Mothers pick up almost all home teaching burden during lockdown in UK

H S Rao

London, May 6 (PTI) Mothers are picking up almost all the home teaching burden during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the UK with just 11.8 per cent of fathers taking the lead on helping their children keep up to speed, according to a survey.

Hundreds of parents of primary school-aged children were surveyed by leading education resources and lesson plan experts PlanBee.

PlanBee’s Oli Ryan, a former primary school teacher, said: ‘We know that not all families are willing or able to help their children with home learning, but we were amazed to find that there was such a huge gender disparity in terms of who was taking up the teaching mantle.' 'The vast majority of primary school workforce are women, but we still find it surprising that when it comes to home teaching Dads appear to be doing so little. If it’s a sign that teaching young children is considered to be 'women’s work', it’s pretty alarming,' he said.

And parents – the vast majority, women – are allocating significant parts of their day to home schooling, with over a quarter (27.7 per cent) spending more than four hours a day on it.

Fitting in home schooling with other work and other commitments was the top challenge for parents, with over a third (35.29) per cent citing it. Keeping their children engaged with learning was second biggest bugbear, at 31.09 per cent, the survey report said.

And only 11 per cent said they were loving home-schooling their children.

Nearly 40 per cent of the respondents are primary school teachers as well as parents. And home-schooling is having a big impact on parents’ perception of teaching, with nearly one-third (33.6 per cent) saying it had altered their attitude.

One respondent remarked: 'Trying to get children engaged to learn is very hard! I know it’s a challenging time, but my four-year-old struggles to engage if he doesn’t like the subject and I can see how that would translate in the classroom. Hats off to all teachers!' A teacher-parent said that home-schooling is quite different from work: 'I am a teacher but it’s different when trying to teach your own.' And for teacher-parents, the challenges were particularly marked: 'I now have to teach the children in my class remotely as well as home school my own child. I respect myself and my colleagues a lot more.' Another said: 'Although I work in nurseries and I’m qualified as a teaching assistant, I don’t think I realised just how much work (and patience) goes into teaching.' And some felt that home-schooling was an ambition too far and that the emotional state of their children was more important: 'Some need to realise the situation that some are in with just trying to maintain mental well-being without the constant barrage from schools for replicated school days.' Although there was wide respect for the work of classroom teachers, not all parents believed that schools’ management of home learning was up to scratch, and there were complaints that there had been scant thought about the practicalities of the school work to be done at home.

One parent said: 'I'm actually pretty annoyed with the school - the work sent home is unrealistic, with no thought as to how this is supposed to work. We've been given the work with literally hours’ notice, so no prep time at all, and in spite of the fact we're delivering it.' Britain, the world's second worst-hit country after the US with more than 32,000 coronavirus deaths, imposed strict stay-at-home orders in late March.

The government ordered the initial three-week lockdown on March 23. It was extended for another three weeks in mid-April. PTI HSR PMS PMS