Principals, teachers, parents and students should be “working from the same page” when it comes to how much homework is the right amount, the city’s school board says.

Geoff Cainen, program director for Halifax regional school board, said yesterday new guidelines posted online earlier this month by the Education Department should ensure more consistency and less variance in how much homework is assigned by teachers. However, he also pointed out they aren’t policy – they’re simply suggestions to encourage success both inside and outside of classrooms.

“It’s recognizing that both families and students are exceptionally busy outside of school time and trying to take that into consideration when we plan activities for them,” Cainen said of why the Halifax area school board has helped develop them over the past year and a half.


Education Department spokesman Peter McLaughlin said school boards have traditionally set their own policies, with no consistency across the province. The new guidelines, available for various grade levels and posted to the department’s website at, are intended to serve as benchmarks, he said.

They suggest, for example, that 20 to 30 minutes a day is an appropriate maximum for students in Grade 4, while two hours of homework often works for Grade 11 and 12 students.

“We rely on the boards and schools and the teachers themselves to make judgment calls on the level of homework,” McLaughlin said, adding the idea is for it to be done in moderation.

“These (guidelines), we think, will be helpful.”

But McLaughlin said he expects there to be an ongoing debate about homework.

Cainen agreed that “In any given year, issues about homework come up, whether it’s too little, too much – there are arguments on both sides of that."

Halifax Regional School Board is still working on how it’s going to distribute the guidelines to schools and families, he said, which will be an added cost on top of an already tight budget.
- with files from The Cape Breton Post

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