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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 10:07 GMT
How much homework help would you give your children?
Euan Blair - eldest son of the Prime Minister - received help with his homework after his mother Cherie asked a No 10 official to help with information for a school debate. Was she just acting like any other mother keen to help her child?

In a move likely to be envied by pupils across the land, the official in this case then decided to contact the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to see whether they could help.

Who would you chose to help with your homework? Do you give extra help to your children and provide them with information just as Mrs Blair sought to do? Was she just acting like any other mother keen to help her child?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.


Your reaction:

Surely the main object of homework is for the teacher to gauge how much the child has understood in class. If the parent does the work for the child or 'helps' too much, it is to the detriment of that child. The teacher will assume that the pupil has fully understood the work.
Rosemary, England


Cherie Blair was being highly unprofessional

Lydia, Warwickshire, England
People keep saying they would do the same as Cherie Blair if they were in her position! Nobody seems to realise that Cherie Blair was being highly unprofessional and completely unethical in requesting help from the MOD for her son and was blatantly abusing her powerful position.
Lydia, Warwickshire, England

Couldn't Cherie or Tony help their little darling themselves?? Or are they really so stupid???
Bill, UK

As a sixth form student myself, I see nothing wrong with any parent - be it Cherie Blair or anyone else - being concerned enough to seek further information in order to help their child. If it helps Euan and his classmates to learn more about the world in which we live, then fair play to them.
Anthony Evershed, Beds, UK


Both schools actively encourage the involvement of parents

John L, UK
Those who say "leave children to do homework by themselves" clearly do not have children in the UK educational system. I have one boy at primary school, and one at secondary school. Both schools actively encourage the involvement of parents in all aspects of students' homework. The aim, after all, is for our children to learn as much as possible from the tasks they are set. I would go so far as to say that any parent who does not provide as much assistance as possible during homework is failing in their responsibility to their children.
John L, UK

Would you consider it an unfair advantage if, one day, I help my daughter with her French homework? I would find it very silly not to help her!
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

One of the reasons such projects are set are that students learn how to research, to find the sources and make the requests in order to get the information. So, while Cherie Blair was being helpful, she was also preventing Euan getting the full benefit from the assignment.
Meg, UK


Perhaps J.K. Rowling will be popping by number 10 to help with his English homework

Will Faulkner, Hale, Cheshire, UK
How utterly ridiculous! Normal schoolchildren do not have these 'privileges' so simply being the son of the prime minister should not entitle a child to be allowed to use these bodies to assist with homework. Whatever next? Perhaps J.K. Rowling will be popping by number 10 to help with his English homework or maybe Gordon Brown will be giving the children extra maths tuition (perish the thought!).
Will Faulkner, Hale, Cheshire, UK

What parent would not pull strings to help their children and why should the Blairs be any different? All the civil servant did was to provide some information, which they probably would have done for anyone who e-mailed or called them.
Steve Chiswell, UK

I don't personally see anything wrong with it. It is simply using people with whom you have connections in order to give yourself an advantage over others which anyone does if they have any sense.
Simon Moore, UK


Why not help with homework?

Julia, Australia
Why not help with homework? We help our sons so that they learn how to find information from a variety of sources. There's nothing elitist about it. It's simply lending a hand. Homework is a necessary part of their academic learning. Why not give a hand if you have the time and patience?
Julia, Australia

As long as the official did it for free in their spare time and wasn't wasting tax payers' money then it's fine.
Andrew C, England

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that the child gets as much out of homework as possible. This was exactly what the Blairs did. They did not give their son the answer, which would have meant he learned nothing. Instead they obtained public information for him to learn from and use. This information is in the public domain and available to any parent. Getting someone to do his homework would have been wrong but not giving a lad the chance to learn as much as possible.
Richard, UK


When I once asked my father to help me with my homework, he replied, "Sure - if you help me with my tax return"

Robert del Valle, USA
When I once asked my father to help me with my homework, he replied, "Sure - if you help me with my tax return." Needless to say I learned to fend on my own.
Robert del Valle, USA

The only times that my parents have helped me with homework/coursework is to check through the final article to see if it sounds right. I am dyslexic and I may miss words like they, has etc.
Helen, UK

Just as long as they did not actually do Euan's homework themselves then I don't see what all the fuss is about. In a way, it's the same as searching the Internet for the information you require.
MarkS, Canada (Ex UK)

This is really a bit of a non-story. There is no proper parent in this country that would not use every means at their disposal to help their child with their homework. Part of the secret of success in life is, not necessarily knowing all the answers, but knowing where to find them.
Colin Mackay, UK

It's wrong to think that the education system provides enough support to get your children a good education. Parents must play an active role in their children's education. Any self-respecting parent would have done exactly the same in Mrs Blair's position. Good for her.
Shaun Ridler, UK


Far from being condemned Cherie Blair should be commended for setting a great example of a caring, engaged parent

Donna Rossignol, UK
Far from being condemned Cherie Blair should be commended for setting a great example of a caring, engaged parent doing all she can to support her child's education within the home. Doubtless the school also benefited from the contribution Euan was able to make as a result.
Donna Rossignol, UK

I don't think Cherie using her influence to get Euan those A-grades is so bad per se, but isn't the point of homework to see how kids work unaided? I never got any help with mine...
Wendy, UK

Parental involvement with homework should be minimal. Every now and then a child may need a little help getting through a sticky algebra problem, and conversing about the literary merits of a current reading assignment may be helpful and provide a little insight, but for the most part, homework should be done by the student. As much as we want to see our children succeed, there are some things they have to handle themselves.
Faye, USA


As well as being a bonding exercise for us, it keeps us in touch with what they are learning at school

Jack Burge, UK
I help my kids with homework, as much as I can that is. My two girls are nine and eight respectively and already get more homework than I was given as a teenager. If they have a problem, my wife or I will work through it with them step by step, being careful not to give the answer, as that defeats the object of it. As well as being a bonding exercise for us, it keeps us in touch with what they are learning at school. And, last but not least, it also stimulates my own mind about things that I had long forgotten.
Jack Burge, UK

Everyone is bound to say that it's a disgusting thing to do, taking advantage of being elitist but we all know that if any of these people were in Cherie Blair's position they would almost certainly do the same thing. I don't see anything wrong with it. It is simply using people with whom you have connections in order to give yourself an advantage over others, which anyone does if they have any sense.
Simon Moore, UK


Hardly beating up old ladies, running down the health service or freezing Afghan children to death, is it?

Rhys Jaggar, England
Give the lad a break. You've already paraded him through the media for the heinous crime of getting drunk like any normal 16 year-old after getting his 'O' Levels...now he's just using his network to educate himself. Hardly beating up old ladies, running down the health service or freezing Afghan children to death, is it? Poor lad has to have Tony and Cherie as parents...no need for the rest of us to give him a hard time too!
Rhys Jaggar, England

The Blair children live in a very nice big house in London. They are surrounded by security and the comings and goings of people all the time. This could hardly be classed as normal. The fact that Cherie helped Euan with his homework just goes to show how an attempt at normality is being made, good for her. If my own daughter asked for information on a subject and I knew someone I trusted who could help I'd ask too. Give them a break, they are just normal kids in an abnormally public and visible address.
Pete, Wales,UK


I very much doubt the civil servants involved spent much time collating the information for Euan, or gave him any insider information

Al, UK
I don't think that there has been any wrongdoing here at all. Children will often ask their parents for some help getting information for a project, whatever line of work they are in. So long as they write the assignment themselves, quoting their sources, that should not be a problem and I would say it is a very ordinary occurrence. I very much doubt that the civil servants involved either spent much time collating the information for Euan, or gave him any insider information. Therefore he could have easily written to the departments in question asking for some information and would have probably received the same. But why write a letter when your Mum can ask in passing?
Al, UK


It's called citizenship

Julie, UK
I work for a local authority in an environmental field and from time to time receive requests from students seeking help. I'm only too happy to give it -they don't have to be the son of the Prime Minister. It doesn't take many minutes, enables the student to have a better understanding of important issues and may encourage them to take an interest further, perhaps in their own career. At a time when teachers insist that they are pushed to the limits, why should the rest of us not take a more proactive role with the next generation's education? It's called citizenship.
Julie, UK


The only question here is why all the other children and parents didn't think of doing exactly the same thing

Alex Banks, UK, living in Ireland
I don't get it, what's the fuss about? When I was at school, I had various projects from time to time, so I contacted (amongst others) the Vietnamese Embassy, the Home Office, British Airways, Friends of the Earth and the AA, all of which couldn't stop themselves falling over to help me. What's wrong with contacting the Ministry of Defence for help with a debate about the politics surrounding nuclear weapons? The only question here is why all the other children and parents didn't think of doing exactly the same thing.
Alex Banks, UK, living in Ireland

See also:

03 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Number 10 help with Euan homework
10 Nov 01 | Mike Baker
Your concerns over coursework
02 Nov 01 | Mike Baker
Parents 'need advice over coursework'
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