Thursday, 24 March 2011

Educating boys

I have three sons.  The eldest has been educated at a wonderful private school since he was three years old. It is a traditional school with old fashioned values and an equal mix of male/female teachers.  When he first started there in the kindergarten I was a single mum, spending most days running myself ragged working in Marketing and  driving several times a month to Swindon and back for meetings, trying to earn a good living and provide the best I could for him.   

One day whilst motoring down the M5 after a meeting that had over run, trying to get back to school to pick him up, I was stopped for speeding.  I finally arrived at school distressed and teary about an hour late.  As I ran down a corridor the headmaster walked out of one of the classrooms.  "Miss DuBois, you are always rushing about, and why are you late again to collect your son?"  I explained to him what had happened.  "you need to get a job that puts your child first, come and work for me, I need a secretary" 

At first I was afronted ! Does this man not know what I do ! I'm not a secretary !  but that night when I gave it some though, it actually seemed like a really good solution.  I could work in an office, not having to drive all around the country to dealerships and also be in the same place as my son was being educated.  I could see him, at work and at play everyday.

I accepted the headmaster's offer and received a heafty discount off No1 Son's fees and a modest salary.  I worked for him for eight years. It was worth the change in lifestyle.  No 1 son has had a first class education and is in the process of taking his G.C.S.E's this year (twelve of them), he will stay on for A levels.

After meeting and marrying my OH the twins came along and life changed dramatically for us.  When they were 3 they started at the kindergarten of No1 son's school  but it soon became clear to us that we would not be able to afford to pay for three boys to stay there.  When they reached reception age we transferred them to the local state school.  We did our research and believed the school to be the best in the area.  I was concerned about the fact that there was only one male teacher but had my concerns airily dismissed by the headmistress. 

Always someone who relies heavily on my instincts I became increasingly worried that they wouldn't get a rounded education because of the lack of male teachers.  Seven hours a day five days a week, in the company of only female teachers is not ideal for little boys.

I have read several articles on the subject, and all seem to agree on one thing, that boys need positive male role models when at primary school in order to develop fully.  If you have boys please take a moment to read these articles  The Telegraph   Guardian   The Independent

The twins have had their fair share of "incidents" since starting school, initially described as "settling into school routine" and now rolling over into Year one.  My husband and I are really concerned that it is becoming a pattern of their daily school life, that if not checked will " label" them for all their school life.  Desperate not to overreact, but also tired of the almost daily "Mrs Jones, can I have a chat please"  with the teachers, we are now asking ourselves whether we need to look elsewhere to educate our sons.


  1. I really hope that you find a solution to help all of you settle into a relaxing school routine again! It does sound like you are on the right track already though!

  2. Hope so Alethea, just waiting for the phone to ring now : ( xx

  3. Just hope everything goes well with you and your twin boys on this. Opens up a debate on Pvt vs State schools and you are witnessing the difference first hand. We have applied for the local state school which from outside seems quite a rounded, decent village school. Hope it is all we are expecting out of it.

  4. Thanks Ipshita, I think because you have a little girl all should be well. Majority of teachers these days are women. This is the problem for little boys in our experience. Good luck with the school, village schools do seem to come up tops from what I hear xx

  5. my son {yr 1} goes to my local free school - i have never even considered paying for my childrens education. In reception he had a lady teacher and she was lovely and just the kind of teacher my son needed to help him settle into the school routine - in yr 1 he has a male teacher who is also fantastic - i was soooo pleased to hear he'd have a male teacher but a few of his female classmates mothers were not so much - i think it's really sad so few men go into early education but i don't know how we can encourage more men into the proffession.
    i hope you get a solution for your boys soon.

  6. Hi Violet, I think you are right about reception, its important when they are first starting school to have a nurturing environment. But the twins school only has one man and they are only likely to have him for 1 yr if they are lucky. I am very nervous about them going all the way through primary with no male input.
    Men no longer go into teaching because of all the political correctness and threat of being accused of stuff, I am sure of that. There is no protection for the good male teachers these days.

  7. I believe that our boys teaching is being feminised. That they are expected to deal with female teachers, teaching them as though they are the same as girls and I am sure this is why girls get better results at school. The boys have been lucky so far, Maxi is in year 1 and has had two male teachers already. One in nursery and one this year. Boys need positive male role models in addition to their father and family. I would consider private for my boys if we could afford it and this is from a labour lady. But the education system is failing my clever, bright, loud, energetic and most of all male children

  8. I have three boys too and your post certainly rings bells with me. My older two initially went to state school and we then transferred them to the local private school - so they could have more male teachers and play sport every day. However, I don't think we will be able to keep them there because it is just too expensive. My youngest will be starting at the local state primary in September. Who knows what the future will hold.

    There is no obvious solution your problem. If you have the money, then you can go private but alternatively you could just try to make sure there are plenty of other male role models around for your boys.

    Sometimes, I wonder whether we worry too much about education?

    Do let me know what you decide to do. It is such a conundrum.

  9. Thank you Jen, I totally agree with everything you have said in your comment. Boys do need to be taught and delt with in a different way to girls. This is why we are soo frustrated. We feel its always "good little girls" and "boistrous, noisy boys".
    I know if I had girls I would feel differently, but I don't I have boys and like you they are clever, bright, loud and energetic. I am fed up of apologising for that. The school is failing them, not the other way around. xx

  10. The school my children go to only has one teacher tho they have had a male teaching assistant who has just left, and some on supply or working on placement.

    To be honest, one male teacher seems to be the best you can hope for in primary schools around here. The male teacher is the deputy head and for this year, he has no set class and has been doing sessions with groups of children from all classes. When Monkey did his with him, he was i awe of him and talked about him constantly. It's a shame there are no more teachers - more a shame that the teaching assistant left - but I don't know what else I can do. I am happy that this teacher is a considerably positive model for the boys. We are happy with our children's education and we have had no behaviour issues with him. He is in year 1 like your boys.

  11. I have 3 boys and when their father died in 2002 my eldest was 10, his male teacher was a godsend to us at that time, and was just what Matt needed to help him through his last 18 months of primary school. My younger boys are now 12 & 14 and I found the lack of male teachers through the primary school in the area we moved away to a real shame, as they don't have many close male family members either so I would have welcomed the male input. Unfortunately the few male teachers we've had seem to leave quite quickly to move on to deputy/head positions. They're now happily settled into secondary school, and the mix of teachers is great, and not 'phased' them from their lack of experiencing male teaching earlier in their schooling either.

  12. You have really made me think here Karen, maybe there will be a real problem in the future with our boys, so many kids today don't have a male role model at school either, its sad.
    Really hope what ever you decide for your lovely boys works out anyway. They (and you) deserve a blummin break XXXX xxxx

  13. I have listened to my daughters fears and agree totally with her worries and only hope that a solution can be found before it is too late. As a local elected Councillor working with the Childrens Services I see it time and time again how children can be labelled unnecessary and affects them all there lives. You have worked so hard to achieve their right to be educated to a standard we all deserve in a free country and the system is certainly letting us down in certain areas. I wish they could go back to their brothers school. Hugs your mother and grandmother. x

  14. This is a really interesting post. I hadn't really thought about it until reading this. I have two boys and one starting school this year and you are right there are very few males. I hope that things get sorted out. I'm really worried about Lucas starting school this year. xx

  15. Hi, I have 3 sons and agree with your post. I also think it's a matter of having the 'gift' for teaching. I worked in schools for 10 years, and the most outstanding teachers were the ones who had that underlying 'don't mess with me' authority. Males can be weak and lack the ability to control the group just as much as females. My youngest son's teacher has just gone on maternity leave. Though she is only in her twenties, she definitely has that in built ability to make the kids listen and respect her. Some of the male teachers I worked with let the pupils get away with things that I deemed inappropriate, saying 'that's boys for you.'
    an interesting debate, choosing schools is a very important and difficult thing, follow your gut, that's my advice. Lucy x

  16. I totally agree with Lucewoman we have a good mix of both female and male teachers in our local primary school which both my boys attended. I have to say though that from personal experience some of the male teachers were like a wet weekend and had no real backbone. The best teachers I found were the teachers with strong personalities who were not afraid to demand respect and take control of their class and these were often female teachers.

    I think that how your children are treated quite often depends on their personalities. Both my boys were exceptionally well behaved in school and no trouble to the teachers at all. I do feel though that because of their temperament they were often left out, forgotten about. The exceptionally bright kids got loads of attention as did the naughty kids but my boys I feel were just left to get on with things, when really they could have done with a lot more help and encouragement.

    I hope you find a solution to your problems very soon. x

  17. With a twin boy and girl scenario I see it all the time in conversations with teachers. Though the irony of lumping them together in one breath and me having to point out I talk about them seperately and do not want just one appointment for both to comparing daughter who is a a "good girl" and son who questions everything and women teachers definitely do not like it and see it as a challenge to them.

  18. Thank you ladies for all your comments, you have really given me something to think about. I will come back to this post when we have made some decisions. xx



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