Denise Bramhall Aussie Kids Seek Longer School Hours Interview

Denise Bramhall Aussie Kids Seek Longer School Hours Interview

Hitting the Books Is Harder than Ever

New research reveals Aussie students prefer longer school days, as parents experience difficulty in getting their children to complete homework. Almost 1 in 2 parents find homework-time a challenge.

Over 1,000 parents and 500 school aged children took part in the nationwide homework habits survey, commissioned by school learning tool, Firefly Learning. The findings show Aussie kids would prefer to clean their room, get a job and even stay at school for an hour longer each day than do homework.

Out of school interests and busy schedules could be taking priority, with the preference to do other things the reason for not completing homework (26%). Forgetting was the main excuse translated to teachers by 11 and 12 year olds, while 16 year olds said they had too much homework to complete.

Almost 30% of parents are unable to assist their children with homework due to not understanding the task at hand. But with easier access to learning resources and being on the same page as their children's teacher, this issue could be resolved.

Denise Bramhall, spokesperson for Firefly Learning says, "Modern family commitments can present a challenge for families.

From our experience active parental support is crucial to a child's learning experience, cognitive development, literacy and numeracy skills. In fact, research has shown that parental involvement in a child's schooling between 7-16 years of age is more influential than family background, size and level of parental education."

Denise believes a regular three-way dialogue between teacher-student-parent is an effective way to help support their child's development.

"Checking in regularly with your school while understanding the curriculum's teaching milestones and development aids available is a tangible way parents can support their child's education."

Established in 2009, Firefly Learning is an online school learning tool that aims to support learning, communication and collaboration. The technology operates in Australia, the UK and Singapore and is currently adopted in over 500 schools globally. For more information visit

Interview with Denise Bramhall

Question: Are you surprised that students want longer school days?

Denise Bramhall: No - a number of schools have after school homework sessions available already so there is clearly a demand for such a facility. As a parent I know that my children would prefer to get all of their work done in school. This helps them to separate the -work environment' from the -home environment' making it easier to switch off when they get home. The working day doesn't get any longer as such as the workload on the student doesn't increase, but it is easier for some students to be organised and manage their homework effectively if they have a designated time and space to complete the work in.

Question: How can parents encourage their children to complete homework?

Denise Bramhall: Homework is an ongoing task during term time and like any other regular chore it can find itself being pushed down the list of -priorities' in a child's time. One way to help is to get into a pattern of homework - setting a time and space to do the homework in. However, don't turn homework into a battleground; if you're really having problems then seek advice from your child's teachers. They have almost certainly seen it all before and will be able to help.

Question: Why is homework important to a child's development?

Denise Bramhall: Purposeful homework can have a positive impact on a child's development in a number of ways. As well as helping children to consolidate their learning, practice new ideas and extend their understanding of a subject, homework can also foster independent learning and organisation skills. However, homework shouldn't be viewed in isolation, but as part of a wider approach to teaching and learning if it is to be useful.

Question: How can parents assist their children during homework time, better?

Denise Bramhall: The ways that parents can get involved tends to change as children get older. With younger pupils, listening to them read, or helping them practise their spellings or tables for example are important in supporting the child while they develop the necessary skills for independent study. As they get older, students are far more able to work on their own and the key role here for parents is to help provide an environment that is conducive to study - reduce the distractions, have space available where the student can organise themselves and really focus on what they need to do. This has the added bonus of making it easier to complete homework quickly! Question: Why is it important that parents are involved in their children's schooling?

Denise Bramhall: It's really important that education and school is seen as something that everyone is committed to - students, teachers and parents. The message this sends to students reinforces the importance of what they are doing and helps them to understand that both their teachers and their parents are there to support them in their learning. This is born out in the statistics, which show that children in families where the parents take a positive interest in school tend to achieve better outcomes.

Question: What benefits do parents checking in with teachers have on children?

Denise Bramhall: Sometimes as parents we can feel a bit -out of the loop' when it comes to what our children are doing in school. A lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and stress on the part of both parents and students which in turn has a negative impact on the child's learning. If parents get regular updates on what their child is learning and how well they are doing it makes it much easier for everyone to work together to achieve the right outcomes. Schools where there are regular communications between school and family tends to have happier teachers, students and parents, which leads to more effective teaching and learning in the classroom.

Question: What is Firefly Learning?

Denise Bramhall: Firefly is an online learning tool that empowers teachers, students and parents to learn more together. Schools can set homework, track progress, create rich resources and engage parents. The result is teachers have more time to focus on what matters most - teaching - and students can learn in ways that work best for them.

Interview by Brooke Hunter