It is too simplistic to say that homework is an essential part of schooling, and that all pupils are expected to do homework daily during school terms. If we regard the word ‘homework’ as covering all the academic assignments that boys are asked to work on outside the timetabled lessons, then indeed there will be quite a lot of that – but rather little of it will be given in one lesson and expected back in the next. More usual, especially in the senior grades, will be that the final product should be delivered in a week’s time, and often over an even longer time-span. Not only is this educationally appropriate, but it also means that homework in general:

  • gives an opportunity for boys to learn about the importance of making time for work that is not simply between working hours;
  • provides a structure within which boys can learn to take responsibility for their own learning, and learn to work alone;
  • provides a structure within which boys can develop strategies for solving their problems and doing the ‘graft’ that underlies all successful study;
  • helps to create an atmosphere in which boys see their academic studies as a way of life rather than as an obligation to be fulfilled only between certain hours;
  • helps to generate habits in boys, and an awareness of the open-ended nature of learning and work, which stands them in good stead in their further studies and indeed in their working lives.

Of course this longer-term approach means that a boy might well find on a particular evening that he has nothing that needs to be completed by the next day, which can easily become established in his mind, or expressed to others, as having no homework for that night.