Working Parents Rely On Schools To Bring Up Children

Middle class working parents are increasingly relying on private schools to bring up their children as they are too busy to do it themselves, according to a teachers' leader.

Andy Waters, chairman of the Society of Heads of Independent Schools, said teachers were acting as surrogate parents and being relied on to act as "moral arbiters for children's upbringing".

But Waters, who is head of Kingsley School in Bideford, Devon, cautioned other heads against criticising "lacklustre" parenting.

"If our role is not to support the children from such families then what is it?", he told the Society of Heads' annual conference in Croydon, South London.

"Our often beleaguered parents need us to provide wrap-around care, breakfasts and evening meals, homework clubs and extra-curricular activities so that they can work the hours needed to earn the wherewithal to pay school fees."

Responding to Michael Gove's suggestion to extend the school day, she said: "I cannot see what can be gained from doing this other than providing free child care."

During his lecture, Waters added in the current financial climate schools were under increasing pressure to assist in the raising of children as parents took on bigger workloads.

According to Waters, many children attending independent schools ate breakfast, lunch and evening meals there, as well as undertaking extra-curricular activities.

The head also admitted to having had "delicate" moments with parents at his schools and hit out at claims private institutions are elitist.

Dubbing the EBacc as "restraining" he said schools needed "enrichment, diversity and creativity celebrated".

"If we cannot put a number to it, so what?” he said. “In curriculum terms if nothing else, you cannot lift the poor by destroying the rich.”