Middle-class parents need to accept that some children are just too thick for private school

Middle-class parents need to accept that some children are just too thick for private school, by Harry Mount.

[T]hen there are the evening phone calls – when pushy parents ring up and ask her why young Caroline did so badly in her exams.

What my friend can never say is: “I’m afraid Caroline’s just a bit of a thicko.” That’s not the answer the parents are paying £25,000 a year to hear. …

25 years ago, when privately-educated children failed, their parents accepted that it was their children’s fault, not the schools’. When my housemistress friend started teaching in 1992, she never got those calls from angry parents of dim children.

Today, those parents have been brought up in the All Must Have Prizes generation. They also expect good service everywhere else for their money – in restaurants, hotels and coffee shops. So why shouldn’t money buy straight A grades, too? …

And, meanwhile, the children – Generation Snowflake, as they have been called – have been mollycoddled and patronised throughout their younger days. Teachers, like my friend, are no longer able to be brutally honest about their shortcomings.

Eton College students

Eton College students, summer program

If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s the teachers’, not the pupils. When I taught at a London university, I was told that it was my fault there was such a gap between the top undergraduates’ results and the bottom undergraduates’.

At private schools in particular, teachers are expected to behave more and more like pliant instruments of parents’ demands, rather than independent instructors of their children.

My housemistress friend doesn’t just field those evening calls. She also has to have the parents to dinner twice a year to assure them how brilliant their children are, no matter how dim they might actually be. No wonder those parents are shocked when the GCSE results come through the letterbox, riddled with Cs and Ds.

It all makes for a perfect storm of entitlement, high expectation and babyish anger when that expectation isn’t matched by underperforming brains.

If exams are to mean anything, all mustn’t have prizes, however much money has been spent on their education.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was above average?

hat-tip Stephen Neil