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About Becta

Becta leads the national drive to inspire and lead the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning.


83% of parents struggle to support their children with homework

New report exposes the homework challenges that leave parents frustrated and children confused.

  • Over half of children are confused by their parents when they try to help with school work
  • 81% of parents welcome guidance on how to support their child's learning better
  • Becta encourages more schools to use technology effectively to help parents support their child's learning at home

The majority of parents frequently struggle to support their child's learning outside the classroom which leaves them feeling frustrated and their child unsupported, according to a new report commissioned by Becta, to support its Next Generation Learning campaign.

In a study of 2000 parents and 2000 nine to 13 year olds released today, it has become apparent that confusion, frustration and embarrassment amongst both parents and pupils can sometimes result in parents being reluctant to get involved, and some children losing confidence with their homework.

The "I'm stuck - can you help me?" report commissioned by Becta, the government agency for technology in education, suggests there is a desire from parents to become more involved in their child's education with the majority (81%) calling for more guidance and advice on how best to support their children's learning outside of the classroom.

Simple technologies like school websites and learning platforms can aid parents in making homework hell a thing of the past, providing parents with timely information which allows them to keep up to date with school learning and reinforce the work done in the classroom, at home. However 84% of parents revealed that currently their child's school offered little or no resource to help support their child's out of school learning.

Becta is campaigning for more schools to engage better with parents using technology, helping to equip parents with the information they need to effectively support their child's learning at home and support the work of teachers in school. The full report with hints and tips on how parents can extend their child's learning beyond the classroom, as well as case studies from pioneering schools who have excelled in extending learning beyond the classroom is available to download at www.nextgenerationlearning.org.uk.

Parental pressures and the changing face of learning

"Mum, Dad, I'm stuck - can you help me with my homework?" is a familiar phrase amongst parents with 84% stating that their children ask for homework advice at least once a week.

For the vast majority of parents (83%), this common request has proved challenging as they find themselves unable to help because do not understand what their child is learning or have forgotten the topic since their own school days.

The 'we did it differently in my day' effect is a common problem as more than half of children questioned (58%) said their parents often confuse them when trying to help because they use outdated methods to explain homework, contradicting advice they receive from their teachers in class.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of parents admitted they frequently feel unable to support their child with their education at home. Dads experience the most problems as more than one in three (35%) admit to frequently finding it difficult to engage and support their children with their school work.

The core subjects of Maths and Science top the list as the most difficult for parents, according to 37% and 27% of parents respectively. However the gender divide is also evident in this area, just under half of mums (49%) identified Maths as the subject they found most difficult to help their children with compared to just 22% of dads. In comparison, one in three (33%) dads say English is the subject they find the toughest, whereas only one in ten (10%) of mums find English a problem.

Parents' inability to help their children is having a profound emotional effect. Nearly a third of parents (30%) acknowledged they felt frustrated for not remembering things from the schooldays and 19% felt embarrassed and shown up by their child. Revealingly, more than a third (35%) of parents expressed a desire to know exactly how the teacher was teaching the topic, so they could replicate their methods at home.

Confused children

Although it is vital that children learn to work independently outside school, support at home can reinforce the invaluable work being done in class. As parents struggle to know the best way to help their children with their schoolwork, so children often end up questioning their own ability:

  • More than one in three (37%) children admitted they were sometimes unable to complete their homework because there was no one to help them
  • Over a third (38%) said that this lack of help meant they took 30 minutes or longer on their homework than expected
  • If they can't complete their homework, 36% of children feel frustrated and want to give up completely, 29% feel embarrassed and 27% say it makes them feel like they are no good at the subject

Becta's Next Generation Learning campaign is urging schools to exploit the technology they already have to engage and support parents as they help their children with their school work out of the classroom. Improved communication between parents and schools allows children to feel supported in their learning both at home and at school and supports the work of teachers.

Anson Primary School in Brent was recently awarded an ICT Excellence award for the pioneering work it has done to extend learning beyond the classroom. Headmaster Jeff Smith, comments:

"Parents want to take an active role in their children's education and the school works hard to make the most of this valuable relationship.; However, it is essential that there is a consistency in teaching styles and techniques. Anson offers training sessions for parents on subjects such as Maths so that they can be informed of the ways that we teach different processes. Each parent is then empowered to support their child at home.

"Our learning platform provides links, materials and tutorials for the child and parent to work through together. There is no doubt that helping parents to support their children has had a significant impact upon learning outcomes as well as developing even stronger links between the school, parent and child."

Niel McLean, Executive Director of Becta, said: 

"Becta believes that when used effectively both in schools and at home, technology can be extremely beneficial to a child's education. Schools benefit from proactive involvement from parents and if children feel they are getting the right support from the schools and families, this has a positive effect on their grades.

"Many schools are already using technology in innovative yet practical ways to advise parents on how best to support children's education at home and are reaping the rewards as children's performance improves at school. We'd encourage any parent wanting to find out more about how technology could help them support their children outside the classroom to visit www.nextgenerationlearning.org.uk and start talking to their child's school about the technology available to them."

Notes to editors

The Government has just published homework packs for parents. The resources are free and are available online for parents to download on Direct.gov: www.direct.gov.uk/homeworksupport

About Next Generation Learning

The Next Generation Learning campaign will enable you to take charge and use technology to its full potential - if you're a parent, it lets you get fully involved in your child's education; if you're a learner, it lets you learn how, when and where you want; and if you're an employer, it helps you train your workforce efficiently and effectively.

Contact details

Contact Heidi Jutton
Email Heidi.jutton@redconsultancy.com
Organisation Red Consultancy
Contact Sophie Jackson
Email Sophie.jackson@redconsultancy.com
Organisation Red Consultancy

Printer friendly printer friendly version of this page Published: 23 March 2010