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A question please.

(22 Posts)
Roseformeplease Fri 09-Sep-16 17:11:14

I wondered if people would be able to help me to clarify my thoughts on something at the school where I work.

We are tiny (remote, rural Scotland) and so don't do what lots of schools do. There has been a rather sudden move to have a prefect system. I am actually pretty opposed to the idea because, currently, all senior pupils get involved.

However, the person pushing this has purchased badges for a "Head Boy" and a "Head Girl" and this makes me uncomfortable. I think, "Senior Pupil" or "Head Prefect" but I don't like jobs with "girl" on them.

Another issue is our size means there are often huge imbalances between both sexes. One year group was 2m/15f and one was 6m/20f with another 6f/20m.

I am going to need to argue in a meeting and could do with some ammo. I raised this informally today and the people present (all female, if it matters) laughed at me for thinking it matters although they agree with my opposition to a prefect system for our school.

Shallishanti Fri 09-Sep-16 17:18:22

well if there's also a head boy I think you are onto a loser-
I think you could argue that boy/girl are not appropriate for roles that are about maturity/leadership- but head boy/girl is a traditional and well understood term. Unless there are gender issues in the appointment or duties I don't think it's a big issue. Save your energies for when they are needed.

Roseformeplease Fri 09-Sep-16 17:35:28

But surely first filtering for sex, and then appointing is unfair? What if the best 2 are both girls, or both boys?

If we did this for 2 job vacancies it would be illegal.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blistory Fri 09-Sep-16 17:45:15

Do you have to have 2 positions ? It seems a bit daft to have a Head Boy if potentially he only has one boy "to head" and vice versa.

Do the people who want both roles think that the pupils will bring anything different to the position just because of their sex ?

We don't need to have a male and female prime minister because, let's face it, one is more than enough. So why two pupils to do what is effectively one role ?

If they're pushing for it, make them come up with the arguments in support of it. I suspect the arguments won't have merit and that you'd easily be able to deal with them in a debate.

I'd want one position, filled on merit and monitor it to ensure that there isn't any bias that creeps in in terms of which sex of pupil is appointed.

Or you could canvas the opinions of the pupils - that could be interesting.

Roseformeplease Fri 09-Sep-16 17:54:56

Thanks. I think one only is my preference, perhaps with a deputy or just 2 to "job share".

I can't see a reason why sex has to come into it.

The problem is anything which sounds "feminist" or talks about sex/gender seems to merit a laugh and a mad woman badge!

AgeingArtemis Fri 09-Sep-16 18:21:51

At my school we had a head prefect and a deputy head prefect. Generally this involved a boy and a girl (in whichever order), but if appropriate, very occasionally 2 boys or 2 girls were appointed. My year group was 150, so not a size of year group thing either.

Could this be a solution? Or alternatively only have one head prefect, but make a proper effort to have equal number of boys and girls given the job. It doesn't have to be strictly alternating though, that would be silly!

tribpot Fri 09-Sep-16 18:25:44

My ds' school has a Head Boy and Head Girl but it is a huge secondary of c.1000 pupils and a fairly evenly split demographic. In your school it is ludicrous to have two positions of authority (full stop but certainly where it's one of each gender) as the competition for the posts is unfair.

JacquettaWoodville Fri 09-Sep-16 18:30:02

I can see your concern. Schools often use sex as a quick short hand to get a roughly 50:50 split (instead of, say, surname in first half of alphabet) where splitting by any other protected characteristic would be not on (atheists/theists etc)

JacquettaWoodville Fri 09-Sep-16 18:30:57

If this is a recent suggestion, what was the set up before?

Comejointhemurder Fri 09-Sep-16 18:32:17

I think the question is - if they went for a 'head prefect' and 'deputy prefect' system and both were given to males; would you think that fair?. Would you think they would adequately understand the issues relevant to all pupils and represent them?.

If you don't then I assume you would say the same if both roles were given to females?. If you wouldn't then you are being completely unfair. So a 'head' representing each sex seems to be the way to go.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 09-Sep-16 18:32:56

My dcs' school made it a formal application process for the posts of head boy and girl but in the event they felt none of the boys were appointable so they had two girls. Just as well no-one had ordered any badges!

Roseformeplease Fri 09-Sep-16 19:00:42

Set up before was nothing. Pupils would take on jobs, or volunteer for things. So, for example, we have a big fundraiser and a couple get involved with publicity, a couple with baking, washing up, putting out chairs. Usually, everyone mucks in and it gets done. People play to their strengths. If someone is needed to welcome a visitor or help a younger pupil then we know all the older pupils well (about 20-25 per year group) so would just find a best fit, or ask for a volunteer.

As for having just boys, or just girls, if that happened (as it very well might) then they would be representing other pupils, not their sex. We also have an (elected) pupil council of 2 per year group and this is really meant to be where issues are aired - so, girls can e.g. raise issues with their toilets, lack of sports fixtures etc.

But, we are really tiny so most things just get aired as and when and pupils think nothing of heading off to see the Head if they have an issue.

Roseformeplease Fri 09-Sep-16 19:02:07

Also, last year there were only 2 boys in the year (very diffident, poor attendance and so forth). How do you choose 1 of those and then justify picking between the 14 or so girls for the HGirl position?

HairyLittlePoet Fri 09-Sep-16 19:09:06

a very tiny point; when I was once a prefect in the dark ages, part of my job responsibility was to check whether pupils were getting up to mischief in the toilets (smoking etc)

That's a possible reason why you might need one of each sex?

Bluebolt Fri 09-Sep-16 19:15:05

The biggest problem I envisage is when a person(s) is not suitable but the only available choice could they deal with selection or not being selected. A child with low self esteem who would struggle but would equally feel a failure if passed over. A situation that would be avoided if gender is removed.

Roseformeplease Tue 27-Sep-16 09:46:09

I won!!! They agreed, without any fight at all, that the job titles will be gender neutral. Thus we have Head and Deputy Head Prefect (or similar) and both jobs open to everyone. Thanks all. You helped me to clarify my thoughts. Interestingly, the Head agreed with me on the grounds of limited numbers of either boys or girls in a year (and therefore limited choices if job were limited to one gender). He took issue with the idea that this could send the wrong message to girls (and boys, but girls are still, IMO, more often overlooked). I wasn't at the meeting but wanted to shout "Male Privilege" at him when I read the minutes....... He doesn't see a problem - so there isn't a problem.

ChocChocPorridge Tue 27-Sep-16 11:15:52

Hairy - that's the reason my school had both, because (rightly or wrongly) - one of their jobs was to supervise the toilets....

Well done Rose though! Much more sensible given the limited and often skewed ratios at your school.

JacquettaWoodville Tue 27-Sep-16 22:41:34

Good one!

VestalVirgin Wed 28-Sep-16 20:39:49

I think it is more sensible to have one of each sex, as boys having authority over girls is something that is ... well. Problematic. Especially if supervising the toilets is part of the job, of course.

Not sure you did the girls a favour here - it is possible that the positions will always be given to boys, because of sexism, something that a position of head girl would have ensured wouldn't happen.

Roseformeplease Wed 28-Sep-16 21:20:50

But, last year, there were 2 boys, 15 girls (ish) to choose from. In DD's year there are 16 boys, 8 girls. We seem to have very uneven year groups.

Also, I want DD to aspire to be the best, not be the best girl.

And, no toilet duties or anything that can't be done by either boys or girls. Mostly a lot of hand-shaking, showing people round, motivating etc.

I feel very proud of my efforts. I do not believe the jobs would go to the boys because, in the whole, the girls are more motivated and often more mature. I actually think we will have to watch it the other way and make sure that boys are given the chance to shine.

We have a Sports Leader course - open to all. It is almost exclusively taken by girls. Probably about 4 to 1.

Doobigetta Thu 29-Sep-16 16:41:31

I don't think I agree with you there, Vestal. Both boys and girls are going to have to learn and accept that the chances are both men and women will have authority over them at some point. I don't see any benefit in pretending otherwise. And creating a Head Girl role on the grounds that girls may otherwise be overlooked is making it a second best- consolation prize. That reinforces unequal treatment, it doesn't remove it. If it turns out further down the line that girls are not being considered fairly for the role, that's a different issue to be dealt with. You don't address the glass ceiling in the workplace by creating "Lady Director" roles to sit alongside the (proper, male) directors, do you? There'd be uproar!

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