Children 11-13 Are Being
Forced To Grow Up Too Soon
By Judith Judd - Education Editor
Children between the ages of 11 and 13 are being forced to grow up too soon, the leader of Britain's private prep schools said yesterday.
George Marsh, head of Dulwich College prep school in London and new chairman of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, said that "tweenagers" were bombarded with media-led and sometimes parent-led hysteria to grow up.
"In households where both parents work, they sometimes look to children to take responsibility for themselves earlier than in the past: children are expected to get themselves home and to buy their own clothes."
He told the association'sannual conference in Bristol that schools had increasingly had to fill the gap left by parents. Pupils who had taken on the physical form of teenagers but were still mentally children needed the care prep schools gave.
"They deserve a childhood," he said. "They need our protection." When society was increasingly obsessed with exams, it was important for schools to take a balanced view.
He compared the examcentred lives of pupils in state primary schools aged 10 and 11 with the broad curriculum offered in prep schools. Unlike independent schools, state schools are compelled by law to prepare pupils for national tests at 11 and their resultsappear in league tables.
"What sort of education are those children receiving if their [state] primary schools are doing little in Year 6 except working towards tests? Thank goodness our independence allows us to offer variety, specialist teaching and academic challenges to our pupils."
He added that independent schools, too, had to ask whether children were being overloaded with exams, national tests, spelling tests, verbal reasoning tests, IQ tests and extra maths tests. They prepared pupils for the Common Entrance exam for senior independent schools, taken at age 13.

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