At St. Mark's, we aim to promote the British Values to ensure the children leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.
The key values are:
Democracy - making decisions together
Rule of law - understand that rules matter
Individual Liberty - freedom for all
Mutual Respect - treat others as you want to be treated
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith
The children are encouraged to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance and understand that even though people may hold different views about what is 'right' and 'wrong', all people living in England are subject to its laws.
Dudley Schools Citizenship Debate 2018
Dudley Council House - Friday 26th January
St Mark's debating team 2018 - Ruby, Alice, Alfie (substitute for Harveer) and Pema
Miss Price (teacher) reports " For the fourth year, we have attended this special event and each year we are amazed by the standard of our children's debating skills and their confidence in standing up to speak in such a formal environment. This year was no different as our little stars blew us away! although it is only a friendly competition between schools and the taking part is more important, we were pleased to be bringing a winning team home with us today! Well done to all schools involved, and to our debaters: we are proud of you! "
'This House believes that homework should be banned for primary school children'
St Mark's debating team 2018 with Councillor Colin Elcock (himself a former pupil of St Mark's CE Primary School!)
Chair, honourable members opposite, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ruby and I am joined today by my peers: Pema, Alfie and Alice. This house proposes the motion that homework should be banned for Primary School children.
The idea of abolishing homework for children may sound radical but my house strongly believes that a radical approach in education is needed in the UK for children to prosper and flourish. And this may be just the thing to begin with.
When discussing this title, my friends and I immediately thought of many reasons why we agree with this idea: Homework has a negative impact on family time, children’s mental health, our social lives and also the lives of our teachers. So why should we stick with a habit of a lifetime when this habit has run its course?
Children find the burden of homework upsetting and damaging to their relationships with parents, especially children in year 6 with SAT’s on the horizon. My year group are currently worried and feeling pressured; not only do we have to focus on the impending doom of a week of tests, but we also have to battle with endless hours at home competing practise SAT’s questions. It feels like no matter where we turn in life, the pressure to succeed is slapping us in the face like a cold, wet fish.
Being on the brink of entering Secondary school, where we will be pounded with homework in every lesson that we sit in, wouldn’t it be fair to let us live our last few months of freedom in peace?
It is a proven fact that children of all ages learn through play. Children’s play allows them to explore, identify, negotiate, take risks and create meaning. The intellectual and cognitive benefits of playing have been well documented. Children who engage in quality play experiences are more likely to have well-developed memory skills, language development, and are able to regulate their behaviour, leading to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning according to Psychologist Bodrova – so WHY force children to sit at a table completing never-ending sheets of paper. Let us be free with games and the outdoors and let us develop every aspect of our minds.
Another point which is close to my heart is children with learning difficulties. These children find learning an everyday battle within the eduational setting, let alone forcing them to continue this in the safe environment of their own homes. I carried out a survey in my school and 9 out of 10 children said that they have cried at some point whilst completing their homework. CRIED. Over a sheet of paper. That makes me feel so sad. This unnecessary pressure can create feelings of anxiety, nervousness, fear, worry and can lead them to being completely disengaged in education. Basically, it has the total opposite effect of the main purpose of homework – to learn.
I am not advocating that children should not practise their skills to make sure that they are secure. But I am saying that us children need a break. Leave school for education and home for play and pleasure.
Chair, honourable members opposite, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate the oppositions point of view and I understand that homework may make an impact on our education, but how much of an impact? Well, according to a study carried out by Oxford University students, only a 5% increase on achievement and even that evidence cannot be completely trustworthy as it is difficult to pinpoint if it is homework that makes the impact or other factors such as: good teaching, attendance, peer support or parental engagement.
Homework is an unwelcome visitor in the home after a long, hard day at school where we have completed six hours of Maths, English and Topic – why should we be made to sit at a table for another few hours just to complete sheets that repeat what we have learnt in school?
Teachers may think that homework teaches us organisational skills, how to work independently and help us develop good working habits but surprisingly it doesn’t as most pupils tend to rush their homework and put very little effort into it.
Furthermore, most parents tend to assist their children with their homework, so who is being assessed – us children or our parents? In some homes, parents cannot or will not help their children with their homework so how does that make children feel when they are compared by the teacher with their friends who have had help? I’d take a guess that this would destroy a person’s confidence and make them feel inferior to their class mates. This is not fair!
On the flip side, do teachers actually enjoy setting and marking homework? In a poll on the Guardian website, 56% of teachers complained that marking homework took up far too much of their time and even they commented that they did not know if they were marking their pupils’ work or the work of their parents. Is it right to put our teachers through this when they also have families of their own? I think not!
3. Harveer (substituted by Alfie)
Chair, honourable members opposite, ladies and gentlemen. I respect the views of the opposition, however I would like to discuss three points that I believe to be paramount in this discussion.
Firstly, children spend six hours studying at school: 6 long hours of steadfast concentration. So how can our brains cope with an extra hour or two after school, concentrating on completing homework? Mindfulness is such a hot topic at the moment in schools across the country, but continuing to complete homework after school contradicts this. Please think about our wellbeing! The Independent newspaper in 2017 stated that some cultures have normalised long periods of studying for primary age children, but there is no evidence to show this has clear academic benefits. Studies have actually linked excessive homework to sleep disruption and stress.
Additionally, exercise and sleep is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, especially for us children – homework consumes the time we could be spending outdoors kicking a ball with our friends or riding our bikes, as well as impinging on our 8-10 hours of sleep at night. Instead we are stuck under a mountain of homework. How can we be alert and fresh for school on a morning if the previous evening was spent calculating fractions or identifying past progressive tenses in a piece of text?
Finally, my last point is family. Family means everything to me, but with my parents working long hours and myself having to complete mundane homework, our quality family time is severely affected.
So I urge all of you to consider my points carefully when voting in this debate – make your vote the right one!
Chair, honourable members opposite, ladies and gentlemen. I fully take on board the valid points that the opposition make, but I still strongly feel that homework should be eradicated from schools.
As a year 6 pupil, I know only too well the stresses and strains that homework puts onto children like me. We are currently preparing to take our SAT’s tests so school is a pressure cooker for us at the moment – should teachers really expect us to go back home on an evening and complete an extra few hours of grammar and reasoning on top of the amount we are completing during the school hours?
To conclude, myself and my debating team have raised several important points throughout the course of this debate:
The unnecessary stress that homework induces
The negative effect that this can have on our mental health
The lack of sleep that homework can cause
The negative impact on time spent with our families
The unnecessary burden and frustration it can create for children of a lower ability
We thank you for your time this afternoon and we hope that our valid points have made you realise how a little thing like homework can have a major negative impact on children’s health and well-being.