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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Eton head attacks 'bully' parents
Eton College
Do parents treat schools like a supermarket?
The headmaster of Eton College has criticised "bullying parents" who are obsessed with their rights rather than responsibilities.

Tony Little warns that the relationship between parents and schools is becoming like one of "supermarket choice".

Parents sometimes lost sight of the fact that "individuals have responsibilities as well as rights", he said.

Fathers who behave badly on the touchline came in for criticism.

So did mothers who try to bully teachers into changing the way they teach.


Speaking at the conference of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools in Torquay, Mr Little said children needed guidance and to understand the importance of personal responsibility.

"The father aggressively urging a victory at all costs on the touchline, the mother bullying staff to change teaching arrangements, the parents wholly supportive of the school's disciplinary policy until it affects their child - such parents hinder and even damage their children," he said.

"We should always seek the active purposeful support of parents, which is frequently given.

"But we also know that parents are sometimes wrong, even about their own children, and while some of them may see themselves solely as paymasters in the relationship, we have a duty as experienced, professional people to stand up for our schools, its values and the child."

He also said many teachers feared schools were being damaged by the "the inexorable march of the tick box people, the minutiae of percentage points and league tables".

"The biggest worry we face is that an erosion of trust over the years in the teaching profession, voiced by politicians and echoed by the public, has led to a desire to control and direct the affairs of schools."

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