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All-girl line-up is letdown for boys

PUBLISHED: 11:46 23 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:57 01 August 2010

I'M all for girl power. Demeaning and ridiculing spotty boys with an armory of put-downs was teenage sport for me.

Girls should rule the world, I believed at 15. But then it was a boys' world.

I'M all for girl power. Demeaning and ridiculing spotty boys with an armory of put-downs was teenage sport for me.

Girls should rule the world, I believed at 15. But then it was a boys' world. But times have changed and headteacher Tim Phillips is clearly a girls' world type of guy. But I'm not happy.

Mr Phillips has scrapped the head boy's post this year at his Norfolk high school and appointed two head girls instead. No boy was up to the job, he said. Girl power with knobs on.

And he didn't just snub boys for the top post; he appointed two deputy head girls too. No wonder the male prefects have jettisoned their prefect jerseys and gone on strike. They might as well leave the building. Would anyone notice?

Despite many applications from boys, none were selected after interview. If Mr Philips truly believes not one boy was role model enough then he has failed. He and his staff have failed to nurture and encourage leadership and responsibility in those boys who showed the flair to lead.

Failed to address that insidious reluctance to work hard, lead or shine in anything constructive in fear of being labelled a 'geek' that plagues troubles boys. But Mr Phillips can award himself an A* for adding to the disaffected, thwarted and crushed nature of boys punished throughout their school years just for being boys.

After flying the flag for female equality for most of my life, mothering two boys brought a sharp wake-up call. The plight of the boy is not a happy one. Boys are being failed. My pink flag is now firmly swapped for blue - and it is waved frantically.

Everything about the education system is geared towards girls, marginalising boys, making them strugglers, invisible. The very essence of boy is being stamped on until their spirit is shattered and they have no idea who they are or what they are supposed to be.

Teachers love girls. To do well, boys have to be like girls, work and think like them. Of course they don't. Why should they? At primary school, they have to sit still, look cute, read girly books, write girly stories and colour in.

I remember trying to keep a straight face when a teacher explained her concerns about my son's inability to colour in neatly. He could read and add up but colouring in between the lines was a “waste of time”.

No wonder so many boys and young men are screwed up. Not that boys' schools are any better, turning out youths with no idea how to talk to a woman, let alone have a relationship with one.

I've watched boys be restrained, criticised and thwarted - just for doing what comes naturally. Being boisterous, challenging, noisy and competitive. The world needs challenging and competitive.

So Mr Phillips, I am enraged. Even more so because I know boys going into year 11 at that school who would make marvellous head boys.

Boys, even more than girls, need strong role models. Why would any parent want to send their boy to a school with solely girls leading the student body? You'd ask serious questions, wouldn't you? Do boys count? Apparently not on Mr Phillips watch.

One of the head girls couldn't wait for a dig. “I do have some sympathy for the boys (like hell, she does) but at the end of the day the best people got it.” Not a role model for humility then, girl.

Governors should ask serious questions. Parents of boys should be concerned.

Two sexes make up life and both deserve an equal chance. Boys deserve better.

I'M all for girl power. Demeaning and ridiculing spotty boys with an armory of put-downs was teenage sport for me.

Girls should rule the world, I believed at 15. But then it was a boys' world.

But times have changes and headteacher Tim Phillips is clearly a girls' world type of guy. But I'm not happy.

Mr Phillips has scrapped the head boy's post this year at his high school and appointed two head girls instead. No boy was up to the job, he said. Girl power with knobs on.

And he didn't just snub boys for the top post; he appointed two deputy head girls too. No wonder the male prefects have jettisoned their prefect jerseys and gone on strike. They might as well leave the building. Would anyone notice?

Despite many applications from boys, none were selected after interview. If Mr Philips truly believes not one boy was role model enough then he has failed. He and his staff have failed to nurture and encourage leadership and responsibility in those boys who showed the flair to lead. Failed to address that insidious reluctance to work hard, lead or shine in anything constructive in fear of being labelled a 'geek' that plagues troubles boys.

But Mr Phillips can award himself an A* for adding to the disaffected, thwarted and crushed nature of boys punished throughout their school years just for being boys.

After flying the flag for female equality for most of my life, mothering two boys brought a sharp wake-up call. The plight of the boy is not a happy one. Boys are being failed. My pink flag is now firmly swapped for blue - and it is waved frantically.

Everything about the education system is geared towards girls, marginalising boys, making them strugglers, invisible. The very essence of boy is being stamped on until their spirit is shattered and they have no idea who they are or what they are supposed to be.

Teachers love girls. To do well, boys have to be like girls, work and think like them. Of course they don't. Why should they? At primary school, they have to sit still, look cute, read girly books, write girly stories and colour in.

I remember trying to keep a straight face when a teacher explained her concerns about my son's inability to colour in neatly. He could read and add up but colouring in between the lines was a “waste of time.”

No wonder so many boys and young men are screwed up. Not that boys' schools are any better, turning out youths with no idea how to talk to a woman let alone have a relationship with one.

I've watched boys be restrained, criticised and thwarted - just for doing what comes naturally. Being boisterous, challenging, noisy and competitive. The world needs challenging and competitive.

So Mr Phillips, I am enraged. Even more so because I know boys going into Year 11 at that school who would make marvellous head boys.

Boys, even more than girls, need strong role models. Why would any parent want to send their boy to a school with solely girls leading the student body? You'd ask serious questions, wouldn't you? Do boys count? Apparently not on Mr Phillips watch.

One of the head girls couldn't wait for a dig. “I do have some sympathy for the boys (like hell, she does) but at the end of the day the best people got it.' Not a role model for humility then, girl.

Governors should ask serious questions. Parents of boys should be concerned.

Two sexes make up life and both deserve an equal chance. Boys deserve better.

Portly Eamonn Holmes turned distinctly uncuddly when he sent a legal letter to the BBC after Jon Culshaw made jokes about his weight in his comedy show.

This is the man who sold his wedding photos to Hello! He can't have it both ways.

One of the best lessons in success is learning to laugh at yourself. To take yourself seriously means you're forever teetering on the brink of a fall.

Lighten up, Eamonn. Perhaps not the best choice of word.

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The 100,000 mothers pushed back into work by the recession would probably love to tell hard-nosed Karren Brady where to shove her laptop.

As the credit crunch takes away the choice for mothers to stay at home - stay at home mums have dropped by 97,000 in the three years of the crunch - and money is the biggest issue for families, women are going back to work, guilty, torn, exhausted and anxious. Good childcare doesn't come cheap. For many it isn't a choice; it's necessity.

Many go back because their husbands were made redundant, leaving the men at home with all the chaos that brings. Men just can't 'get' multi-tasking. Child care, housework and cooking all at once bamboozles them so they concentrate on one thing leaving women with two full-time jobs, facing their second when they get home.

For Brady to whimper about her shame at returning to work three days after giving birth because she feared for career won't endear her to them.

Nor will her revelation that she has taken just three holidays - and that includes her honeymoon - in 15 years with her daughter and son, now 14 and 11.

Most women want to spend as much time as they can with their children.

Brady is no ordinary woman. Let's not forget she was a WAG, married to one of her team at Birmingham City who is now a football manager.

She can say now she is shamed -she probably had full-time help and still time for her nails and a massage to unwind at the end of the day.

Most of us lose track of what day of the week it is. And we would all do anything to spend more time with our children.

Several women I know are worried sick about the future.

Their husbands and partners worked at SLP. They were being laid off. Memories of the previous lay off and hard time laid heavy on their minds.

“I don't know how we got through that. I'd hate to think we'll have to do it again,” said one.

As they make economies, disappoint their children and worry, the last SLP project, nine storeys of five star luxury offshore accommodation floated off to sea, the fine work of skilled craftsman facing life on the dole. They stayed to the end to get the job done to the highest standard, with professionalism and dedication.

Sadly, the town has seen it all before - SLP, Richards, Brooke Marine and more. All those skills gone to waste.

Loyal workforces sent home for good. This must not happen to SLP.

There are enough skills and the work ethic in Lowestoft to give potential buyers and customers supreme confidence.

It's the time of the year when those of us lacking in the green-fingered department feel sorely embarrassed.

Other people's vegetable patches groan with organic produce, gardens blaze in colour and borders are perfect curves.

I am the curse of anything that grows. I murder plants, can't tell one John Innes from another not a cyclamen from a rhododendron.

At least allotment holder Suzy Miller had a go.

But the allotment Gestapo deemed Miss Miller's lack of green fingers unfit for purpose and ordered her off her allotment because her crop was too puny.

Juggling a business with three children and broccoli, cabbage and carrots, single parent Miss Miller did her best

If behind the scenes at some flower and produce shows are anything to go by, those who commune with the land are anything but gentle.

And most have little else to do than tend an allotment. The profile of single working mum with three young children and an interest in organic veg probably got them gunning for her before they even saw the state of her beetroot.

I can see the future - and it's crowded.

Students living at home to take two-year degrees with no job at the end.

Fast forward a decade and extended families are crammed in to one house like centuries ago.

The only difference is that these households will be highly educated. And this is supposed to be progress.

At our “everyone's a winner” primary school sports day, fierce competition couldn't be kept down.

Sharpened elbows, tactics and hard training were in evidence - not in the boys' three-legged race but when the teacher called the parents' race.

Most of the children couldn't care less who won or lost their contests.

But for the parents - especially the alpha-male fathers - winning was all that mattered.

The fathers limbered up for the 100 metre, psyching each other out. The winner - apparently from the same stable as Usain Boult - crouched in a proper starting position, making a sign of the cross on his chest before the teacher blew the whistle.

He found easy glory in the line-up of eight dads on the field of a village primary with 130 pupils but also much ridicule among the mums.

It just shows; schools might try to programme our children to be uncompetitive but their parents just can't help themselves.

Selina Scott can stop whingeing about the lack of older women on TV -

Ann Widdecombe is to grace Strictly Come Dancing.

Selina's campaign to get older women on TV is tired and transparent. When she talks about older women, she really means herself.

Has she ever thought that other women over 50 might have had enough of being preened and lacquered to stare at an autocue in the bitchy world of prima donnas and petulant presenters and prefer to do something else?

Being “on tele” with all the nonsense that brings is a bit vacuous for women with more challenging lives to pursue.

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