Girls do like hard maths, says children’s commissioner

Dame Rachel de Souza’s comments follow claims from the government social mobility tsar that ‘hard maths’ is something girls would ‘rather not do’
17th June 2022, 1:59pm

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Girls do like hard maths, says children’s commissioner

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/secondary/girls-do-hard-maths-says-childrens-commissione-rachel-de-souzar
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The children’s commissioner has said that girls do “like hard maths” in an apparent rebuke of another government tsar’s comment about girls’ reluctance to take A-level physics.

Speaking at the Confederation of School Trusts’ annual conference in Birmingham on Friday, children’s commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said that, in her previous role at the Inspiration Trust, she had opened Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, a maths and science post-16 free school in Norwich, adding: “I just want to tell you that, in my view, girls like hard maths.”

The children’s commissioner also said that girls she had spoken to as part of The Big Ask - a survey of children post-pandemic - had talked to her about the importance of female Stem role models.

Dame Rachel added: “That was more the issue going into the classroom when there were all boys in physics - it wasn’t that they couldn’t do hard maths.”

Girls ‘don’t fancy physics because of hard maths’

Earlier this year, the government’s social mobility tsar, Katharine Birbalsingh, who is a headteacher, told MPs that “physics isn’t something girls tend to fancy” and that “there’s a lot of hard maths in there that I think that they would rather not do”.

Dame Rachel also said she had visited Ark Boulton Academy on Friday, where “the children and the mums and families [were] talking about, ‘There is no safe place to go, and that is why our kids are sitting in playing on their PS4, because I’m scared of what they’re going to meet down in their local shop, in the street and I’m worried about the park’’”.

She added that online, there was some “unbelievably harmful content” for children and that parents had told her they were “absolutely terrified” about keeping children safe.

The children’s commissioner said pupils had talked to her about “poverty, about housing, overcrowding, what it’s like to sleep in a bedroom, sleep in a living room as your bedroom, with 10 others and try to get an education”.

Dame Rachel said the “number one” priority for schools and trusts should be getting children back to school in September, and has set a 100 per cent attendance target for the 2022 autumn term.

“Whether it’s the secretary of state or whoever it is standing up here, that’s where we want the resources to go,” she said, adding that if trusts said they would get every pupil back “whatever it takes, then I know we will do better”.

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