Homework: How much are school students doing? CensusAtSchool finds out

Three-quarters of students aged 6 to 12 say they did homework the night before they completed a nationwide survey – and on average, that extra work took 53 minutes. A total of 69% of teenage students say they did homework, and that on average, they spent 1 hour 13 minutes doing it.

This insight has emerged from the educational project CensusAtSchool, which so far has involved more than 19,000 students from 600 schools answering questions about their lives. For the first time this year, CensusAtSchool asked students whether they had done homework the night before filling in the online survey, and how long they spent on it.

“The numbers are just a snapshot, but they are food for thought in the lively debate around homework,” says CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe. “It seems that everyone has an opinion on how much homework children should do – and more recently, we’ve seen some education experts suggesting that children are, perhaps, better off playing after school rather than studying.”

The survey also found that 74% of teen girls said they did homework the night before – but just 61% of teen boys. Some students said they did two or more hours of homework – 7% of all 6 to 12-year-olds and 15% of all 13 to 18-year-olds.


Students who did homework the night before CensusAtSchool:
All, aged 6-12: 77%
All, aged 13-18: 69%

Average time on homework the night before CensusAtSchool:
All, aged 6-12: 53 mins
All aged 13-18: 1 hour 13 mins

Boys aged 6 to 12: 53 mins
Girls aged 6 to 12: 54 mins

Boys aged 13 to 18: 1 hour 5 mins
Girls aged 13 to 18: 1 hour 17 mins

Source: CensusAtSchool

Students were also asked to name their favourite singers or bands. Anyone with a daughter will not be at all surprised to hear that the girls’ favourite group is English-Irish boy band One Direction, formed out of the 2010 series of singing competition The X Factor in the United Kingdom. Next on the list is Taylor Swift, followed by Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Beyonce. For boys, the top of the list is American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars, followed by Eminem, Macklemore, Imagine Dragons, and Coldplay.

CensusAtSchool is a biennial online project that brings statistics to life in the classroom. Supervised by teachers, students aged between 10 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) answer 32 questions about their lives, many of them involving practical activities such as weighing and measuring, then become ‘data detectives’ as they analyse the results in class. This year, more than 1408 teachers have run CAS in their classrooms.

CensusAtSchool, now in its sixth edition, is a collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, Japan and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made, but the majority reflect New Zealand students’ interests.

CensusAtSchool co-director Professor Chris Wild, of the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland, adds, “The survey produces data about kids, from kids, for kids, to enrich their learning about how to collect, explore and analyse data. But the project goes much further, by providing support to teachers.”

  • Anon

    Being a year 10 student, I find this hard to read… Last night I spent four hours on homework. I never have much time for socializing or sports and am struggling with depression and sleep deprivation. My friends have given up on homework and have gotten to the point that they don’t care about detention because they’re just so sick of it. I have looked through much research (cutting sleeping and homework time) and most, if not all says that less homework benefits students, and that it’s only to ‘compete’ with other nations. In Finland, students have an average of 30 minutes of homework PER WEEK. Grades in Finland average much higher than those in Asia and America. But here in New Zealand, we think pushing students to limits like this is acceptable and will enhance our learning. IT DOES NOT. If we got less homework, students would have more time to actually study and not just “fun” assignments which I can assure you ARE NOT. Not only will students have a better life, but this will solve problems such as obesity because kids will have more time to go outside and exercise Mental health issues, because students can be social and step out of the house and be with friends to keep company and not just sit inside boiling over with emotions while frustrating over whatever the number of neutrons there are in a zirconium atom. Students won’t run into problems such as eye deterioration, from looking at a screen and textbooks all day and half the night. FYI my eye sight has decreased from prescription of -2.5 to -4 with one year and I don’t even come from a family of bad eye genes. So yay Homework totally isn’t going to deteriorate my health at all.