The average 15-year-old pupil in the UK has 5 hours of homework each week. Generally, in countries where they get more homework, their academic performance doesn’t increase.
However, this doesn’t that homework is pointless. It can be used to consolidate a student’s understanding of the lessons they did during the day. The amount of homework generally increases with age and primary school pupils get a lot less than students studying for their GCSEs.
The 5 hours a week statistic is average for OECD countries. Chinese students get an average of 14 hours of homework each week but their PISA results are only marginally better than countries with between 3 and 6 hours of homework.
So how much time should you spend doing homework?
Homework at Primary School
Children in primary school should probably go back over what they’ve been learning during the day. Even if this is reading a passage or practising some times tables.
They really shouldn’t have more than 24 hours a week of schooling with no more than 3 hours per half-day. Generally, they’ll be in school from 9:00 until 15:00 with breaks in the morning and afternoon as well as a lunch break. However, in some cases, they might only get a couple of breaks during the day.
Once they get home, the amount of homework they do should reflect their age and level.
Younger primary school students or “infants” (Reception to Year 2) will learn to read, write, and count. While their days will be full of learning, they’ll also need to relax to aid concentration. At the end of the day, we recommend a snack and a break before they do any school work.
Usually, homework can take between 10 minutes and half an hour at this age and usually involves some reading, simple maths exercises, or a bit of writing. At 6 or 7, most pupils will need help from their parents when they go over their lessons and do their homework.
If your child is struggling at school or is tired, don’t hesitate to chat to them about school over lunch and quiz them on their time tables during bath time, for example. You’ll want them to see homework as something fun rather than a chore and private tutoring can help with this.
Juniors (Year 3 to Year 6)
Older primary school pupils still won’t get too much homework. Again, they can have a break and a snack before getting down to do their homework.
Children aged between 8 and 10 will probably only need between 20 and 40 minutes to do their homework.
Even though it’s a good idea for the parents to be there, the pupil should have some autonomy when it comes to doing their homework and the parents should only help if necessary. Of course, you can listen to them reading and correct them.
At a young age, you might want to avoid them doing homework at the weekend. We know that this isn’t always possible, but having them do homework on school days can help you organise your schedule more easily. If you don’t have the choice, allocate some time on a Saturday or Sunday to doing homework.
How Much Time Should Secondary School Pupils Spend Doing Homework
Once pupils reach secondary school, homework will take on a more important role. Going into Year 7 is a big step for a lot of pupils. They need to adapt to their new school and the idea of having several teachers instead of just one. They’ll also have different classes with different teachers.
A typical day will be slightly longer and the school may be farther away, which makes their overall day a bit longer, too. As they progress, they’ll get more choice in terms of the subjects they can study.
Year 7 will be the biggest change as they adjust to their new school. In a lot of cases with pupils coming from different primary schools, teachers will be trying to get all the pupils to the same level.
Students shouldn’t spend over 45 minutes each day on homework. They’ll also have opportunities during the day to do some of their homework.
Years 8 and 9
During Years 8 and 9, a lot of students get to make choices about some of the subjects they study, especially with foreign languages. They also get chances to try out different subjects before choosing their GCSE options at the end of Year 9.
At this age, between 45 minutes and an hour should be enough for focusing on their homework. Of course, this will depend on how well they study and how long they can concentrate.
Years 10 and 11
Year 10 is the first year of GCSE for students.
During this age, we recommend they spend an hour each day on their homework. This time will increase before exams or when they’re doing past papers.
If they still need help studying, it might be a good idea to get help from a private tutor.
Homework in Sixth Form or College
Once students have finished their GCSEs, they can move onto their A Levels. They can do this at their school if it has a sixth form or study at a college. At this age, courses aren’t about rote memory but rather an understanding of the subjects they’re studying.
Lower Sixth or AS Level
At this age, students tend to have fewer hours of lessons but more time to dedicate to study. If they’re at school, they mightn’t be free to come and go as they please.
They may have a lot of gaps in their timetable and it’s a good idea for them to use this time to study or do homework.
Ideally, they won’t want to spend more than an hour each day outside of the typical school time studying or revising. They have a lot of freedom and control over their education at this point.
If they can stay on top of everything, they mightn’t need to dedicate any time outside of school or college to study.
A Level/Upper Sixth
Again, students will have a lot of freedom when it comes to their free and it’ll mainly fall on them to be responsible. They won’t have teachers pressing them to get work done and they’ll be expected to take control of doing homework and studying.
We still recommend that they spend an hour to 90 minutes studying and doing homework and even doing a bit on the weekend, especially if they have exams coming up.
It can be useful for memory to go over the week’s classes at the weekend.
If you or your child need help with homework or schoolwork, consider getting help from one of the many talented and experienced private tutors on Superprof. There are tutors for academic support, homework help, and specific subjects all over the country and around the world.
Private tutorials are either taught face-to-face, online, or in groups and each type of tutoring comes with advantages and disadvantages so think carefully about which one is right for you and your budget before hiring a private tutor.
One-on-one tutorials are just between the student and the tutor and can be tailored to suit the student's preferred learning style. This makes these types of tutorials incredibly effective as every minute is spent working to help the student. However, they also tend to be the most expensive type of tutoring available as you'll be paying for all the extra time and effort the tutor puts into planning and adapting their lessons to the student.
As they don't have to travel to each tutorial, online tutors can afford to charge less than face-to-face tutors and they often do. While these types of tutorials mightn't be as effective for certain hands-on subjects, they're excellent for academic subjects, study skills, revision, and help with homework.
Group tutorials are an excellent choice for families on a tight budget. With several students attending each session, there won't be as many opportunities for the tutor to adapt the lessons to the individual, but the cost will be shared amongst everyone participating, which makes these tutorials cheaper per student per hour.
Remember that a lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson or hour for free and you can use these sessions to try out several different tutors before deciding on the right one for you. Once you've chosen the perfect tutor, you can start working with them directly.