Allow pupils 'to be more carefree'

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The Independent Online

UK schoolchildren live in an "age of anxiety" and should be allowed to adopt a more "carefree" attitude towards life, a headteachers' leader said yesterday.

Gillian Low, president of the Girls' School Association, warned that education had "lost its way" because of its focus on exam "hoop-jumping". Mrs Low, who is headmistress of Lady Eleanor Holles school in Twickenham, west London, talked of "a national shift" towards "examinations rather than education" and "inspection rather than inspiration".

Even the idea of carefree gap years was coming under scrutiny, she said, with some arguing they should be used as a chance to bolster CVs, rather than to tour Thailand, due to competition for university places.

"I am certainly not suggesting a retreat from the traditional curriculum," Mrs Low told her association's annual conference in Manchester. However, she added: "We must not ignore those things which deeply enrich lives. After all, there are no A-stars for determination, integrity, leadership potential, responsibility, values, kindness, common sense or a positive attitude towards life."