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"The alternative to homework shouldn't be no homework at all."

A primary school’s decision to scrap its homework policy is a step the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Allambie Heights Public School in Sydney’s northern suburbs stopped sending students home with daily activities at the beginning of 2017, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Kids are instead encouraged (but not required) to submit research-orientated projects every semester or term, depending on their grade.

The projects are an excellent initiative. But if the current parenting zeitgeist is to embrace a child’s individual strengths, then surely their after school activities should foster that uniqueness.

The discipline required to study music would surely be a more positive form of education.. (Source: iStock.)

There have been calls from parents on social media to embrace substitute tasks that still promote a child's growth.

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For example, instead of forcing the young athlete, the young writer and the young musician to complete a research project as homework, why not encourage them to simply document their extra curricular work?

A musical child could aim to complete 30 minutes of practice, a reader could aim for 30 pages, a writer could compose a certain number of words, and an athlete could train.

News of Allambie Heights' policy has driven hundreds of parents onto social media to debate the benefits of after-school revision.

One of the main lines of argument, as one parent on Facebook said, was that children in primary school do enough work during school hours.

Want to know what completing school is like nowadays? Year 12 student Zoe Mallet shares the highs and lows of her final year. Article continues after podcast.

"Kids need time to be kids and not to be worrying whether they have time to finish their homework when they get home after they have done class work in school," they said.

Other parents have argued that homework instils a necessary sense of responsibility in young children.

"Good luck to these kids when or if they ever make it to University or TAFE! They won't know what hit them when they actually have to do work outside of school hours," one parent said.

Meanwhile, some suggested "homework" should serve as a loose encouragement for other pursuits, such as reading.

"I think 30 minutes of reading before bed is plenty for kids, and there should be more emphasis on this," one parent said.

The idea of no homework isn't new. Parenting expert, Dr Justin Coulson, has been documenting his success (and shortcomings) with the method for years.

Dr Justin Coulson. (Source: Facebook.)
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Dr Coulson praised the school for taking such a bold move with its educational direction.

"It’s really nice to see a school principal acting independently, based on the wishes of the parents and in alignment with research," he said.

Dr Coulson believed time spent performing extracurricular activities boosted a child's development far more than a standard homework task.

"If we want our kids to succeed in life, they need some extra curricular activities," he said.

"I think having kids involved in some sort of sport or art or music is shown again and again it helps their learning and their development – significantly more than homework."

However, he also believed schools shouldn't be able to dictate what these activities were.

Other studies have shown how reading boosts children to perform academically. (Source: iStock.)

"I don’t think the school should be in a position to dictate what kids do after school. It's not appropriate," he said.

Dr Coulson believed the best way a parent could assist their child was through reading.

"Reading to your children is probably the most valuable thing we can do to help them have a love of learning and real thirst for knowledge," he said.

"When they’re big enough to you, get them to read to you."

Allambie Heights Public School's principal, Angela Helsloot, told the Sydney Morning Herald nearly all of the students were completing the non-mandatory projects. This was said to be a great improvement over former homework completion rates.

Whether the solution is different work or no work at all, recent findings suggest the Australian education system needs assistance.

Short story writing or even completing a journal would be a more recreational way of boosting academic performance. (Source: iStock.)

One global comparison found that Australian students weren't just lagging behind their international equivalents, they were getting worse.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a survey that tests and compares the skills of 15-year-old students in 72 countries. Results in 2015 found that Australian scores in maths, reading and science had declined since 2000.

And although academic thinking has struggled to pinpoint the exact cause of this decline, one theory suggested it could be a lack of work ethic.

Researcher John Jerrim used the academic excellence of children from an East Asian background as a comparison point.

Jerrim suggested the academic success of East Asian children was largely a mixture of high-quality schooling and exposure to a culture that instils a "harder work ethic".

Keen to know more about modern parenting? Listen to the latest episode of our parenting podcast This Glorious Mess. (Post continues after audio.)

It seems almost counter-intuitive that we're encouraging young children to do less when successful equivalents seem able to do more.

Scrapping homework is the kind of shake-up our education system needs. But there needs to be something better in its place.

Allambie Heights Public School's principal, Angela Helsloot, was contacted by Mamamia, but declined to comment further about the policy.

Where do you stand on homework? What would you rather see assigned to students?

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