one I would not say anybody can say they have got definitively right over the years.
'And if they are starting a new school then it gives them the chance to try out new things.'
He added: 'A large problem with homework, which we have tackled, has been that not enough is done with it.
'With homework, a lot of effort can go into it, so it's about celebrating what children do rather than processing it in terms of marking it and handing it back.'
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