14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

'Dumb' Reality TV Stars Are Making Our Kids Aspire To Be Stupid, Says Leading Head

Joey Essex

Reality TV shows such as The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea - and even Educating Yorkshire - are making our kids aspire to be stupid.

That's the view of a leading head teacher who says the shows create the impression that being 'dumb' is the route to riches.

Jo Heywood, head of Heathfield School in Ascot, Berkshire, said she was 'deeply concerned about the dumbing down of culture in the UK'.

She singled out TOWIE's Joey Essex, who cannot tell the time and is capitalising on his reputation for being dense as well as former cast member, Mark Wright, for particular criticism.

Mr Wright now has his own Heart FM radio show but has previously been described as 'disastrously dim' after comparing his jungle experience on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here to soldiers fighting in 'Africa'.

In a blog to be published on her school's website, Mrs Heywood, 42, said: "At first, reality TV may have seemed ironic – a TV experiment where we peered in at others' lives but now it has taken on a life of its own and some of its stars reflect the education system they have been brought up in.

"Some children and teenagers see them as role models whose behaviour they wish to emulate and whose lives they wish to emulate."

Mrs Heywood, 42, described TOWIE -and Made in Chelsea as 'mind-numbingly dull'.

But she said their 'stars' were 'lauded for their lack of intellect and, in some cases blatant stupidity to the extreme of a 'culture of stupidity' being the norm'.

She said: "The shows and their stars become a touchstone to their young audiences – the watercooler TV for their generation.

"They laugh along when Joey Essex tells millions he can't tell the time and revel in his ignorance.

"What sort of message does this send to the nation's teens, the majority of whom are within an education system which is bottoming out in the world education league – about working hard and improving their own rigour?

"Yes the likes of Mark Wright may have used the show (TOWIE) as a springboard for a radio career but what do they see and think about working hard if young people, many like themselves, are effectively making a living out of swapping tittle tattle and minutiae about their love lives and beauty regimes and making millions?"

She added: "The reality TV circus has come full circle because the rise of celebrity culture, the bedfellow of reality TV, has meant that our children have started to mirror some of those traits and they have become less respectful to their elders and peers.

"They can't see the benefit of working hard which is perhaps one of the biggest challenges (Education Secretary Michael) Gove faces in his battle to improve the school system.

"While TV companies continue to make shows for the lowest common denominator to make as much money as possible, this culture of stupidity will continue to infect our classrooms. "These stars become like friends to them – they discuss them at school and they believe they have more relevance in their lives than historical figures."

Mrs Heywood also attacked Channel Four's Educating Yorkshire - set in Thornhill Community Academy - for encouraging children to aspire to be reality stars.

She said: "Where in the past this may have been a one-off documentary, this was presented as a primetime entertainment reality TV series, even with its own Christmas special.

"While I certainly applaud some of the inspirational teachers and pupils who appeared, I do have to question whether it is morally right to make reality TV stars of the children and their teachers."