Prep schools have to cope with a small number of parents who are "a selfish and unreasonable nuisance", headteachers at independent schools were told yesterday.
Up to 10 per cent of parents of prep school pupils were unsupportive and unappreciative of the school, Simon Carder, chairman of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS), said at the group's annual conference.
Some of them were "a selfish and unreasonable nuisance" and schools should ask them to remove their child rather than see educational principles compromised and teachers' morale undermined. Mr Carder also called on parents to show more public loyalty to their children's school to set an example for pupils.
He also said that in trying to protect children, schools had become increasingly reluctant to expose them to risk. Speaking the day after a teacher was jailed for 12 months for the manslaughter of a pupil who drowned on a school trip to the Lake District, Mr Carder said: "There is a danger that in trying, commendably, to protect children we become increasingly reluctant to expose them to anything which might possibly constitute a challenge.''
Mr Carder told The Independent that more than half of prep school pupils now had parents who were not educated in the private sector. While parents who attended private schools tended to have a "hands-off" approach to education, "first-time buyers" wanted to be more involved. Fee-paying junior schools were facing an increasing number of "pushy parents who believe their child should be top of the class and insist there must be something medically wrong if they are not the best academically'. Other parents behaved aggressively at school sports matches, said Mr Carder, who is also headmaster of Eagle House School in Sandhurst, Berkshire, a co-educational prep school.
He told journalists at the conference in York: "Often if a child isn't top of the class, the parents will insist that something must be wrong and take them off to specialists to find out why they aren't top. I feel that sometimes parents need to just stand back and accept that their child is not top of the class because they are not of that academic calibre, not for any other reason.''
The association has asked Ofsted, the schools watchdog, to investigate boys' achievements after national test results showed that while boys lagged behind girls in state primaries, at junior independent schools they keep up with the girls.
Boys of 11 were three percentage points behind girls in English tests at IAPS schools compared with 10 points in state schools. But unlike state schools, independent schools are not obliged to follow the national curriculum.
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