Mrs Hanbury headmistress talking with students outside
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Clarissa Farr, ex -Head of St Paul's Girls' School, made many good points about parental over-interference in their teenagers' lives in her article in last Saturday's Times (25 May 2019).  As the Head Mistress of LEH, I have experienced similar anxieties among parents and their daughters.  However, I always remind myself that there is only one thing worse than a pushy parent: a parent who doesn't care about their child's progress. At LEH we focus on opening parents' eyes to better ways of encouraging their daughter's success - allowing failure and supporting the girls through disappointments, not seeking to protect them from every sling and arrow, or refusing to accept what they perceive as "second best". The vast majority of parents want to get it right and many admit they need all the help they can get.  In this day and age, within an education system that values exam grades above all else, it is not surprising that parents assume that "right" looks like a clean sweep of A*s.  I am however, beginning to hear from parents who recognise the value of so much more that schools like LEH offer. Music, sport, drama, debating, all offer opportunities for young people to learn by trial and error - no one expects to play brilliant netball the first time they set foot on a court, or manage Mozart's clarinet concerto after half a dozen lessons. Likewise, they should not expect to get top marks in French composition in Year 7 or be outstanding mathematicians without getting things wrong regularly: that's the process of learning, and knowing how to learn is the single most important thing that anyone will learn at school.

It stands to reason that, if we are to hand out gold medals, very few people will get them. And so we find other ways to show we value our students - and we talk to parents all the time about this, through a whole series of parent advice evenings run often by the parents themselves, focusing on how to dig your way out of the snow drifts, not misleading them into thinking that it will magically melt away.

By Mrs Hanbury - Head Mistress of LEH School

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