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AIBU to be concerned about house master in a girls boarding house?

(22 Posts)
user1469360472 Sun 09-Sep-18 23:02:51

Senior school girls'boarding house has appointed a house master for the junior girls boarding house. There are 2 house mistresses alongside this role so he's not the only one.

I'm going to speak to the head of boarding as I don't think this is appropriate but I want an awareness of how prevalent this is in the UK. I'm not overly familiar with the education system in this country. I went to a boarding school abroad and gender of house master/mistress always matched the gender of the boarding students they were appointed to oversee.

Are you all familiar with this or do I sound like I'm from the dark ages or something?

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MrsChollySawcutt Sun 09-Sep-18 23:13:10

At DDs school the heads of the girls houses and the other house staff are all women.

DS has just started Boarding so I don't know all the staff of the boys houses yet. The head of his current house is a woman (lives in the house flat with her husband who is also on the staff) supported by. mix of male and female staff.

user1469360472 Sun 09-Sep-18 23:23:32

Thanks, Mrs Chilly.

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user1469360472 Sun 09-Sep-18 23:24:12

Oops. Cholly!

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FrameyMcFrame Mon 10-Sep-18 04:23:35

I was a boarder at a well known independent school. We had house parents who were a married couple (woman and man). All the house assistants were female.
I think that's fairly normal?

stellabird Mon 10-Sep-18 04:53:03

My DD teaches at a girl's school and they have all house mistresses for the boarders. I personally wouldn't be happy with a male in that role .

wurzelburga Mon 10-Sep-18 07:59:25

We have had boarders for the past 10 years. It is the norm to have a mixture of male and female staff in the boarding houses - they are often described as “house parents” at junior level. At senior levell there is usually a male house master in the boys houses and a female housemistress in a girls house. The house masters are almost always married with children of their own (because some parents are dubious about single mean in pastoral roles) which means that their wives also live in the house even if they are not paid by the school. House mistresses used to be predominantly single women but that has now changed and most have male partners living with them. (Obviously all partners and any older children need enhanced DBS if they are living with staff in the house) Depending on the size of the house there are several other house staff (mixed sex) around in the evenings to help with prep/run other activities. House master/mistress do not work every night though will be in call. There are also other staff sleeping in the house at night.

A male member of staff in a girls house will never be in dormitories/bedrooms alone with older girls and will be very careful to ensure that his behaviour could not be misinterpreted. You might get a man involved in waking the children up/putting lights out in a junior (8+) dorm but there will always be a woman around if the girls need one.

I think you need to identify exactly what you are worried about before you speak to the school. Are you worried about the behaviour of a particular man? Or is this a generic concern about men around your DD? There are potentially lots of opportunities for adults to abuse children in a school setting. This is why they are now so tightly regulated.

CherryPavlova Mon 10-Sep-18 08:03:55

Ours had a housemistresses but thee were male tutors in and out most evenings. The housemistresses we’re often married so their husbands were around.
Wh is it an issue f there are women’s to go to?

user1469360472 Mon 10-Sep-18 08:34:06

Thanks for your replies.. Initial reaction is that I'm uncomfortable and unfamiliar with it and want to understand how widespread it is. Just alarm bells at this point and I don't like to ignore alarm bells. I attended an open day a few years ago at a prestigious girls boarding school where the headmistress made a point of mentioning that all boarding staff were female and I remember thinking, well of course.

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Oratory1 Mon 10-Sep-18 09:01:46

The housemaster/housemistress plays a huge role in a borders life and sets the tone in the house. I would have thought their skill/character is far more important than whether male or female (providing of course there are a mix of genders available for dc to go to should they wish). I would also have thought it healthy not to necessarily have a totally all female environment. A while ago DD1 had a brilliant, lovely, inspirational acting housemaster. He and his wife were not appointed permanently as some if the parents would have objected. The girls were hugely disappointed and the subsequent appointment was poor by comparison.

ksb76 Mon 10-Sep-18 09:50:10

My daughter has houseparents (married couple) in her girls boarding house, with a team of female tutors and assistants under them. They have a family themselves so would never have occurred to me that the female house shouldn’t have a male houseparent. In the same vein, my son also has houseparents (again married couple) and a team of male tutors. I think it actually works brilliantly to bring another viewpoint to these houses.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 10-Sep-18 09:59:55

As far as I know, it's common to have female house parents in mixed schools and boys' schools, so I can't see a case against having a man in the position in a girls' school.

Roomba Mon 10-Sep-18 10:03:51

At least one of the housemasters/parents at DS's school is female. And at least one of the male housemasters is married and their wife lives there too - she works in the school anyway so is a familiar face. I'm not sure of how many of the staff are female as DS is a day boy. I've not had to think about much, but I'd have no objection to these arrangements if he was a boarder.

user1469360472 Mon 10-Sep-18 10:20:23

The house mistress also has a live-in husband but I've not seen him in the girls boarding house. I believe he helps out on school trips, for example and I'm not uncomfortable with that.
Come to think of it, I wouldn't be concerned about a female house mistress in a boys boarding house but hard for me to tell as I have no sons.
This house master is in the boarding house and is quite comfortable with the girls from what I see.

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ThreeAnkleBiters Mon 10-Sep-18 20:46:05

I think there should always be a same sex boarding house master/mistress but it's fairly common for there also to be an opposite sex one too. This is surely good and healthy. Girls need caring male role models too.

ShalomJackie Wed 12-Sep-18 12:57:23

If you aren't comfortable send your child elsewhere. I am hoping that you do realise they will not change their staff just to suit you. I am unsure what you are implying but if your cultural difference is not being catered for you would be better off going to a school that does.

user1469360472 Wed 12-Sep-18 13:15:22

Thank you Shalom, that's very helpful.

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user1469360472 Wed 12-Sep-18 13:24:19

Thanks everyone for your replies. I realise that this occurs in some schools and not in others, each with varying reasons.
I had the chat with the school and simply stated that I was uncomfortable and wanted to understand his role better. Head of boarding was very understanding and went into detail about safeguarding controls in place (which are quite a few), benefits he brings and has brought many years previously when the school had a head master for a period of time prior to my DD joining. She was very open and offered to have more discussion if needed.
The meeting was reassuring and I think this is the mark of a good school, the way they handled my concerns and the controls they have. I was particularly impressed that she didn't say, "so what exactly are you uncomfortable about?" But simply proceeded to address all the potential concerns that a parent might have when a male plays a leading role in a female boarding house. I'm sure I'm not the first parent to have such concerns and she's been head of boarding for almost two decades.

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neffall Sat 15-Sep-18 03:43:36

Is the school girls only?

MrsTerryPratchett Sat 15-Sep-18 04:50:36

As far as I know, it's common to have female house parents in mixed schools and boys' schools, so I can't see a case against having a man in the position in a girls' school.

Oh please. Pretending that men don't frequently abuse positions like this is so disingenuous. Great that there is safeguarding in place here. But really, "what could the issue possibly be?" In a week in which 3600 children were reported to have been abused by German catholic priests over the last decades.

FlipnTwist Sun 16-Sep-18 17:30:16

How are you going to raise this concern without insinuating he might be an abuser, and how do you think the school would now be able to relieve him of this position without getting into all sorts of employment and discrimination law issues?

bookgirl1982 Sun 16-Sep-18 17:35:55

It is still rare. Benenden was the first only a few years ago. More common to have a couple as house parents at junior age range.

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