Helen Wright

Dr Helen Wright, headmistress of St Mary’s Calne, a private boarding school for girls in the UK.

A leading British headmistress is worried that it is not just today’s schoolchildren who lack values and good standards of behaviour but also their parents. Dr Helen Wright, president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), does not blame the parents because she believes they themselves were failed by the education system at a young age. In a speech Dr Wright said:

“I have a deep worry that some parents have been so deprived in their own lives of education and values, that they no longer know right from wrong and that they are as a result unwittingly ‘indulging’ children in some parallel universe where it is acceptable to let young children wear make-up and provocative clothing.

“If parents can’t see anything wrong in dressing up their children in ‘Future WAG’ T-shirts and letting them wear make-up, high heels and ‘mini-me’ sexy clothing, then something is intensely wrong in our society.

“I have no doubt that these are the parents who have been failed by the education system themselves. These are the parents without support, experience or networks. They have grown up without any respect for their elders or any idea of how to bring up a child.

“But how do we break the cycle? Education, of course – and the support of schools embedded in their communities.”

The British government has announced plans to provide parenting classes for around 50,000 people next year as part of a national trial. Families in some areas will be given tuition in areas such as communication and listening, managing conflict, discipline and setting boundaries for children.

The GSA has created a website, My Daughter, to provide information and advice on all aspects of educating and raising girls.

Well, there is certainly no shortage of people in the UK who can see what the cultural problems are. Let’s hope there are enough who know the answers to do those parenting classes.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet