British state schools are churning out children who do not know right from wrong, a headmaster of a leading independent school will say today. Richard Walden, head of the Independent Schools Association, believes state schools spend too much time on academic studies and not enough on their moral education.
Walden will tell the association’s annual conference today that Independent Schools teach children emotional intelligence and moral understanding.
The Times reports that Mr Walden, 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 is also concerned that schools have become too focused on league tables, which are supposed to measure the performance of each institution. However, there are concerns that they do not provide a full picture about the quality of the school.
Walden said: “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.
“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.
“These are not measurable 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.”
He will claim that privately educated children do better than state school children because they have received a “value-rich education”, not that they are from privileged background.
Mr Walden’s comments are likely to add to the growing debate in Britain about moral standards in schools. There is widespread concern that under the last Labour government schools ceased to worry about ensuring young people had a well-rounded education, and instead concentrated solely on targets.
League tables were originally introduced in schools in 1992 by John Major’s Conservative government. They were designed to root out poor teachers, and headteachers that did not run schools properly. They are based on ‘added value’, they take a child’s raw intelligence and predict how well the child should do. If they do better than their prediction the school is rated well, otherwise they are rated badly.
Mr Walden’s comments also came amidst a great deal of soul searching in the British education system following the stabbing of Ann Maguire at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds last month. It is alleged that her attacker was a pupil, raising serious questions about the school environment.