Are our children mentally tough enough?

27th Jan 2017

Research published recently from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) confirms what many of us have seen anecdotally for years, that children attending independent schools exhibit superior levels of mental toughness to their state school rivals.

I think the reason for this is the character based education that children receive and the focus on principles and values throughout their time at independent schools.

Equally, the variety of clubs and activities does more than simply add colour to an education it provides learning opportunities for children to understand how to overcome adversity, find solutions to complex problems and lead teams of people.

Of particular relevance to me however was the similarity between the measures of mental toughness and the school values at Radnor House. In particular ISC focussed on commitment, control, challenge and confidence which chime closely with our school values of excellence, respect, courage and perseverance. The underlying assertion was that from these behaviours flows excellence and high achievement.

As Parents we should reflect on the degree to which our own children are tested mentally and physically as they grow and develop. Are they often placed in situations which are almost too difficult for them to succeed but then encouraged to fight on and find a solution regardless?

I was talking to a Year 9 boy recently about him starting the Further Maths GCSE early. At the time he and a few others were somewhat apprehensive about whether they could cope, when I saw him last week he said to me, "Sir, it's hard, but it's a good hard".

That says it all and I think underlines what the ISC has identified as a broader theme across the sector.