One of the challenges of teaching is to help children mature and, in doing so, to take responsibility for their actions.
Another challenge is to get parents to realise that their child can be held accountable.
A natural response is for children to knowingly get up to all kinds of mischief, relying (if at all the possibility of getting caught even crosses their minds) on the power of an apology to get them out of any consequences or punishment. If that fails, they call - naturally - on their parents to get them out of trouble.
I have taught children who have educated their parents very well. These adults believe their child is incapable of doing wrong. Not only that, but if it is proven that the child has committed some heinous act, out comes the excuse: 'He's only a child.'
Yet a colleague reminded me yesterday that 10 years old (8 years in Scotland) is the age of criminal responsibility in England. In other words, the age at which a child can be held LEGALLY - not just morally - responsible for his or her actions.
Hmm. This does put the homework excuses in a new light.