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"OK so tomorrow we have swimming; Wednesday it's drama; Thursday, tennis; and Friday we have gymnastics. The weekend is pretty jammed with ballet and tap and then we're back to Monday with Tilly's tutor... hmm maybe we should schedule a play date for half term?" This was the conversation I overheard at the supermarket this week. Sound familiar?
Recent reports have revealed that 24% of all pupils were tutored in 2013 with that figure rising to 40% in London and, according to The Tutors' Association, there are up to a million people working as tutors around the country, a figure double the number of full time teachers.
With places at sought-after schools at a premium, increasing university emphasis on A* over As and a National Curriculum push for attainment at an earlier age, there's no doubt that the 'traditional' tutoring industry is booming. Holiday cram camps and tutor agencies are popping up on high streets all over the country, with some boasting polar explorers, Oxbridge dons and award winning writers amongst their 'supertutors'. Indeed, School Guide's very own Tutor Directory, created with 11+ experts Bond, sees thousands of parents logging on each week looking for help with everything from Key Stage 1 phonics to A Level Sociology.
But the tutoring landscape is changing and an increasing number of parents are hiring tutors as a way to get homework done. Forget entrance exams, it's about restoring domestic harmony and, according to the parents who shell out an average of £25 an hour to draft in reinforcements, it's a small price to pay to avoid homework stand offs and claim back quality family time.
Jayne, a working mum with two boys, explains: "By Year 6, my son's maths was getting beyond me and it took the stress and battles away, leaving us to spend more time reading or relaxing. I do feel torn. Part of me knows that helping my child with his homework is a normal part of family life but it got to the point where I would dread sitting down with him. To have this taken off my plate was a huge relief and I also saw my son's confidence boost. I'd rather cut back on meal outs or a day trip and have the peace of mind that the job's not only done but done better than I could do it myself."
Sarah hired a tutor last year to help her 12-year-old daughter with homework after a disastrous first term at secondary school. Like many of the new breed of parents hiring homework help, she's never looked back.
"I'd been toying with the idea of getting my eldest daughter a tutor for a while. It wasn't because I thought she needed extra help – she was firmly in all the top sets at school. But the 'homework hour' had begun to turn in to the ‘homework weekend’ and there were endless rows. My daughter tried homework club at school for a couple of weeks but then announced that none of her friends were going and point-blank refused to go again. In truth, neither of us knew how to get out of the anti-homework rut and so I brought in a tutor to help. She helped with everything from prioritising Maggie's homework schedule to kick-starting ideas for projects. Of course she can only get so much done with her tutor in an hour a week but it's a massive help especially with the tougher assignments."
For many, like Jayne and Sarah, a tutor has added a whole new mearning to the concept of 'home help'. But do you think it's a step too far? There were reports in one paper recently of parents going even further and employing tutors to DO their kids' homework for them.
What do you think? Would you hire a tutor to help you child with their homework?