Should we run a mile?(8 Posts)
Went to look round a boarding school today which was really great. Right up to moment I asked our guide (lower 6th boy) "What one thing would you change about the school?" to which he answered "the hierarchy amongst the boys."
Should we run run run? Would this comment worry you? This is ds number one choice of school.
I'm trying to think of a reasonable explanation that covers his answer and can't really. Unless he is annoyed at not being picked to be a Prefect or Head Boy? It has vaguely sinister or at least bullying undertones. Did you ask him to elaborate?
I would think that all schools have the cool boys and the not so cool boys.
It may be a positive thing that he articulates it, rather than it being a real problem with the school, iyswim.
I did go on to ask how bullying is dealt with, which he said he didn't consider it to be a a big problem, but there are plenty of adults or mentors to talk to, and the staff are pretty good at spotting any problems, which to his knowledge are sorted out.
He seemed pretty honest and genuine, but ds was with me so I didn't want to push the hierarchy thing too much.
Surely 'fagging' is long gone???
Well a similar comment could have been made at my DCs state primary. They deal with bullying fine.
The problem is that in each year group there is a group of children (usually bright, self-confident and high achieving) who are the "chosen" and seem to get to do lots of special things. They get the lead parts in the school play, represent the school at various events, usually get identified as G&T, don't have special needs, have their achievements celebrated in assemblies and newsletters, go on Commelius trips and have their photos around school and in prospectuses.
In contrast other children may achieve as highly or higher but not be widely celebrated, get supporting roles in school plays etc.
I have now taken to looking for photos of less attractive children in prospectuses (as well as if the photos actually change much).
Boys are hierarchical where you come depends on the individual e.g. some are clever some good at sport some shy some over confident some sporty some musical etc and the individual school. I suspect the super bright confident boy is likely t be higher up the pecking order in a non sporty super selective than a shy but bright cricket play, a sporty boy whose in the 1st 15/11/8 higher up the pecking order in a very sporty school that the flugel horn player.
OP you have to remember that you are only hearing one boys point of view my DS2 hated his boarding prep towards the end and wouldn't have had a good thing to say about it but he had freinds who loved it.
Finally in my very extensive experience bullying is taken very seriously at boarding schools much more seriously that at day schools. I personally know of no school where fagging still officially exists.
I think all schools of certainly junior upwards would have an unofficial hierachy.
Generally the loud confident (I wouldn't include bright in this particularly, they may be in here, but just as likely in other groups) possible sporty are at the top. What we always referred to as the "in crowd". Often very cliquey, doing a lot outside school together. Often the group that pushes boundries as well. And the group that's often most likely to have a huge row and split off into rival factions.
Then the quietly confident. More often paired off into smaller friendship groups. I would say they're quite often the ones picked by teachers. Often the ones who enthusiastically join clubs etc.
Then the ones who keep under the radar. They may be shy, not particularly good or bad at anything. They are usually in small friendship groups. Don't particularly choose to join in with things.
Lastly the loners. May be very bright, or really struggling academically. May have some reason why they don't appeal to their peers. May be bullied. May be just left alone. May be miserable at not being in a freindship group, or may really not care. May sometimes tag along with another group, but not generally the in crowd. May really be in this group simply because they don't fit in with any of the others. Or may be desperately trying to join a group but being constantly rebuffed.
Vast generalisation here. But in my experience it is unusual for much movements between groups once the groups have settled, although friendships inside groups may alter.
You could learn a certain amount from the head's reaction to repeating what the lad said to you. Make sure you say that you specifically asked him to say one thing to change about the school (really good question btw) and see what he says.
With the usual caveat about generalisations, DeWe's groups are about right. The jocks are the top of the hierarchy, they are the ones that others are complaining about. Your guide was probably in the second category - "often the ones picked by teachers" to do Open Days. Of course he is going to complain about them, especially if the First XV are currently de-mob happy and up to 'pranks'. Or perhaps he is miffed because he was overlooked for Prefect next year?
The fact that he felt confident enough to express his concern is actually a good thing; if matters were that bad then he wouldn't even dare to mention it. Note that he said that his problem was his peers, not the school, and every year's cohort has its own particular character.
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