Constant feelings of inferiority can manifest itself badly. A high profile discussion thread on the Mumsnet Internet forum, allegedly written by a former student, suggested that Newstead’s “high pressure environment” made it “a breeding ground for anorexia, depression, anxiety and self-harm “.
Blount dismisses the idea that girls could be very competitive or coerced into being successful – whether by their parents or teachers. It is, he believes, in their nature.
“They are competitive, but not in a negative way, it’s a favorable level of competition. There is a will and a desire to lead and to win. We have a culture where no one is left behind here, ”he says. “A lot of the students here have an intrinsic determination. And when opportunity and willingness meet, that’s where you get success.
“They are excellent students, and so they allow us, as teachers, to indulge ourselves in them. Because they want to work, we want to inspire and motivate them. All of them are going to do great things, not just a few. “
Just as Newstead students are generally versatile with a primary focus on academia, it follows that parents generally encourage types who prioritize academia while giving their kids the opportunity to try so much. different activities as possible.
“I have to be the best, do my best,” Raducanu said of her parents’ expectations of her in an interview with The telegraph Last year. “They both come from very academic families and some pretty tough countries growing up – my dad in Romania and my mom in China – so they probably have a lot of that left. They were both communist countries, so education was sort of their only option.
Raducanu’s father, Ian, reportedly made sure his daughter gave lessons in ballet, car racing, horseback riding, swimming, tap dancing and basketball before tennis was adopted.
When I interviewed Asher-Smith two years ago (at the time, she was enrolled in a weekend political philosophy class as a hobby, without training), she said roughly the same thing: “My dad taught me to play everything – hockey, golf, I just had a lot of exposure to the sport. If she decided to quit athletics she said, “They would be shocked, but it’s okay, because my happiness comes first.
Blount understands that it can be difficult to balance extracurricular prowess with academia. “It’s not easy, but we make a plan with the student and the parents so that nothing is compromised,” he says. Raducanu – who is coached by Nigel Sears, her mentor’s father-in-law, Sir Andy Murray – would frequently need to miss lessons for matches.
“Emma might have been away for a week or a fortnight to participate in a tournament, but we would have given her work to do while she was gone, kept in touch, and then she would have been back the following Monday, Saturday. with his peers.
This formula seems to work – in most cases, anyway. Newstead’s Latin motto is Fortitudine Crescamus: “May we grow in strength”. Raducanu and Asher-Smith are gaining strength every year, including as models. Blount looks forward to welcoming them again.
“Hopefully when Dina comes back from the Tokyo Olympics and Emma takes a break, we can have them both here to see the students,” he said. “They are such an inspiration; we couldn’t be prouder.