Excluded girls are stuck in a gender rut

7th September 2007 at 01:00
GIRLS EXCLUDED from school often find themselves stuck on archetypal female courses such as hair and beauty or forced to act like boys.

A team led by Pat Thomson, professor of education at Nottingham University, studied permanently excluded teenagers in two local authorities in the Midlands. The girls, mainly aged 14 to 16, attended a mixture of pupil referral units, FE colleges and charity projects, where the vast majority of attendees were white, working-class boys.

"Some girls behaved like the boys, as if to get on with the group you have to become an honorary boy or a ladette," Ms Thomson said.

"Other girls were very quiet. They may have been quite loud in the schools where they came from, but when dominated by a big group of boys, they became withdrawn."

Researchers found that excluded girls were offered very stereotyped educational options.

They said: "If they were not attending highly gendered specialist provision for example, the pink hair and beauty bus or the 'African hair' programme they were placed in alternative core classrooms where they had little choice but to spend at least some time on activities designed for the needs of boys."

Researchers said one local authority attempted to set up an all-girl motor mechanics course, but had been unable to get the funding.

They said there was a tendency to assume that all excluded children needed and wanted to take vocational rather than academic courses.

Researchers found very few instances of children taking more than two GCSEs, and those were generally in subjects such as art.

Researchers also warned that a lack of data on excluded children might be concealing gaps in services and the link between areas of high social deprivation and large numbers of exclusions.

* "Mapping the Alternatives to Permanent Exclusion" by Pat Thomson and Lisa Russell

www.jrf.org.uk

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