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Dread being back at school because of all the homework?

Well that’s just the mums and dads!

A new survey has revealed how frightened parents are of the words: “Can you help with my homework?”

Those who don’t run for cover tend to dive online for the answers – even though you can’t always count on search engines to provide the right answers, and teachers are ever watchful for heavily-cribbed work.

And if you think homework terror only starts at GCSE level think again, for even primary school parents get pre-homework nerves – and wait for the tell-tale ticks even more anxiously than their offspring.

Ask Rachel Goldsbrough, mum of Holly, who turned eight this week, a pupil at Norbreck Primary School.

Holly shines in maths, while her school pal Niamh Gillaspy, seven, is good at history, and watching out for her little sister Megan, six.

Favourite teacher for the two older girls: Mrs Fitzpatrick – who’s “just got married”. Both love their school – particularly since a makoever remodelled its frontage.

Their mums Rachel and Jo Gillaspy admit that an assignment on the Romans got the better of them, even after some online research. “We were really floored by the way the question was worded,” Jo recalls. “That one really worried me – I just flunked it,” Rachel adds.

Holly reckons it’s a better policy to keep the maths to herself and ask mum to help out with the other stuff.

“She’s, well, quiiiiiite good,” she grudgingly concedes, all elongated vowels and expressive shrugs.

“But I think she’s realllly nice because she’s just given me a mobile phone for my birthday.”

What did the Romans ever do for us? Straight roads and baths, for starters. It’s left to mums to provide mobile phones – and a bit of a hand with the ‘orrible histories.

Jo and Rachel reckon the kids today have it much easier than they did, thanks to online research, via the internet, and other aids. “I used to have to go the library and get books out,” Rachel adds.

“The big thing is not to rely totally on the internet but encourage the girls to think for themselves too,” adds Jo. “At the end of the day it’s their homework, not ours, but it’s nice to help out. When you can.”

Local dad, Richard Annersley, of South Shore, feels the same. It takes Richard, and his boys, Luke and Jamie Molyneux, seven and five, half an hour to walk to school in South Shore daily. “It keeps them and me healthy,” Richard adds.

Jamie doesn’t get much in the way of homework, he says, just “a bit of colouring”.

But Luke regularly asks his mum Jemma for help. “It’s nice. My mum and dad sit at each side of me and help me with it. I like maths and literacy. Mum would make a good teacher, dad would make a better football teacher.” Both are Blackpool FC fans, and Luke’s had a stint as mascot. “I was with Charlie Adam and I had my picture taken with Ian Holloway,” he says thrilled. “Up the Pool!”

Richard reckons things will get tougher as the boys grow older. “Right now homework’s fun. Luke gets just the right amount, and he’s pretty good at settling down to get on with it.”

Would the family ever seek out the help of an online super swot, or rent-a-teacher round the clock?

“No. The idea is you do it yourself,” says Richard.

Yet a new online educational service has started since research, commissioned for Educating Together, revealed nearly two thirds of the UK’s parents need help with homework on such basics as maths (65 per cent), English (25 per cent) and science (11 per cent) from primary school age up.

Although confidence of parents in teaching staff remains high, many feel ill-equipped to learn more about their child’s potential, fearing educational resources in schools are fully stretched. Dads tend to opt for instant self-help via the internet, downloaded at time to suit them, while mums do more legwork or talk to someone in confidence.

Lorrae Jaderberg and Katie Krais, with 40 years’ teaching experience between them, developed interactive educational support website (www.educatingtogether.co.uk ) as a one-shop advice shop for parents seeking help with the National Curriculum and social and behavioural issues.

Lorrae adds: “It’s easy accessible and affordable – costing less than a chocolate bar at 30p per day – staffed by professional teaching staff with vast experience in all matters relating to a child’s educational well-being.”

However, Blackpool fortune teller Sarah Petulengro, who home educated her children, reckons: “I’d rather stick with the daily chocolate bar!”

n www.educatingtogether.co.uk

jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette.co.uk