ISA Annual Conference 2014 – Chairs Address

15th May 2014

Teachers are failing to equip pupils with a basic sense of right and wrong, ISA’s Chair Richard Walden has warned today.

Speaking at the Association’s Annual Conference in Warwickshire, Mr Walden used his opening address to highlight the negative impact of the results driven culture in UK schools.

He said that some state schools are so results focused that they fail to offer children a fully rounded education – including the values that will equip them for life.

“Schools are turning out too many amoral children because teachers cannot find the time to teach the difference between right and wrong.”

“Too many staff are overwhelmed by the pressure to achieve results. It seems that the only results that matter are those which have created added value in terms of raising a pupil’s statistical level from one stage to the next, and parents are increasingly buying in to this notion. 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.”

Richard Walden also backed calls to introduce more publicly funded independent school places – in a bid to offer a broader education to more children.

“Independent schools devote a great deal of time to the extra curricular – to lessons and activities which enrich a child’s education. Our teachers strive to provide pupils with emotional intelligence, a 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.”

“There is a shortage of school places, especially now in the primary sector, but I do not believe it is necessary for government to pour millions into trying to establish new schools in many areas where there are already good independent schools.  A new school is risky:  it takes time to develop the right ethos and initially it may not work.  If politicians would take courage and channel funds into placing pupils at already well-established independent schools, they would know in advance the likely outcomes for the pupils, because the ethos of the school is already deeply embedded and publicly respected.”

The Independent Schools Association’s Annual Conference is being held at Coombe Abbey Hotel in Warwickshire from 15-17 May 2014.

ISA Chair Richard Walden is Head of Castle House School in Shropshire.

To read the full text of Richard Walden’s opening address please click here.