British parents give children less help with education than in other countries, study says

Eleanor Busby
Colombian priest Aida Soto helps her son with his homework in Bogota on March 5, 2015. Soto is one of four Latin American women priests, member of the Roman Catholic Women Priests Association: LUIS ACOSTA/Getty/AFP

British parents give their children less help with their education than mothers and fathers in most other countries - including the United States and India, according to a new global study.

Just one in 10 parents in the UK spend the equivalent of at least an hour a day assisting their child with activities that support them academically – like reading or helping with homework.

The study, which questioned more than 27,000 parents across 29 countries, found that UK parents were among those worst for spending at least seven hours a week helping their child.

India had the highest proportion of parents spending at least seven hours a week – the equivalent of at least an hour a day - helping their child at 62 per cent, followed by Vietnam (50 per cent).

In the United States, 22 per cent of parents spent this amount of time helping their child academically, along with 25 per cent in Italy.

On average, British parents spend 3.6 hours a week helping their youngster, the poll calculates.

The survey, published by global education charity the Varkey Foundation, does conclude that UK parents are among the most positive about the quality of teaching their child receives at school.

Almost nine out of 10 (87 per cent) UK parents rate the quality of teaching at their child's school as fairly or very good - the joint third highest of all countries, alongside Estonia, India and Finland.

However, the study shows that parents in the UK are divided over education standards over the last decade - with 33 per cent saying they had become worse, 28 per cent saying they had got better and 27 per cent believing they were the same.

Overall, UK parents are positive about state schools with 68 per cent saying the quality of the schools is fairly, or very good, compared to a global average across the 29 countries of 45 per cent.

But the study did find that half of British parents with a child at a state school said they would be fairly or very likely to send their child to an independent school if they could afford it.

Vikas Pota, chief executive of the Varkey Foundation, said: "It's worrying to see that British parents are spending so little time helping their child with their education - lagging behind almost every other country we surveyed.

"The fact that Indian parents are almost six times more likely to spend an hour a day helping their child with their education than British parents is sobering."

But he added: “Despite the pressure on school budgets, it is heartening to see that British parents are among the most confident in the world about the quality of teaching in their child's school, even if they are slightly less confident in the education system in the UK as a whole."

Additional reporting by PA