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Poll: Do you agree with the school that will not set any homework?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 June 2013

Claire Heald will be principal of the new Jane Austen college in Norwich.
Photo: Bill Smith

Claire Heald will be principal of the new Jane Austen college in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

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A new 1,100-student school set to open in Norwich city centre next year will not set its students any homework, its newly-appointed principal has revealed.

Claire Heald, who has been chosen to lead the Jane Austen College free school, said the policy has been welcomed by parents, and would allow family time to be family time.

Ms Heald, who is currently vice principal for raising achievement at the Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey, said students would instead do independent study at the school as part of the extended school day, with staff on hand and school facilities available for use.

She said: “Rather than setting homework that students could go home and struggle with at home, and where there may be limited access to computers, they will do that as independent study in the day. We are saying when they go home, that is quality family time.

“There will not be traditional homework, and that has been really well received by parents who respect the fact that family time will be family time.”

However, she added the school would still expect students to study at home ahead of exams.

There are international precedents for the idea, and last October French president Francois Hollande called for the end of homework in French primary schools.

He argued that independent learning at school would increase equality, because currently students who receive help with homework from parents are at an advantage.

The Jane Austen College will specialise in English and the humanities, and Ms Heald said it is looking at a number of potential sites in or near Norwich city centre.

The 34-year-old trained at the University of East Anglia, and has taught in Norfolk schools for 11 years.

The college, which received the government go ahead last month, will be non-selective, and Ms Heald said that although it will not have a catchment area, she expects most students will come from the city.

She said: “Ultimately, it is about creating an outstanding school, and something that goes beyond that. We want to create something extraordinary.

“It is driven by the specialism with high standards of reading and writing, but it’s also about very high academic standards, but combined with really high support and extra-curricular activities. It’s not just about examinations, but it’s about getting the best for the students.”

She said there will be an emphasis on grammar and communication skills across all subjects, and the school is in talks with national arts and cultural bodies.

The school will be part of the Inspiration Trust group of schools, and have a joint sixth form with the trust’s Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, which will specialise in science and maths and is due to open this September.

Ms Heald added that the school will hold information events and consultations with parents in the coming months.

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