'Snowplough' Parents Can't Deal With Child's Failure, Says St Paul's Girls School Head Clarissa Farr

“Snowplough” parents are so over-protective of their offspring that the children end up unable to deal with failure, a headteacher at a leading London all-girls school has reportedly warned.

There are parents who have such high aspirations that they are frightened of an occasion when their child may come second, Clarissa Farr, headmistress of St Paul’s girls’ school in London is said to have told a workshop at the Girls’ Schools Association conference this week.

“Their children will succeed above all and they’re not at all on board with the idea of school as a community, learning to come second or that learning to give ground is an important part of education,” she said, according to The Times.

Clarissa Farr, headteacher of St Paul's girls school

Farr also noted that some parents expect a “specific and bespoke” service from their school, and said expectations have increased.

She said: “Something that shocked me quite a lot and I’ve seen it more in the last few years, is the naked impatience with the idea of putting other people first that you see coming from parents.”

Referring to the over-protective nature of some parents Farr said: “Snowplough parents is a great description: clearing everything away in front of the child so that nothing can go wrong, self-esteem valued above all other attributes, anything that might threaten self-esteem must be moved to the side.”

Farr, whose school has famous alumni including actresses Rachel Weisz, Natasha and Joely Richardson and television presenter Susanna Reid, praised pupils for being aware of world events and changing the way they look at life as a result.