Guide: Choosing a School on Homework Policy

The question of whether primary schools should issue compulsory homework continues to be open to debate among educators and parents alike. We looked into the Dubai primary schools with a strong stance on this issue to help parents to identify the schools and clarify their thinking on this contentious issue.
Guide: Choosing a School on Homework Policy
By Susan Roberts
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Always a topic of polarising opinions among educators and parents alike, the question of whether primary schools should issue compulsory homework continues to be open to debate. 

Those in the pro-homework camp reference the importance of developing skills in independent learning and self-discipline from a young age, the opportunities homework can provide in involving parents in their child's learning, and the extended learning that can be gained. On the other side of the spectrum, the anti-homework camp cite the risk of creating avoidable conflict at home (as well as between student and teacher), and the potential negative impact on wellbeing if they experience more pressure than they are equipped to handle.

Clearly homework should be a significant factor for parents selecting a school for their child, with so much potentially at stake. We looked into the Dubai primary schools with a strong stance on this issue to enable parents to help parents clarify their thinking as to which side of the debate they fall, and to start the process of identifying those schools most aligned with their view on this contentious issue.

The No Homework Schools

Horizon English School

Horizon English School is a long-standing English National Curriculum primary school situated in the Jumeirah/Al Safa area of Dubai. The school has been rated 'Outstanding' by KHDA.

The School’s Approach:

At Horizon English School, a deliberate no-homework policy is followed across all year groups. Instead of setting compulsory work for children to complete out of school hours, we recommend that parents prioritise the activities that support their children’s holistic development.”

Rationale:

“The approach we take affords families with the flexibility to focus on what is suitable and manageable for them. Students are with us, on average, between 6-9 hours per day. Sending students home with heavy workloads can lead to stress, tiredness, disengagement and anxiety. As a school that has long been passionate about students’ wellbeing, we want all of our children to have the time outside of school to develop life-long hobbies that they can enjoy as they move into adult life so they can flourish and spend time doing the things they love.

Ranches Primary School

Ranches Primary School is an English National Curriculum primary school located in the popular residential community, Arabian Ranches, in Dubai. The school has been rated 'Very Good' by KHDA.

The School’s Approach:

“At Ranches Primary School, we have an optional home learning policy rather than issuing compulsory homework tasks.”

Rationale:

“We embrace our responsibility as ‘guardians of childhood’ and while our teachers provide age-appropriate activities to complement school learning, we are firm believers that, particularly in their primary years, home time is family time. After what is already a demanding school week, the added pressure of mandatory homework or tutoring can expose children to levels of pressure that they may not be emotionally ready for.”

GEMS Founders School Dubai

GEMS Founders Dubai review update

Part of the large GEMS Education group, GEMS Founders School Dubai is a large English National Curriculum primary and secondary school, situated in the Al Barsha area of Dubai. The school has been rated 'Good' by KHDA.

The School’s Approach:

“At GEMS Founders School, we advocate for a home learning as opposed to homework policy. This provides opportunities for enriched learning outside of school hours, should children and parents choose, without the assignment of compulsory tasks with deadlines."

Rationale:

"We aim to extend learning by supporting children to find a passion which they then actively look to develop beyond the school walls. By focusing on instilling a love for learning within our community, we find that children want to extend their learning rather than feeling forced to do so. We are conscious of the vast amount of evidence that shows formal homework can lead to conflicts between children and their teachers as well as at home with parents. By avoiding setting deadlines or structured assignments, we hope to alleviate this issue.”

The Arcadia School

The Arcadia School

The Arcadia School is an English National Curriculum primary and (since 2020) secondary school, located in the Jumeirah Village Triangle residential area of Dubai. The primary school has been rated 'Good' by the KHDA.

The School’s Approach:

We believe that home time is family time. To make this possible, we not only have a longer school day but have also built the timetable in a way that includes a allocated time for Year 1 - Year 6 students to revisit and practice key learning concepts independently, as part of a group or alongside an adult."

Rationale:

"We understand that homework is often a cause for friction between parents and their children at home. Removal of this additional stressor and pressure for our working parents is gratefully received and as a result, makes evenings a pleasant experience for all involved."

The Homework Positive Schools

Nord Anglia International School Dubai

Nord Anglia Dubai

Nord Anglia International School Dubai, part of the Nord Anglia Education Group, is  primary and secondary school offering the National Curriculum of England and provides the option of joining an  A-Level or IB Diploma programme for post-16 students. The school is located in the Al Barsha area of Dubai.

The School’s Approach:

"We believe that homework can support children to become independent learners and can contribute to building up resilience. We also recognise that homework must be age and level appropriate; too much homework, or homework that is over-challenging, can create avoidable frustrations. We work hard to ensure that children develop positive feelings about their abilities and well-considered homework tasks should support rather than hinder this."

Rationale:

“When we talk about homework, we refer to anything children do outside the normal school day that contributes to their learning. This can encompass a whole variety of activities instigated by teachers and parents/carers to support the children's learning journey. Homework can be an opportunity for children to dive deeper into subject areas that they are really interested in, further extending their knowledge, as well as developing their skills in independent learning."

Brighton College Dubai

Brighton College Dubai review

Brighton College Dubai is an English National Curriculum school, located in the Barsha South area. It follows the UK public school internal organisation of Pre-Prep (Foundation Stage), Prep School (Years 1-6) and Senior School (Years 7 to 13).  

The School’s Approach:

"At Brighton College, we call homework Prep, short for ‘Preparation’. Prep tasks are considered an essential part of the learning process. The nature of the particular work will vary within age phases, from subject to subject and from task to task, but there will be a variety of activities to enhance and extend the learning that has taken place during the week."

Rationale:

"Prep is designed to reinforce and consolidate classroom skills as well as develop pupils as independent learners with a sense of self-discipline. These tasks provide an invaluable opportunity for parents to be involved in their child's learning, and be exposed to the content and presentation quality of the prep, which should be of the highest possible standard. Prep is never ‘busy work’; we are always mindful of children’s entitlement to a family life and a rich childhood, which is enhanced, not obstructed, by the tasks we send home."

Emirates International School Jumeirah

Approaching its 30th year since opening, Emirates International School Jumeirah can truly be considered the original IB school in Dubai's, being the first the offer the IB Diploma programme. The school is located in the Umm Suqeim 3 area of Dubai and has a sister school in the Meadows. KHDA has rated Emirates International School Jumeirah  'Good'.

The School’s Approach:

"At Emirates International School, we approach learning carried out at home a little differently. In the primary years, we focus primarily on reading tasks, and have children use choice boards (a variety of hands-on/critical thinking/creative activities all linked to a learning concept) in order to give the child agency to make decisions on their learning at home."

Rationale:

"Research shows us that traditional styles of homework, especially in primary schools, have a negligible impact on student learning outcomes, while reading as home learning has the largest impact on student learning. The benefits of reading as homework move beyond the academic; reading homework that involves reading to and with other family members create connections and an association for the child between reading and moments of enjoyment. By also using choice boards at home, we see a development of critical thinking as well as supporting children to develop routine and responsibility."

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