Ponderings on the princessy crap from primary school

(73 Posts)

Just wanted to gather my thoughts and yours really, and would prefer not to make myself look barking mad to the school.

DD is nearly 6, in yr 1. We are encouraging her to have a balanced view I suppose - she loves to dress up as princesses/plays with dolls etc but also does lots of climbing trees, camping, is pretty fearless, not pandered to. DH is a man working in a nearly all female profession.

From school she keeps bringing home all these ridiculous 'certificates' - Star princess of the week, 'special princess' etc etc. It is giving me the rage. I do not want any encouragement of ah a delicate little special snowflake because she is a girl stuff. I am thinking of going in to school and asking them to consider making their rewards more gender-neutral.

On one hand, many of the girls do like it, I am sure DD likes it, but I would much rather she was rewarded with a certificate for working hard or trying hard or something more concrete and specific. Not princess crap.

Any thoughts? Will be popping back later

DorisIsWaiting Mon 28-Jan-13 11:41:22

I don't normally post here (not anywhere knowledgable) but I would agree whole heartedly.

DD's school does a star learner of the week ( Not the highest marks but the child who has tried consistently and worked hard that week). Which is gender netural and focusing on learning. They also used to have another award for behaviour which was VIB (like VIP but the school motto is Bee related).

TBH I would be horrified with star pricess it sends such an appalling message, I would have to confront. Do the school have a parent council or an ideas box (we have both) where you could make an alternative suggestion.

NormaStanleyFletcher Mon 28-Jan-13 11:45:41

It would horrify me too. A school should not be perpetuating this sexist princess crap that they are bombarded with constantly.

What do the boys get (out of interest).

OneMoreChap Mon 28-Jan-13 11:48:35


I can get a bit confused about some of the issues raised here, but this would drive me even more hairless!

Grossly inappropriate stereotyping and bad for both girls and boys.
I'd have complained directly to the head.

I don't know what the boys get, I will find out. I am a parent governor at the school so I am happy to pursue it.

I don't normally post in here either grin but I figured I might get some support in this section. Not sure if I was overthinking it, but I'm glad it's not just me. Thanks.

AmandaPayne Mon 28-Jan-13 13:09:04

That is awful. I would be fuming if my daughter's school did this. I'm giving it fairly good odds that the boys aren't 'special prince' (though, of course, a prince isn't a passive figure in the same way anyway).

AmandaPayne Mon 28-Jan-13 13:10:09

Oh, but just to say, you may be met with confused when you take it up with the school, so I would formulate some clear thoughts on why it is wrong. Those depend quite a lot what boys get though, as I suspect comparison makes your arguments strongest.

Miggsie Mon 28-Jan-13 13:17:28

I would ask them to define what a "star princess" actually is, and why they think it is desirable.

What does it mean?
And how would it differ from being say, a "star washerwoman" or "star prince"? Or "star cowboy"?

Whenever people come up with this princess stuff I ask which particular princess they are thinking of - Marie Antoinette - who became a queen and was executed by her own subjects? Princess Grace - killed in a car crash? Princess Diana? - Ditto.
Princess Lombard? - had her head hacked off by a mob in the French revolution.
Princess Joan - child of Edward 2 who was married off to a serial adulterer and eventually left him to live in penury dependent on her mother?

In history most princesses get married off to some bloke, have tons of children - whom they spend little time with, are forced to live with their husband's societally approved adultery, do needlework, and eventually die...is this something to aspire to when in primary school?

NormaStanleyFletcher Mon 28-Jan-13 13:23:47

Good post Miggsie.

What do they actually mean by referring to someone (who is not in the top 100 for succession to the throne presumably) as a princess? Are they saying that they seem like they might be able to make a play for Harry (not that you would become a princess just for marrying him).

LaraInTheSky Mon 28-Jan-13 15:36:57

Miggsie, or maybe they were thinking on the Duchess of Cambridge, of whom all we know about it that she got MARRIED, and wears smart CLOTHES.

Princesses, duchesses, ladies etc. are awful role models for girls who need to concentrate on their studies, develop their skills, and try to express their individuality in such a confusing world.

Dozer Mon 28-Jan-13 17:35:46

Urgh. I wouldn't like this at all and would complain.

LadyKinbote Mon 28-Jan-13 20:42:49

I would be horrified if DD came home with that!

feministefatale Mon 28-Jan-13 20:48:11

I'd be horrified. I like Miggsies post use that, if the boys get a star prince award it may be more difficult to argue. It would annoy me less though (slightly)


This is the worst one. When she brought it home I waved it at DH with a catsbumface, he also thoroughly disapproves.

EATmum Mon 28-Jan-13 21:41:47

Hideous! Complain to the school of course. At this age our DD don't have the experience to challenge what they're told at school. So it's really important to me that the messages from school are balanced. This is NOT!

NormaStanleyFletcher Mon 28-Jan-13 21:49:52

Oh dear me (having seen that image)


Let us know how you get on

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 21:51:54

Ask her teacher what a star princess is.

I used to do pupil of the week. Loved doing that. But Princess?

Sorry to dripfeed the pic now, I had to take a snap then edit the identifying info off it (very badly) I just feel it's so sappy and pointless and so NOT what I want her to aspire to or be proud of.

I will see someone this week and come back to you all.

fluffywhitekittens Mon 28-Jan-13 21:54:35

Oh my word. shock

HumphreyCobbler Mon 28-Jan-13 21:56:48

This is not good. I hope they listen to you.

Viviennemary Mon 28-Jan-13 21:59:14

I wouldn't like the princess stuff either. It is a bit silly for a school to be doing this kind of thing. It would be interesting to know what the boys were called. Not prince surely! Why is the school using the term princess.

threepiecesuite Mon 28-Jan-13 22:00:04

I would not be happy at all if my DD came home with this. I'm no feminist but I don't peddle princess crap to my DD and I wouldn't think school would stoop to this level either.

sooperdooper Mon 28-Jan-13 22:00:16

I can't believe they actually hand that out, I'm shocked!!

Good luck with talking to the school, you're 100% right to pull them up on this, how ridiculous

Love to know what the boys get too, out of interest!

Urgh. I would definitely pursue this.
So passive and nothing.


Looking forward to hearing what the school says! I'm guessing they just haven't thought it through properly, but still confused

EduCated Mon 28-Jan-13 22:05:12

Oh my God. I'm not sure if I'm more offended by the concept or the godawful design of the certificate shock

CaptainNancy Mon 28-Jan-13 22:05:24

Is it an all girls school? Whatever do the boys come home with?

I would be complaining to school I'm afraid- completely the wrong message to be giving children.

steppemum Mon 28-Jan-13 22:05:51

I a horrified.

1st - what is it a certificate for? It isn't for acheivement or for effort or for anything. What does that mean star princess?? That you came in in a pretty dress confused

2nd - horrible gender stereotyping. dd2 wouldn't mind, but dd1 would have been very very cross, she doesn't do princess. She would have put it in bin and said 'it wasn't for anything, so no point' She is not easily fooled. She owuld have wanted the boys version, whatever it was.

we have star of the week, with a space for why they were a star. And head teachers award, again where it specifies what for. Also seen golden awards etc.

I would definitely complain

GreenGateGeorge Mon 28-Jan-13 22:07:48

"Star of The Week" would be better surely? I think it would be perfectly reasonable to ask what qualities or behaviour the school/teacher is trying to promote with this, and ask them to change it to something more achievement-based. Perfectly acceptable to give children rewards for not necessarily getting highest marks but trying hard, behaving well etc. If it was "Queen", you could possibly say that there was a lesson about being a leader, being a good example etc, but princess is not only sexist but also fairly pointless.

Awful. Do please let us know how you get on.

I work in an all-girls school and there is no way on god's green earth that that would be allowed / condoned / in any way acceptable.

HelenLynn Mon 28-Jan-13 22:12:33

I would have to say something. The whole "princess" thing is a just terrible model for behaviour and self-image.

I'd want to say something about the comma splice on that certificate, too, but there I would probably restrain myself.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 22:16:44

Oh yes - the comma splice. How could I miss that smile

All pink, castles and princesses!! I can see the boy one - trains, engines and planes?

It's not for anything in particular AFAIK. No, it's not a girl's school, a normal community primary in the 1950s .

Please tell me what's wrong with the comma, I don't get it blush

I have a feeling it should be a colon though?

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 22:25:31

It could be a semi -colon or a dash.

But it's not a comma. The comma splice is a common mistake when you connect 2 separate sentences using a comma.

Teachers smile

KRITIQ Mon 28-Jan-13 22:36:52

I thought I'd seen it all. I'm pleased to see that you are raising a concern. For the life of me, I can't see why any teacher would have seen this as a good idea. Everything about it is wrong.

As others have said, it is very encouraging to give awards/rewards to children who come out top in this or that activity, who have shown the most improvement, who have put in the most effort, etc. It should be an award that has meaning and value for all children (so all will want to aspire to it, or something similar.)

Conditioning to conform to gender stereotypes starts at birth. Boys are "meant" to be active, competitive, "do" things, be independent, be assertive. Girls are "meant" to be well-mannered, attractive, helpful and passive. There are STRONG prohibitions against boys appearing like or doing things associated with girls. The underlying message is "girl things" are beneath them, inferior, second class. Yes, many parents try hard to counter this, but it's nigh on impossible to eliminate all the messages children get pelted with.

So, if girls that achieve something get certificates that are "girly" looking, they and the boys will already have some awareness that the award isn't as real, isn't as important to an award that contains imagery associated with boys, or is gender neutral. So the "lesson" here is basically, "Girls, no matter how hard you work or how much you achieve, it will never be as important or as valuable as what boys do." They're expected to be content as little passive "star princesses."

Surely, surely it would be better to give no awards at all, no recognition at all to any of the children rather than giving ones that further cement harmful gender stereotypes.

Explain clearly that you believe their practice is HARMFUL to children, in the same way that giving certificates with distinctive disabled and not disabled images, or different certificates with images of poor children and rich children to kids from different socio-economic backgrounds would likewise be harmful. Insist that they give awards that show value all children will recognise and aspire to, or ditch the idea alltogether. Even if they just didn't give awards to your child, she and all the other children would still see the same practice carrying on (and she'd also feel excluded if she was no longer eligible even for a really duff award.) I think you mentioned you were on Governors. If you don't get the answer you want, kick up the most almighty stink you can that way.

I know some people are a bit "meh" about whether separating kids strictly into pink and blue streams is harmful, but I suspect even most of them would find what this school is doing to be pretty appalling. Local paper interested in the story?

KRITIQ Mon 28-Jan-13 22:38:16

Oh, grammatically, I think it should be two separate sentences with a full stop at the end of each!

AmandaPayne Mon 28-Jan-13 22:41:10

God, it gets worse. Hideous certificate and poor punctuation!

clarexbp Mon 28-Jan-13 22:47:32

OMFG, (or poss : or ;) I would be livid. This is so way-off-the-mark that I would wonder what other subtle (or not) messages were being peddled. Somebody needs more than a quiet word, they need some serious equality and diversity training.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 22:55:23

I'd go in - tackle the Princess issue. Then, as you're leaving, mention the comma splice as well. Teachers love parents like that.

grin kim, naughty. I will skip the comma for now.

I am going to throw in about their nit letter though. Every time we get a 'look out for nits because someone is crawling with them letter' I tut and huff a lot. Because it says that girls should wear long hair tied back.

Not children with long hair, or pupils with long hair. Girls.

I am getting myself all cross so close to bedtime. Must stop it.

I will let you know how I get on though. I am quite excited about it now. I love a bit of healthy debate.

ThingummyBob Mon 28-Jan-13 23:05:11

I thought that maybe you were talking about the little stickers they sometimes get OP. These might have princessy sentiments on, but they are from a sheet of many designs and the children pick their own from the sheet in the class I help out in (Pre bought/printed reward sticker sheets).

I don't like them and always encourage the girls to take the non-princessy ones grin

That certificate you have though is out-of-his-world-awful shock I cannot fathom why a teacher would design that themselves. Really, what on earth was he/she thinking? I'd definitely bring it up with the school if it was me!

NormaStanleyFletcher Tue 29-Jan-13 12:26:47

Any update?

I've been into school for something else today but the person I have chosen to discuss this with isn't in at the moment. Probably tomorrow. But I am definitely going to do it. Will let you know grin

RoadtoSussex Tue 29-Jan-13 13:25:04


That would have been completely unacceptable in all of the schools where i taught.

The odd 'princessy' or gendered thing might occasionally come in to the classroom eg. if you gave children the choice of what to do/draw/wear/write/bring in from home then sometimes girls/boys might choose that for themselves, but it definitely wouldn't be promoted by the school.

EmmelineGoulden Tue 29-Jan-13 13:56:37

Santas does your school have a written "ethos", set of values or even an anti-discrimination policy you could use to argue against them? I think, especially with your role of school governor, if you can point to ways your school has officially said it won't act like this it will be easier to get this stopped than having to convince one or more staff that they shouldn't do it.

I am quite shocked - all the teachers I know would find this really unacceptable and I thought that was fairly universal in UK teaching. Worrying that it isn't.

It does have stated 'values' I will have another look at them. I don't think they specifically mention equality type stuff that would really be the right way to get them for this though, IYKWIM.

I more just want to say - please stop perpetrating this princessy nonsense, they get enough of it from external influences without the school joining in and condoning it too.

Skittish Tue 29-Jan-13 14:08:17

I would be cross too. I loathe anyone calling my daughters princesses. They are not., They are kick ass .

RillaBlythe Tue 29-Jan-13 14:16:49

blimey. I would be fuming over this OP.

Great post IMO from kritiq

RillaBlythe Tue 29-Jan-13 14:17:16

PS Did you find out what the boys get?

Startail Tue 29-Jan-13 14:22:36

I'm not mad on Star of the Week and the seniour schools good citizen awards as non of the DCs ever seem to know what they are for.

However, that certificate takes it to a whole new level of awful.
Sexist, patronising rubbish.

I have nothing against Disney type dressing up at home, but taking it in to a mixed school on a day to day basis...

My DDs already have a SAHM and the only male teacher at primary is the HT, neither of which set a wonderful femanist example.

The best to mathematicians in DD2's group are boys and I have to jolly her along to do her best and reiterate that this isn't automaticly the case. It certainly wasn't in my primary class.

I'd be furious if they added this rubbish to the picture. Some of the boys, due in part to a bit of boys will be boys parenting, have a dismissive enough attitude to the girls as it is.

I want DDs who are happy to do activities because they like them not because they are sutible for girls.

fuzzpig Tue 29-Jan-13 14:23:21


At my DCs' school they have a star of the week type thing, totally neutral. It is based around the 6 'rights' that the school places emphasis on (eg "I have the right to be healthy") and when they get SOTW the teacher says which 'right' they have demonstrated and why. Works really well.

Startail Tue 29-Jan-13 14:23:36

Sorry autocorrect seems to have learn't some of my horrible spelling.

Startail Tue 29-Jan-13 14:25:29

Fuzzpig that's great, our lot never seemed to know what their Stars were for, just it was their turn.

fuzzpig Tue 29-Jan-13 14:28:00

I'm really pleased you are confronting this BTW. It's these everyday, seemingly small things that really get into the minds of our children.

feministefatale Tue 29-Jan-13 19:19:02

OP could MNHQ possibly get your name swapped for this thread? And then you could print off these pages for the head to read? It might be helpful for them to see that isn't just one person kicking up a stink over nothing, but it is actually quite obnoxious and offensive.

lisianthus Wed 30-Jan-13 04:43:54

Hells bells. This is beyond awful.

Quite apart from the awful stereotyping, how on Earth does one be princessy in school? There's not much point in an award if the children don't know how to earn it.

NormaStanleyFletcher Sat 02-Feb-13 10:55:23

Did you speak to the school yet OP?

Narked Sat 02-Feb-13 18:19:07

envy Vomit

Just to let you know I haven't forgotten the thread, I have an appt with someone senior tomorrow so I will let you know how it goes.

Ah, great, looking forward to your report back grin

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 06-Feb-13 19:15:17

Me too

Himalaya Wed 06-Feb-13 21:07:02

Good luck with your meeting. This is yukity yuk. I bet the boys are "star knights."

I do wonder though if they might say to you something like "we asked the children what they would like on the certificates and they came up with this", or "we are studying castles this term so it fits with the topic"..... Not that these are good justifications - just trying to imagine what was going through their heads.

I went to the school. It was pretty good actually, HT got where I was coming from and they also have a DD in primary school and they agreed it was not appropriate, they would be hmm if she came home with the same.

The first thing they said, was 'what is it for?' And I said 'Exactly' and we discussed possibly encouraging the teachers to avoid stereotyping in the future. They were not aware of it, it was done solely within the class.

I am happy with it, and they know I will be back if we get any more like this. It was all very civil and pleasant. I might have accidentally mentioned the comma splice too grin

NormaStanleyFletcher Thu 07-Feb-13 16:26:43

Oh well done smile

It is only by standing up and challenging stuff like this that anything will ever change.

Miggsie Thu 07-Feb-13 16:32:06

When I was at primary school it was a very old Victorian building and the door you came out of to go into the playground had "Girls Entrance" carved into the stone. The door you went out of to get to the playing field said "Boys Entrance" carved into the stone. We thought it was funny - we all used both entrances.

Our teacher explained that in those old, old days boys and girls were not allowed to mix and the girls could only learn needlework, and how dreadful that was, and how we had all moved on since then. This was in the 70's.

Sometimes I look and think we have since gone backwards in terms of gender segregation.

fuzzpig Thu 07-Feb-13 16:58:12

Excellent result OP, well done grin

I think (hope) WhispersofWickedness is right. Or perhaps they're being ironic? Seems to me to be a case of bowing to the lowest common denominator.

Great result,.well done op.

Great result, OP smile

Sarah - I think you must mean what Himalaya said, I haven't said anything even remotely insightful ever on this thread grin

EmmelineGoulden Thu 07-Feb-13 22:40:18

Great work OP!

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