UK Head Says Heavy Tutoring Undermines Natural Development

A leading UK headmistress has warned that parents who subject their children to regular, evening and weekend tutoring can have a detrimental effect on their natural development.

Alexia Bracewell, head of the Longacre School, believes that parents who arrange evening and weekend lessons in addition to standard school work and some extracurricular activities are running the risk of undermining their children’s natural development by “taking joy out of childhood,” writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.

Parents of three year-olds at the Longacre School in Surrey often ask Bracewell about what additional help is needed to make sure children gain top Sats results or pass senior school entry exams.

But Bracewell believes these parents are in danger of “setting their children up to fail” if they push them too hard.

She said:

“The joy of childhood is fast disappearing with parents eagerly inflicting one activity after another in a desperate bid to ensure their child succeeds.

“Parents’ ambition and intervention in their child’s education is undoubtedly hampering a pupil’s enjoyment and ability to develop at an individual rate… Of course, you must be sympathetic to parents but the pressure needs to be controlled.

“I regularly see the inescapable problem of competitive parents.

“It is a natural instinct to want the best for your child, but the claws come out in some parents when their child fails to get the lead role in the school play, does not get selected for the 1st XI or fails to win a particular prize.”

A culture of tutoring is becoming increasingly popular for parents across the country, looking to get their children a place at a sought-after grammar school. To access these schools, students need to pass an 11-plus Common Entrance exam, and their chances of getting a place at these schools is determined by how well they do.

However, Mrs. Bracewell has warned parents that exam cramming is “ultimately counterproductive”.

“If a child requires this level of support to gain entry to a school, how will they endure the level of expectation going forwards?” she said.

“Parents are inadvertently setting their children up to fail unless they are prepared to invest financially in a lifetime of tutoring, which of course does not consider the implications for the child and the increasing peer pressure of adolescence.”

However, William Stadlen, founder of Holland Park Tuition, London, disagrees with Bracewell, saying that her view overlooks the “basic benefits” of being tutored by professional agencies.

He thinks parents should “enlist the support of a well-reputed organization as referred by your child’s school and apply tuition only where absolutely necessary and ensure it is targeted at specific issues highlighted by your son or daughter’s teacher”.

“A tutor should enhance a child’s appreciation of a subject, build her confidence and set her free to enjoy the experience of school once short term problems have been addressed,” he said.

02 1, 2012
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