Guest Post: Steve Spriggs: Pushy Parents

Steve Spriggs discusses pushy parents in his latest post for School’s Improvement…

Money talks and money can certainly buy you a good education. It can’t however guarantee that your child will get into the school or university of your choice or that they will go on to pass all their exams with flying colours.

Dealing with the demands of parents is the main challenge of my job. My company helps children prepare for and pass entrance exams and teenagers to win a place at university. What we can’t do – no matter how much you pay us – is achieve the unachievable. Thus, the father who asked me how much it would cost for his daughter to get into the all-boys’ school Eton, had to be let down gently.

For many well-heeled parents, it’s Eton or nothing. So desperate are they for their son to share dorm space with future prime ministers and minor royals, they don’t even consider whether the school suits their child’s personality or abilities. Whenever we work with a family, we put the youngster in the centre of the process and act in his or her best interests. Will they be happy at this school? Will they flourish and thrive and emerge as well-rounded adults? If we don’t think the school fits, we’re left to confront the parents with some uncomfortable truths. That’s even before we have to explain that there are more wealthy parents than there are places at Eton and sometimes not even the best-suited child will win a place.

The rise in school fees means families are being even more insistent about what they want from a private school. Small classrooms, excellent resources and quality teaching is not enough, it seems. The Telegraph reports that at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ recent annual conference, its president Dr Mary Bousted said there was a growing “sense of entitlement” among parents who pay a premium to educate their children.

“The entitlement is this,” explains Dr Bousted “’We are paying all this money…therefore we expect you to get them through exams with very good grades and go to a top university’. “And somehow in that equation the sense that the parents have a role to play beyond paying, and that the child has to have the aptitude and ability… gets lost in the equation.”

She points out, and I can confirm it is true, that with schooling so costly, more places are being filled by international students whose parents send them miles away from home so they can experience the quintessential English education they’ve seen in films and books with chapels and listed buildings and pupils in boaters and tailcoats. Alongside this comes great expectations, many of which are totally unrealistic.

At the end of the day, whether you go to school with children from the local council estate or those born into aristocracy, the exam papers are the same and the results are down to hard work not deep pockets. At some point our job ends, the fees count for nothing and it’s up to the child to do their bit. I wish more parents would realise that.


About William Clarence Education

William Clarence Education is the leading education advisory and consultancy service in the UK. With an unrivalled reach into the UK Schooling and University network, William Clarence offers unbiased advice to students and parents from around the world; at every stage of their academic journey. From Independent School Application and Placement, full UCAS and University application consultancy, Oxbridge Applications  US College Admission and even Homeschooling programmes, William Clarence Education draws on a deep relationship driven network with schools, Universities and senior education figures within the industry. By putting the student and family at the centre of the process, William Clarence ensures their clients reach their maximum potential and gain access to the very best of UK education.  


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