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Is it just me? Or are you baffled by your children’s homework too? asks LUCY CAVENDISH 

Is it just me? Or are you baffled by your children’s homework too? asks LUCY CAVENDISH

  • Study found majority of parents can’t remember what they learned at school 
  • Lucy Cavendish has O-levels, A-levels, two degrees and a master’s
  • Mother-of-four admits she can’t help her 14-year-old daughter with her GCSEs 


This is a usual scenario in my household. One or other of my four children will appear of an evening, their forehead creased in concern. They will be waving a sheet of paper around. ‘Mum,’ they’ll say. ‘Can you help me with my . . .’

This is when I shut my door and hide. For the truth is, I just can’t do it.

Despite my O-levels, A-levels, two degrees and my master’s, I cannot help them with their homework.

When they were at primary school I sailed through Maths and English. But now they are older and my 14-year-old daughter is starting her GCSE years, I can’t do a single thing.

Lucy Cavendish, who has O-levels, A-levels, two degrees and a master’s, admits that she can’t help her children with their homework (file image) 

According to a recent survey, the majority of parents can’t remember anything they’ve learned at school.

Half can’t do algebra, a third struggle with long division and adverbs remain a distant memory. It can’t just be that our poor brain cells are fading. The fact is education is done differently these days.

It’s utterly alien to parents. Division, addition and subtraction aren’t the way we used to do it. Schools mark English essays via tick-box criteria rather than them being any good.

You can’t expect parents to play ball when the old goal posts are no longer even on the pitch 

I’ve come up with wonderful (I think) theses around why Romeo falls for Juliet, but if it doesn’t hit the strict parameters of what’s allowed, it fails. Chaucer has been purged from reading lists. Shakespeare is read in a more ‘modern’ fashion.

Novels I studied such as Vanity Fair and Great Expectations have been put back in dusty libraries. There’s an unspoken expectation parents will support their child’s learning these days. But you can’t expect parents to play ball when the goal posts are no longer on the pitch.

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