“There was a significant boost to progress for pupils who reported they completed homework on three, four or five evenings a week, relative to those who reported they never completed homework. The more homework done, the greater the impact on their progress.” (Strand 2008) He goes onto point out that “homework was one of the two, out of the eight, variables with by far the largest impact on attainment; academic self-concept was the other one.” …. “White I pupils were one of the two ethnic groups who reported doing the least amount of homework.” (2008)
Wiggins et al (2009) pointed out there are clear associations between parental occupation and educational level and children reading for pleasure. In relation to homework, they found that there are disparities in setting and doing of such work as well as doing extra work. For example, 23% children of unskilled parents reported that homework was not set compared to only 12% for children of professional parents; 49% of the former did all the work set compared to 61% of the latter. In addition, 9% of the former did extra work compared to 13% of the latter. “This suggests that the children of less educated parents are much more likely to be either in classes or schools that do not set much homework (almost half as much). Overall it shows that children whose parents are from higher socioeconomic groups …are more likely to complete all of their homework.. “
It has been recognised by the DCSF that children from deprived backgrounds may find it harder than their peers to complete their homework (2009b). “This can be due to lack of space for study; lack of educational resources in the home such as books, encyclopaedias and other reference material; lack of internet access and parents inability to help with the homework tasks”. Elsewhere, it has been recognised that “parents want to help their children succeed, but do not necessarily know the best way to do this” (DCSF 2009a)
Jonathan Milne pointed out in his TES article (1.2. 2008): “homework falls victim to the economic divide”. This was based on a survey by Kirkland-Rowell which gathered views of more than 75,000 parents whose children attended either a school in the most deprived 20 per cent of neighbourhoods, or one in the 20 per cent of most prosperous neighbourhoods. It showed that on average, pupils in the wealthier areas did 5.66 hours a week of homework, while those in poor areas did 4.35 hours. The gap was most pronounced at Year 11 – the GCSE year – when the better- off pupils did two hours more than those from poorer backgrounds. Those extra two hours added up to 78 hours a year, equivalent to three 25-hour school weeks. In both rich and poor areas, girls did at least an hour more homework than the boys in their classes.
In another article in the TES on homework, (3 July, 2009), it was pointed out that many of the homework tasks were assumed to need resources of time, space and basic materials such as textbooks, pens, pencils and paper which are often not available in poor homes.
Lindy Barclay, an experienced practitioner with White working class young people has also drawn attention to the life outside school of such children. In an article in the TES (9 October, 2009) she drew attention to what goes on during the summer holidays for many of the working class children.
“During the summer, some of the teenagers on our estate live a kind of feral existence. They roam wild and, in some instances, lawless. No rules about being in at night, no restrictions on who they hang around with, no prohibitions on drinking and smoking. They are generally nice kids, but live with few boundaries”.
She does mention the few lucky ones whose time is taken up with hobbies “- fishing, skateboarding, swapping computer games, playing football every day in the park –“ as well as the small “minority whose parents are able to afford to take them on holiday, about 8 per cent according to a recent survey of our students”.
Barclay then draws out the implications of this. “Those students who experience a very different life outside of school are often the most challenging”. Demie and Lewis (2010) point out the life many working class young people lead out of school: “The children are out on the streets in their uniforms after school. The mothers don’t do anything with their children, they don’t go anywhere as a family. There is no family structure.”
Wiggins et al (2009) point out that poorer children are also less likely to: Borrow books from library other than school; Be asked at home almost every day about what their time at school; Attend daytime clubs once a week; Attend after-school clubs once a week; Read for pleasure or Do maths and English homework.