Dr. Mary Bousted, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said there was a growing ‘sense of entitlement’ among parents who pay tens of thousands of pounds to privately educate their children, telegraph.co.uk reported.
She said that as fees became higher and higher, parents increasingly believed that they had effectively ‘bought’ their children good grades and a place at a top university and expected the school to ‘deliver’ this.
“People think that if you work in an independent or private school, you don’t have pressures. Well, you don’t have the same pressures as teachers in state schools,” Bousted said.
“You are probably less likely to have children who come into school hungry and cold and with very, very fundamental problems with their home life, which makes the job of a teacher in a state school more challenging.
“But teachers in the independent sector often tell me ‘we don’t have that, but what we do have is a sense of entitlement among parents’.
“The entitlement is this: We are paying all this money for our children to be educated, 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.”
The average private school fees — including both day and boarding schools — is £16,686 a year, a rise of 3.5 percent from last year, according to data from the Independent Schools Council.
Bousted was speaking at the ATL’s annual conference in Liverpool, where delegates passed a motion calling on independent schools to carry out an audit of private school staff workload, and to produce guidelines for employers.
Helen Porter, an independent school teacher from Berkshire, said: “The workload is particularly high for colleagues at this time of year in the build up to external exams and when the first choice university offers are high on the wish list. Parents and students make it very clear to us that they expect the grades they paid for, and that means that we have to do extra revision sessions at lunchtimes, after school and even in the holidays.”
Bousted said that the demographic of privately educated children was changing, with international students now making up a sizeable proportion of independent schools.
Parents who lived overseas and had sent their children to Britain for schooling tended to have particularly ‘high expectations’ for academic success, she added. Bousted explained that parents overlooked the fact that this approach may do their children more harm than good.
“There are important life lessons to be learned, one of which is if you don’t do the time you won’t get the results,” she said.
“No one can get that result for you, you have to work for it yourself.”
Bousted said that teachers were working ‘insane hours’ at the behest of parents, which made their lives ‘extremely difficult’.