French parents and teachers are calling for a boycott of all homework in schools for a fortnight. They say homework is useless, tiring and increases inequalities between pupils. 

"/> French parents and teachers are calling for a boycott of all homework in schools for a fortnight. They say homework is useless, tiring and increases inequalities between pupils. 

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EDUCATION

French parents boycott ‘useless’ homework

French parents and teachers are calling for a boycott of all homework in schools for a fortnight. They say homework is useless, tiring and increases inequalities between pupils. 

“Teachers don’t realise the pressure they are putting on children,” says Jean-Jacques Hazan, president of the FCPE, the main organisation representing French parents, in an interview with daily Le Parisien

The FCPE is calling for a fortnight without homework. This is a first in France and they hope to get parents and teachers to discuss better ways to help children learn. 

Homework is banned in primary schools in France but many teachers still give their pupils exercises to do at home. Children in France spend 30 minutes to an hour in the evening doing their homework and sometimes more at the weekend. 

Parents say homework is tiring but also complain that it is not very useful. “If a child has failed to do an exercise in school, I don’t see how he’d be able to do it at home. In fact, teachers are outsourcing their work to parents,” says Hazan. 

The FCPE and the teachers’ organisation Icem say homework also exacerbates inequalities between pupils because not all parents can help their children at home. Homework can also be a source of conflict in the home. 

“Homework can lead to violent outbreaks, or tension, between parents and children, and the educational benefits are slim,” says Christophe Paris, a member of the organisation Afev, which helps pupils do their homework in poor neighbourhoods.

EDUCATION

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.

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