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Headmaster’s Blog 1 August 2011

August 1, 2011

The Headmaster of Eton College warned recently that schools were failing to meet the emotional needs of boys. This was followed by an instructive article in ‘The Times’ (Saturday, July 16th) entitled – ‘The trouble with boys – they’re more vulnerable than you think’. 

At Ballard we do tend to find that it is boys, especially teenage ones, who end up in detention much more than girls. Whilst they are now performing almost equally as well as girls at GCSE, it can be a struggle getting them there! The ‘Times’ article had plenty of helpful advice for parents and it was the following (with particular reference to the 14-plus age group) which struck a chord with me:

It is not OK to spend hours in isolation with technology and this should not simply be written off as “teen behaviour”. While it may not be the natural instinct, it is as important to set boundaries for teen behaviour as for the younger child. Family days, mealtimes, and occasions are important as is a balanced media/technology diet. Just because they are teens doesn’t mean that they can’t be told “no” (and if “no” doesn’t work, turn off the household internet router).

Sound advice, in my view, as was the rest of the article by Professor Tanya Byron which emphasized the significance of healthy relationships for boys, not least the importance of appropriate male role models. Gender stereotypes tend to stress that boys should not cry and should ‘laugh it off’ when a relationship breaks down. In my experience as a teacher, it is also important for boys to have ‘permission’ to be sad and to be confident about expressing their feelings appropriately and within the context of a caring, family, setting. When the relationship breakdown is within the family then I hope that our pupils, both boys and girls, will feel comfortable enough to discuss their concerns confidentially with our Matron, School Counselor, trusted teacher or Form Tutor. I hope, too, that parents will find us approachable and supportive whenever there is an ‘issue’ with their young people with which we can help. Staff at Ballard are here to help pastorally and socially as well as educationally.

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