Homework debate: Northern Ireland parents ‘need to support teachers’

A teacher and mother of three from NI has said it is vital that parents invest time and effort in helping their children with their homework.

Michelle Connolly’s comments come after a debate was sparked on social media in the UK by comedian Rob Delaney, complaining that his seven-year-old was getting too much homework.

Homework tells both parents and teachers how a child is progressing, said one Northern Ireland teacher

Homework tells both parents and teachers how a child is progressing, said one Northern Ireland teacher

He received the backing of ex-footballer Gary Lineker who labelled homework “pointless”. Presenter Piers Morgan hit back saying lazy parents were to blame for falling educational standards.

Mrs Connolly said: “As a parent, your children’s homework does require time and effort on your part, which can jar with people’s busy schedules.

“From a teacher’s perspective, the reason we give homework is to support the learning that goes on at school and to show us what children have or haven’t understood and how we can move forward.”

She added: “For parents, homework is a nice insight into what your child is doing, the topics they’re working on, the level they’re at.

Michelle Connolly said homework can flag up to parents areas in which their child might be struggling

Michelle Connolly said homework can flag up to parents areas in which their child might be struggling

“If you’re helping your child do their homework and you can see they aren’t able to do something, that’s a wee red flag for you to give a bit of extra support in that area.

“Teachers have got 30-odd children in their class, and they’re trying their best to teach every single child individually. Support from parents is very, very important.”

Mrs Connolly, who has two boys – six and eight – and an 18-month-old daughter, taught as a primary school teacher for 15 years in NI, England, Egypt and Dubai.

She said: “In Egypt I taught at a British school with a lot of different nationalities. You’d see the cultural differences.

“The Egyptian, Korean and Chinese parents would always want more homework. My experience with British and Irish parents would be that they’d maybe have moaned about homework, but not to the extent they asked for me not to set any.”

Now working as a sub teacher, she has set up a series of YouTube tutorials as ‘Learning Mole’ to act as a homework aid for parents who want to be able to understand aspects of their children’s learning like phonics and mental maths.