Ben Hayward October 4th
2020

‘People need to stop calling young people snowflakes’ the new head of one of the UK’s leading private schools will tell a Headteachers’ conference.

Addressing the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), Sally-Anne Huang, who has just become the first female High Master of St Paul’s school in London, will say that she fears the biggest scar left by 2020 could be the generational divide, reports The Guardian. 

Recently appointed chairwoman of the HMC - which represents 296 private schools - Ms Huang will say: “I for one am tired of hearing the young described as snowflakes. In this country I cannot think of a group of young people, out of war time, of whom more has been asked or from whom more has been taken than those in our nation’s schools in 2020.

“Anyone who, like me, was with 18-year-olds in March when they suddenly learnt that not just their chance to prove themselves in exams, but also all those joyous rites of passage at the end of their school days had been taken from them – anyone who saw them pick themselves up, move on, adapt, they would not call them snowflakes.

“Then they had the traumatic mess that was A-level results – and now they are being charged £9,000 a year for a university experience which will be remote at best, with the threat of being locked down in halls of residence when they have not had time to make friends or adjust to being away from home. It’s too much.”

Speaking at the virtual conference, Ms Huang will advise that going forward teachers will need to help ‘heal these wounds for them’ by continuing to improve access to private schools, delivering curricula that suits their needs, and continuing to question what’s going on in the exam system and at universities.

“I know that HMC schools are already pulling in this direction – I know that I am pushing at an open door,” she will say.

“But I feel the need now is urgent and that, rather than being the ivory tower we can sometimes be perceived to be – we are instead an essential life raft for liberal education, civilised debate about the future, respect for expertise and for the development of sport and of the arts.”

She will also outline how she believes it is part of a wider societal problem whereby more people are looking for division rather than common ground.

“[People] look for someone to blame, rather than a solution to a shared problem,” Ms Huang will say.

“At HMC, we are often the people who are blamed, and, although I would be the first to acknowledge the difference between our budgets and those offered to our colleagues in state schools, the reality is, we are willing and able to help with the problem.”

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