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Advice Health

delighted when he picked up his fi rst Harry Potter three years ago, admittedly later than his peers. However, now, aged 17, it’s all he reads. Surely he needs to upgrade a little? Valerie, Somerset

Prof Dennis Hayes says: At least your son is reading unlike many young people! There are many positive things in this situation. Reading and rereading one author is how many people read. I still read literature that way, devouring one author at a time. The trick is to get him to move on and develop a passion for a new writer. Philip Pullman is the obvious next step. Buy him the

who has had more than a petty argument and that is where I believe media accounts can be misleading. True, it may be easier to attack someone online as “fake” profi les can be established; however if your daughters have never faced serious bullying in real life I do not think there is a greater chance of them being harassed online.

My 17-year-old son has his heart set on nursing. My husband is in disbelief, thinking it a waste of the school fees and is worried he will never earn a decent living. I’ll admit I wanted him to be a doctor, but he must go where his heart takes him, and I’m sure he will be an excellent nurse. How can I support his dream, and help him stand up to his father but at the same time, ensure he is not selling himself short? Perhaps he wants to be a doctor but is frightened of failing medical school? Miranda, Surrey

Dark Materials trilogy starting with Northern Lights. He might enjoy Pullman’s website www.

I have resisted letting my twin 16-year- old girls have Facebook accounts after seeing stories of online bullying in the newspapers. They are furious and say it means they miss out on party invitations not to mention homework sessions. Who’s right? Susan, west London

Claudia Miller says: Social network sites are always going to be a divisive issue between parents and children, however I think this is mainly due to a lack of communication of the pros and cons. Online bullying is one example: I have never encountered anyone


Isabel Douglas-Hamilton is a Second Year Student at University College London and is reading French and Russian.

Dr Max Pemberton says: Nursing is a wonderful profession but it is often poorly paid and does not receive the respect that it deserves. It does seem a shame that an enthusiastic young man is being deterred but I do understand it. Having said that, I think your husband should count himself lucky that he has a son who feels passionately about a career at such a young age. Firstly, is there a realistic chance that your son could get into medical school – which means he is capable of getting mostly As at A level as well as a high score in the medical school entrance exams? There’s no point in anyone trying to push him to consider this as a career choice if it’s unrealistic. Encourage him to get lots of work

experience if he hasn’t already done so, both with nurses and doctors, so he can see the diff erent jobs they do and which appeals to him the most. Finally, suggest he talks to some doctors and nurses and that he canvases their opinions. Nursing needs dedicated, caring and intelligent people and I sincerely hope I get to work with your son on a ward one day. All any parent wants is for their child to be happy, and if being a nurse makes him happy, then that’s mission accomplished and was worth the school fees.

My 16-year-old son was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 12. He is fairly low on the scale, but seems to be getting worse. I’d like him to board for his A levels, as I think he needs a fresh start. But how do senior schools cope with children with special educational needs? Henry, Buckinghamshire

Lindsay Marriott says: My advice would be to have a good chat with the Learning Support department at all of the schools you’re considering and someone within the pastoral team, as they’ll be the ones who’ll have close contact with Henry on a day- to-day basis. Boarding can often be a good way for children to build and sustain close friendships and so that may be worth considering further.

Our First Eleven panelists invite you to email your questions to: editor@fi


Alex Corkran is a motivational speaker for schools on issues such as eating disorders, with talks based on her own experiences.


Lindsay Marriott is Head of Learning Support at Bryanston School. She has worked as a LS teacher for 10 years and has extensive experience of the boarding sector.

Autumn 2011 FirstEleven 63

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