Cardamums in search of Spice of life

11th September 1998 at 01:00
'Bump chic' is dangerous, warns SHA's new president who says under-achieving teenagers may be tempted to follow the Spice Girls into motherhood. Frances Rafferty reports

Pregnant Spice Girls Posh and Scary could be responsible for a new generation of "Spice babies", with teenage girls emulating their pop heroines, a headteachers' leader has warned.

Judith Mullen, the new president of the Secondary Heads Association, said she was concerned that young girls who have not achieved at school will look to other ways of finding success, for example by having a baby.

"The Spice Girls may make having a baby seem glamorous, especially to girls who have not achieved five A to C grades in GCSE and are suffering from low esteem," she said.

John Dunford, the association's new general secretary, said he was most worried about girls aged 13 to 15 who see the pop stars as role models. These are the teenagers who often lack confidence because of low key stage 2 results.

With nearly 9,000 girls under 16 becoming pregnant, the United Kingdom has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.

Spice Girls Melanie Brown and Victoria Adams, girlfriend of Manchester United player David Beckham, and Melanie Blatt, singer in the girl band All Saints, have been credited with creating "bump chic" - flaunting their pregnant bodies with pride.

The heads' leaders blamed the examination league tables for forcing schools to concentrate on the border-line candidates, as there is no incentive to encourage pupils to go from an A grade to A* or an F to D.

"If we are to motivate schools to be successful, we must relate that success to the achievements of all pupils," said Mr Dunford.

He said he welcomed the Government's interest in increasing the emphasis upon personal and social education and citizenship, but said the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority must not go down the road of over-prescription.

Mrs Mullen said: "As president of SHA, it is my aim to promote a learning culture for all within a framework of social inclusion, linking education policy with wider social policies."

* Tony Blair, Platform, page 21

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