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Disaffected sixth-formers

Mike Kent is a Friday columnist and head of Comber Grove primary school in the south London borough of Southwark

"As a primary school, we don't get pupils feeling this kind of pressure, though parents occasionally create too much stress. It's difficult for parents; they want their children to do well, but they can go over the top.

It's a bit of a tightrope. One mother, a clever woman, wanted more than just the best from her child. The kid was a bit nervy but lovely, and in cases like that we gently ask the parents to back off a bit.

"We had one boy whose behaviour was out of order. He didn't want to do much in school; he would drift off or disrupt others if he could. It turned out that when he went home he was sat down and made to grind through textbooks; he just couldn't cope. His sister was subjected to the same treatment but it didn't seem to bother her in the same way, though she was anxious. We tried to work with the parents but they wouldn't relent, so we tried to give him space in class so he wouldn't disrupt others. We also gave him opportunities to work with children who did have a good work attitude."

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