Independent head: ‘Breathless, headlong change has left education in turmoil’

The Telegraph has an interview with John Newton, departing head at independent Taunton School, in which he says fast change and the focus on grades are raising “Generation Unhappy”…

…Having led the Somerset-based independent day and boarding school for a decade, Newton has been at the helm, guiding the school through policy change that has recently affected GCSE and A-level qualifications alike.

Yet far from thinking these changes have been beneficial, Newton – who at the end of this term will take up the position as head of Scotch College in Adelaide, South Australia – is convinced that the results will deliver a lesser service to pupils, leaving them unprepared for the global challenges that lay ahead.

“My concerns are that we – Generation Comfort Zone – are raising Generation Unhappy,” Newton argues. “The current Year 11s have been pulled through the biggest curriculum turmoil that a year group has seen in a generation, if not longer,” he says, citing A/S changes, the UCAS tariff change in 2017, and the recent change from modular GCSEs.

More broadly, he continues, “they will have to work for a lot longer, will have to save up harder to get a pension, will take longer to get a mortgage, will have to repay large university fees, and will have to enter a much more competitive market place.

“Right now,” he says, “it feels like education is used by parties to win votes, it’s not provided to our young people to give them the best futures possible.”

Yet, despite this turmoil, he adds that young people have reacted by being one of the most civic-minded and well-behaved generations of our times…

More at: ‘Breathless, headlong change has left education in turmoil’


Much more in the full interview, but your reaction to the main arguments raised here? Are education reforms creating a “Generation Unhappy” as he suggests? Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!

The Ofsted report about my former school is way off the mark
Schoolboy, 15, threatened with suspension for raking in £14,000 selling 'black market' chocolate and crisps
Categories: Policy and Private Schools.


  1. Janet2

    Too much focus on tests breeds anxiety and doesn’t tell teachers what they don’t already know.  

    Perhaps it’s time to boycott Sats and the so-called phonics screening test (actually a decoding test used for Gov’t propaganda and to judge schools).  And shift the focus at 16 to graduation at 18 via multiple routes  (I know, I keep saying this, but perhaps the message will eventually get through to politicians who seem more focused on their own careers by pushing through ‘reforms’ than by considering what is in the best interest of children and young people.)

    Let the children be:

Let us know what you think...