State schools are producing a generation of children who have no moral compass because of league-table pressure, according to a leading private school headmaster.
Richard Walden, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, says a relentless focus on academic results means schools are shunning extra-curricular activities and pupil well-being.
Speaking at the association’s annual conference yesterday, Walden said that recent research shows, “the country is turning out too many amoral children because schools cannot find the time to teach the difference between right and wrong, as so much school time is spent on ‘teaching the basics'”.
Walden, who is the head of a private school in Shropshire, argued that many state school teachers are operating in a “climate of fear” and are “overwhelmed by the pressure to achieve results”.
He explained: “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.”
Walden also commented that learning values allows pupils to “distinguish the good from the bad and the true from the false”.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers disagreed with Walden.
He claimed: “I don’t think there is evidence to support an amoral generation emerging from our schools.
“In many ways, the coming generation has higher standards than our own.”
And a Department for Education spokesman said: “All schools should provide a broad education and have a duty to promote the wellbeing of their pupils.
“Our reforms will reduce the number of tests that children take and have given teachers the freedom to use their professional judgement to tailor lessons such as PSHE to meet their needs.”