Missing models

9th March 2001 at 00:00
RAGING hormones and the trauma of adolescence may go some way to explaining the problematic relationship between boys and school but is no one addressing the issue of male role models?

When I took up the headship of a small primary in the early Nineties, four out of five nearby schools were headed by men. When I left eight years later, all, including myself, had been replaced by women. It is a pattern that is being reflected across the country and it is not doing boys any good at all.

This isn't a debate about equal opportunities, nor am I suggesting that some sort of gender discrimination should be applied to try to restore a balance; there has clearly been discrimiation against women in the past. Instead, questions should be asked about why so many male teachers are leaving the profession and why they are so hard to recruit.

Questions should also be asked about why no mention is made at any level about boys' "emotional literacy". Evidence suggests that boys greatly value the opportunity to talk with older males (ideally their fathers) about their thoughts and feelings but Britain's long working hours culture inhibits opportunites for this. So, with primary schools dominated almost exclusively by women, boys are denied access to the positive male models they so badly need.

Mark Edwards

36 George Street, Bedford

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