Pushy parents stress out children, Eton head says

May 18, 2015 by

There has been a rise in the number of parents “living their lives through their ambitions for their children”, the head teacher of Eton says.

There has been a rise in the number of parents “living their lives through their ambitions for their children”, the head teacher of Eton has said.

Tony Little, who is leaving the school, said most parents had been “supportive” but there were now “more pressures on young people than ever before”.

And if his pupils failed to conform to parents’ “outcome template”, it could “add to the stresses” in their life.

Eton employs a full-time psychologist to promote “good mental health”.

“For some it feels like a bereavement when something goes unexpectedly wrong, and others recalibrate and pretend things just don’t happen as they have,” Mr Little told the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference’s Insight magazine.

Sarah Welch, who will chair the Independent Schools Association, said the parents at Gosfield School, in Essex, where she is principal, were worried about the amount of stress their children were under from exams, social networking and peer pressure.

“Children don’t learn unless they are happy,” she said.

More independent schools were employing counsellors and using techniques such as mindfulness, she said.

“Pastoral care is a focus for us, and we are looking a lot more at how we support our young people at school.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Little also said he was “exasperated” by England’s exam system and that learning subjects in “silos” prevented pupils from thinking laterally.

“It’s like an egg timer,” he said.

“There is is a wealth of experience at the top, then it all has to get squeezed through this narrow bottleneck of exams and pushed out the other side.”

He said he was not against “rigour” or exams, but the way they were designed.

“We are controlled by university admissions, with no-one wanting to prejudice students’ chances – we are locked in to the system,” he said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is essential that students develop a deep understanding of subjects, and our new GCSE and A-level courses recognise that learning is wider than preparing pupils for exams.”

Mr Little also raised concerns about teacher training, saying: “We have made a big mess of teacher training in this country.

“I would like to see teaching as a highly trained profession, but not as it is now.”

He said at Eton he had preferred to take on unqualified teachers and then train them in the post.

Source: Pushy parents stress out children, Eton head says – BBC News

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