Too much homework for Spanish children

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Thousands of parents in Spain are planning to go on strike against state schools over the “unacceptable” amount of homework being given to their children.

The Spanish Alliance of Parents’ Associations (CEAPA) is encouraging parents to take part in a boycott of weekend homework throughout November, with president Jose Luis Pazos claiming the excess of work is “detrimental” for children’s wellbeing.

CEAPA covers around 12,000 state schools, and the boycott is likely to affect both primary and secondary school students.

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2012 found Spanish teenagers have 6.5 hours of homework a week, compared with an average of 4.9 out of 38 countries.

Parents in Spain have long criticised the quantity of after-school work given to their children, claiming it can be too much of a burden of their mental health.

“We’ve lost a bit of common sense in this country when it comes to talking about education and we’ve got a system in which boys’ and girls’ free time has disappeared,” said Mr Pazos told radio station Onda Cero.

“Schools are passing on tasks to families that they shouldn’t be. They’ve made us into second teachers and left children in the latter stages of secondary children with up to 60 hours of schoolwork a week.”

“It starts with children from the ages of three to six doing half an hour’s homework every day. For us, that’s an unacceptable situation.”

Pupils at Spanish schools typically start work before 8am, have a long lunch break and finish around 5pm. However, many state schools are now electing to finish studies at 2pm and give children lots of homework in order to bring down costs.

In the latest OECD PISA study into educational competency from 2013, Spain came 31st in the list of countries in terms of how good their 15-year-olds are at maths and reading.

Mr Pazos argued this is because schools in Spain continue to be heavily reliant on traditional ‘rote-learning’ memorisation techniques, rather than choosing to adapt to new styles of teaching.

“What we have to teach children isn’t to memorise everything, but how to manage information, to be critical, to select what is worth it and what isn’t,” he added. “Society has changed deeply, but the environment in the classroom hasn’t.”