It sounds like another typical anecdote from Britain's lazy schooling culture, the kind of thing that would feature in a re-issue of Melanie Phillips' All Must Have Prizes: a southwest London school has curbed the amount of homework it doles out to students, because the poor, hard-of-thinking kiddiewinks might be "put off learning". Oh, the shame!
Kingston-based Tiffin boy's school, where this Londonista actually spent an unhappy five years, says that pupils should have more time for their own interests - y'know, important vocational skills like playing tinny ringtones on the bus and being too scared to talk to girls. The school is concerned that, with minds polluted by rote-based homework, the next generation will lose the lust for life-long learning that every government and its pet think tank harp on about.
But hold on one sec - according to Head Teacher Sean Heslop, the new rules limit homework to forty minutes per night. Previously students were being set work lasting "up to four hours". Four hours of the stuff! And it was hardly worthwhile exercise - "mechanistic" and "repetitive" was how Heslop described some of the existing chores. A less than fond memory in this writer's mind of being forced to draw the entire London Underground map (in colour) onto an A4 sheet, for no apparent purpose other than the vicarious enjoyment of a trainspotting Geography teacher, certainly supports Heslop's description.
The school's in good company on this issue: research suggests too much homework can prove detrimental to a student's development, and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers recently advised schools to scale back the amount set.
As for parents concerned that their child will fall back or fail exams as a result: this Londonista completed nary a shred of homework in his Tiffins tenure, flunked most of his GCSEs, yet somehow found
fame fortune er, found his feet at least, at one of London's more ubiquitous blogs. That has to count for something.
There, there. No need to cry. I'm sure lil' Timmy will still be a success.