There's a bad girl on the rise

Middle-class schoolgirls are being sucked into a "culture of laddishness"

that could threaten their academic performance, a survey found this week.

It revealed that the teenagers are smoking, drinking, swearing and misbehaving in school more than ever before. Some girls disrupt lessons for fear of being branded "uncool", said the researchers at Lancaster university.

Carol Jackson, author of the report, said girls were under pressure to underperform, a trend that used to be only seen in boys. She interviewed 200 13 and 14-year-olds for her book, Lads and Laddettes in School. "The girls suggested it's 'uncool' to work hard," said Dr Jackson. "This counters common perceptions that it's OK for girls to work but uncool for boys.

"First, it makes them appear cool and popular if they have a laugh and mess about in class. Second, there's so much academic pressure now that there's a fear of failure and of being regarded as stupid. Being laddish gets round that to some extent because you pretend you haven't worked and so expect to fail, and if you do well you're seen as a genius because others think you succeeded without effort."

Teachers in the survey said girls' behaviour was deteriorating, with some being "cheekier than ever". When questioned, pupils admitted trying to avoid being labelled a swot.

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