Girls’ school principal shares personal failures with pupils

The headteacher said the “culture of perfectionism” on social media is “really damaging”

The principal of an independent day school for girls has used Twitter to share his own personal failures with students to show that failure can be a valuable learning experience.

Richard Tillett, principal of Queen’s College, London, said he experienced a “total collapse of confidence” in his third year at university.

One of his tweets read: “Despite having over thirty lessons, I failed my first driving test because I drove straight over three mini-roundabouts. I blamed anybody and anything else, but the fact is: I drove straight over three mini-roundabouts. #failureweek.”

During what the school marked as ‘Failure Week’, all PSHE lessons explored what it means to fail, how we can re-define failure (e.g. by calling it a ‘first attempt in learning’), what it means to have a growth mindset and how failure can be good for your brain.

Tillett said: “I believe it’s crucial that those of us in leadership roles speak out honestly about our own failures and how they have made us better, more resilient and ultimately more successful people.

I believe it’s crucial that those of us in leadership roles speak out honestly about our own failures and how they have made us better, more resilient and ultimately more successful people

“Failure Week at Queen’s College, London is about ensuring our pupils feel safe to fail, in a supportive environment at school, and recognise that failing the first time can actually lead to better overall outcomes.

“I believe the current culture of perfectionism that pervades social media is really damaging and, frankly, dishonest.

“I hope, by sharing some of my own personal failures on social media, I can demonstrate to pupils here that some degree of failure in life is inevitable and can equip us, ultimately, to succeed.”


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