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Ponderings on the princessy crap from primary school

(73 Posts)
SantasHairyBollock Mon 28-Jan-13 11:24:28

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

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.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 28-Jan-13 22:09:53

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SantasHairyBollock Mon 28-Jan-13 22:21:21

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

SantasHairyBollock Mon 28-Jan-13 22:21:55

I have a feeling it should be a colon though?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SantasHairyBollock Mon 28-Jan-13 22:59:46

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.

SantasHairyBollock Mon 28-Jan-13 23:00:58

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?

SantasHairyBollock Tue 29-Jan-13 13:16:29

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.

SantasHairyBollock Tue 29-Jan-13 14:02:39

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

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