School children and parents pleaded with the Minister for Education Norma Foley to step in and introduce a homework ban.
In letters to the minister, kids wrote about how they were being forced to give up hobbies because they were given so much work to do after school.
The correspondence followed comments by President Michael D Higgins in January that a ban on homework should be considered.
In one letter, a school child wrote about how seven hours of school each day was “plenty of education” and that more work on top was unnecessary.
“I do not ask for homework to be completely banned but for it to be reduced to a certain limit. Otherwise, if there is a constant build-up of homework daily, it can cause stress and even a lack of exercise which will affect a person’s well-being.”
Another said they felt homework was a “waste of time” and that a ban should be introduced.
They wrote: “Kids should be doing more creative things with their time after school. Many kids have had to stop doing hobbies they have because of it.
“It is a burden to parents, kids, and teachers [and] so for the above reasons, I think you should BAN HOMEWORK!”
Homework annoys teachers
One hand-written letter, decorated with a Minnie Mouse bow, said homework was “annoying for teachers and pupils”.
“I play soccer and love writing stories, but because of homework, I have no time for doing these things. For teachers, it gives them more copies to correct and they have to go through the trouble of deciding what [homework] to give.”
A secondary school student said that if “sleeping isn’t for school” then “work isn’t for home”.
They explained how they did between one and two hours of homework every evening after school and sometimes more.
“When I would finish, there would be barely any time for me to relax before I had to go to bed to get enough sleep to get up in the morning,” said their letter.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, our president Michael D Higgins also thinks that homework should be banned so if you don’t want to listen to me, listen to our President.”
Another suggested there could at least be a compromise so that students would not be given homework for over the weekend.
“[This would relieve] students of mental stress,” they said.
One young student said they were left with no time to help their parents, or to learn how to cook or do other activities around the house.
They said: “We all do activities like swimming, dance, and all other sports. It’s hard work and it’s stressful and it’s unfair.”
A single parent also wrote in to explain how one of their children was getting two hours of written homework every day.
They said: “We need time to teach them life skills such as sewing, cooking, how to work the washing machine, change their own bed sheets and personal care.
“These teachings are very hard for parents with zero [time] left in the evenings. There is no time for them to spend with siblings and parents because they are so tired.”
In responses, the Department of Education told the letter writers that homework policy was not within its powers.
In emails, they said: “The Department does not issue direct guidelines relating to homework being given in schools. It is a matter for each school, at local level, to arrive at its own homework policy.
“In keeping with good practice, the process of drafting a homework policy should involve consultation with teachers, parents, and students.
“However, the Department does acknowledge that homework can play an important part in helping pupils prepare for forthcoming class work and in reinforcing work already covered during class time.”