You won’t catch me being fined by Sir Michael Wilshaw

I don’t do my children’s homework for them – I just make sure they do it

Share

Schoolboys (and girls) creeping to school with satchels full of homework. Shakespeare knew about it, and boy do our children know about it. And now here’s that Sir Michael Wilshaw bending his cane and telling parents that we should be fined if we don’t ensure our offspring get it done. Every night.

Sir Michael, the chief inspector of schools, is on the warpath about “bad parents” – especially, he says, white, working-class ones – who can’t be bothered to read to their children, or turn up for their parents’ evenings, or make them do their homework.

Well, Sir Michael, I do have a bit of a love/hate thing with homework going on. I hate it when my children don’t do it, and I love doing it for them. Indeed, my son once achieved the highest ever grade for a Year 7 Project when he handed in what I have to say was a superb piece of work on Andy Warhol. A folder devoted to the artist, complete with timeline, famous sayings, poems, drawings, postcards, even a reference to David Bowie’s seminal song on the artist from his album Hunky Dory. What a joy it was to see that A++ mark on the bottom, in red ink. But then, as arts correspondent of the BBC at the time, I deserved nothing less.

But Sir Michael, I have seen the error of my ways. I no longer do my children’s homework for them. Do I insist they do it, however? You bet I do. Nag nag nag. That’s me. I will never get the Wilshaw penalty. “Have you done your homework yet? No, you can’t watch the Simpsons/How I Met Your Mother, not until you have done your homework.” My latest ruse is bribery with Panini Brazil World Cup stickers. Two if you eat your supper, four if you do your homework. Needs must, Sir Michael.

I think it is my duty to be a right pain in the backside about homework to my lot, two of whom are at secondary school and thus have backpacks full of the stuff, and two who are at primary school (and thus have hardly any, bar the odd spelling test, but you wait).

It’s not just because they will get detentions if homework is not completed. Getting your children to do homework is part of the parenting deal. Got to be. It’s quite easy to be bright and switched on in class, where promptings from the teacher or peers can help a child along. It’s a bit tougher, however, to carry on the subject at home alone.

But that’s the only way you are going to learn. Hours and hours of doing and redoing work at your desk, or the kitchen table, or the sitting room floor (I don’t really care where it takes place, as long as the TV is off). There is a lot to learn, but learn it they must, otherwise your sprog is never going to soar over the plentiful hurdles which the modern-day British child is obliged to face during his or her 13-year school stint.

And then there’s university, and the rest. The discipline of sitting down and doing homework is a valuable lesson, since it never really goes away. It is an unfashionable truth, but if you do your homework the night before, the day job goes a lot easier.

Knowing this, and knowing that the default position of the average British child is one that usually suffers a strong gravitational pull towards Facebook or the iPod, parents or carers simply need to put up with the homework parrot on their shoulder, squawking “Have you done it yet?” every weekday night of the year. Otherwise, we will have Sir Michael on our backs, squawking in turn at us and hitting us where it hurts, namely our pockets. And we don’t want that, class of Mum and Dad, do we?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before