If your kids come home and kick the cat, put their feet on the table and order you to make their dinner – or else – don't blame them: it's their school's fault. Their STATE school, to be specific.
For - according to a leading PRIVATE school headmaster - the state education system is creating a generation of 'amoral' kids who don't know right from wrong.
Private schools, on the other hand, produce wonderfully polite, decent, caring well-mannered young citizens who contribute massively to the caring and wellbeing of the nation. I'm paraphrasing, of course.
In a report in the Telegraph, Richard Walden, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, said STATE school kids fail to understand the difference between right and wrong because of a relentless focus on league tables and academic results.
Does he have a point or is this just complete and utter tosh?
Aside from the fact that most of us parents think it's our job to teach our own children about morality and decency and manners, it's simply insulting to suggest that children who have a state education are any worse behaved than some of the products of the private sector. But Mr Walden - head of Castle House School in Shropshire - thinks differently. In a speech to the association's annual conference, he insisted the state education system is shunning extra-curricular activities and pupil wellbeing because of pressure to inflate exam results.
He compared league tables to the 'modern equivalent of the Gradgrinds' in Dickens's Hard Times, with 'endless testing regime and league tables replacing the birch'.
And he said recent research had concluded that 'the country is turning out too many amoral children because schools cannot find the time to teach the difference between right and wrong, as so much school time is spent on 'teaching the basics'.'
Addressing headteachers in Warwickshire, Mr Walden said: "Too many staff in maintained schools operate in a climate of fear. They are overwhelmed by the pressure to achieve results.
"I hear of primary schools that inflate results and then when the pupils reach secondary school, the teachers there know that the results are too high.
"This focus on league tables and attainment levels distracts teachers and effectively disables them from providing children with a more rounded and enriching education - one that will give them the moral compass they need for life.
"Education is the mark of a civilised society; we believe it should prevent barbarism.
"But it does not seem to be enough. Reception of factual information is not enough because it may be replete with falsehoods. It has to be knowledge with values."
He said that fee-paying schools already place a large focus on 'respect for discipline and academic seriousness, sport and culture, citizenship and community, service, environmental awareness, spiritual life and personal responsibility'.
He said: "This sends out into the world young people with emotional intelligence, developed moral understanding and a willingness to make a contribution to society.
"These are not measurable by statistics or on inspectors' tick-charts, but they are the qualities that employers want and the world as a whole needs."
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