Some children in reception classes are doing about 20 minutes each night, double the amount recommended by the Government. Others are doing scarcely any.
And while some 11-year-olds sit at their books in the evening for more than two hours a week, a few are getting away with less than half an hour. In secondary schools, most are doing more than 10 hours a week but a few make do with five hours.
The findings are based on a survey of 227 primary and 141 secondary schools in the autumn term last year. Inspectors have complained for years about big differences in the amount and quality of homework. On the evidence of the new survey, homework appears to have become more common in primary schools, probably since the Government began to insist on its importance.
Labour committed itself to homework guidelines while it was in opposition after research from the National Foundation for Educational Research revealed only half of primary school pupils did any.
Yesterday's report saysthree-quarters of the primary schools surveyed now have written homework policies, most devised in the past few years. The survey suggests that in most primary schools, these policies are broadly in line with government guidelines.
Older secondary school pupils appear to be spending less time each week than the Government advises: the average is 10-and-a-half hours rather than 12-and-a-half.
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