Uppingham School’s headteacher Richard Harman warns parents and teachers about pressure on pupils

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Uppingham School’s headteacher has warned parents and teachers not to put too much pressure on pupils.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, which was widely reported and commented on elsewhere, Richard Harman said today’s pupils were under too much pressure and hothousing them to achieve perfect exam grades could be detrimental to their future.

He also argued that outside worries, such as the economic climate and shrinking job market, were causing pupils to panic and they needed help in coping with that.

Currently chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association, Mr Harman is due to take over as leader of the independent schools’ Headmasters and Mistresses Conference next year. He has been head of Uppingham School, where fees for boarders are £30,000 a year, since 2006.

He told us that his comments had been directed mainly at parents of younger children in London, where anxiety about getting them into top day schools can lead them to put their children under too much pressure.

He said he had received mainly positive feedback on the story.

“As a boarding school we emphasise the education of character and the whole person as well as academic excellence and the two need to be in balance.

“Our parents have generally therefore already opted for an holistic approach to education rather than hothousing,” he said.

He went on to say that Uppingham had always provided a balanced education aimed at developing the whole person but in some parts of the education system the balance had got out of kilter.

“Rutland is fortunate that this is not the case locally as we have several excellent schools,” he said.

Mr Harman said his advice to parents and students was that academic success was important but not sufficient.

“Developing happy rounded individuals is the key,” he said.