State schools are creating amoral children because they spend more time on academic studies than learning right from wrong, a leading independent school headmaster will say today.
The pressure to get excellent results is distracting teachers from imparting good values to pupils, according to Richard Walden, chairman of the Independent Schools Association.
Private schools, by contrast, turn out young people with emotional intelligence and moral understanding, he is due to tell the association’s annual conference in Warwickshire .
Mr Walden, who is headmaster of Castle House School, Shropshire, will say: “Schools are turning out too many amoral children because teachers cannot find the time to teach the difference between right and wrong.”
He will add that state school teachers are too focused on league tables.
“It seems that the only results that matter are those which have created added value in terms of raising a pupil’s statistical level from one stage to the next, and parents are increasingly buying into this notion.
“This focus on league tables and attainment levels distracts teachers and effectively disables them from providing children with a more rounded and enriching education, one that will give them the moral compass they need for life.”
Mr Walden is expected to suggest that private schools devote much of their time to extra-curricular activities and learning good values, as well as developing pupils’ characters.
“The very nature of our schools, with their respect for discipline and academic seriousness, sport and culture, citizenship and community, service, environmental awareness, spiritual life and personal responsibility, sends out into the world young people with emotional intelligence, developed moral understanding and a willingness to make a contribution to society,” he will say.
“These are not measureable by statistics or on inspectors’ tick charts, but they are the qualities that employers want and the world as a whole needs.
“It takes time, but if we hold our nerve as educators and as schools — and that may mean resisting the demands of parents who want quick-fix results, or the pressures of external statistical grading systems, not to mention the difficult financial situations that we can face — if we hold our nerve, we will continue to turn out well-rounded individuals who make a difference to society, as we have for many years.”
Privately educated children do well not because they are from elitist or privileged backgrounds, he insists, but because they have received a “value-rich education, provided with love”.
“We cannot measure the growth of maturity in a young person grade by grade. It is not a linear progression anyway,” he will add.
The association was founded in 1879 and its president is the Conservative peer Lord Lexden, formerly Alistair Cooke, the lecturer and senior political adviser. It represents the interests of more than 300 schools, many of them prep schools.
Mr Walden’s comments come days after Ray McGovern, chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association, said boarding schools provided highly motivated, superbly qualified students to the best departments of the best universities.
In a speech to the association’s annual conference he said: “Universities and employers increasingly look for more than top academic grades. They look for social skills and confidence, independence and resilience, character and perseverance.”