We cant keep ignoring the issues of boys: Petition to remove the leadership ‘fad’

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Why is Shoreham Academy failing our boys?

Preface: Engaging boys and young men in gender equality of Head and Vice Head Boy/Girl at Shoreham Academy, West Sussex. 

''I am a 14 year old male student at Shoreham Academy and wish to represent the current pupil opinion of Year 10 whom feel mislead and misdirected by the application process of Head/Vice Boy - Girl as communicated via Firefly and student assemblies" - Rocky Redman (Tweet RockyRedmanLand)

Petition Summary and Background:

We’ve worked hard to bridge the gap between genders and we’ve done so with great success....for girls.

What, may we ask, is the purpose of the Head and Vice-Head Boy/Girl if they do not (nay, can not) present the voice of the people they represent in equal share.

The decision of a 3 Girl:1 Boy share within Shoreham Academy (West Sussex) Doyle Pastoral deprives boys of both a voice and an outlet; how else can a boy express their needs and desires if not through some conduit?

Shoreham Academy (West Sussex) is approximately 50:50 boys to girls so thus should be represented as such by the Head & Vice-Head Boy & Girl. A male Head and Vice-Head for the boys and a female Head and Vice-Head for the girls the obvious and ideal situation.

Having same-sex Heads and Vice-Heads aids in the understanding of a lived-experience, it will be very difficult for young teenagers to approach the opposite sex with the difficulties, representations and issues they are facing. 

Handling gender relations

Gender is relation between female and male, embedded within institutions and specific cultural contexts. Male and female need to be considered separately and together, with opportunities for exchange and collaboration. The student leadership initiative fad within the 2018/19 Doyle academic year does not engage. Unequal share blocks change and does not drive forward the peer community in gender relation; it is creating an already visible and unhealthy tension.

The issue

We know that while the women’s movement and the young women’s movement must continue to lead the movement for gender equality, we need to also engage boys and young men to achieve gender equality.

During adolescence and young adulthood, there is a critical period of opportunity to engage boys and young men in understanding why gender equality is good for everyone and recognizing their role in promoting fair empowerment of girls and young women. By using and sharing their power and privilege, boys and young men have the ability to shift the dominant norms and ideas about gender and masculinity, and challenge the patriarchal beliefs, practices, institutions and structures that drive inequality between men and women. For our society to move forward, we need a balance of genders. (Ref 00 - UN Women). It can also create role models who act to promote positive masculine norms.

Our examples of study where male gender needs to be considered in separation:

  • Modern research shows that men and women deal with stress in different ways (Ref 01 and mentioned in Ref 02). In order for individuals to communicate their issues, they need someone whom can understand.
  • Furthermore, boys are struggling in education. As the equal rights charity Parity remarks (Ref 03), boys are suffering “poorer academic achievement than girls, more neurological problems, tacit suppression of emotional difficulties, increasing mental health problems, lack of a positive male role model in many families and classrooms, and for the lowest ranking - a poor future”. This is reflected in academic attainment whereby 13.7% more girls than boys achieve A* + A +B at A-Level (Ref 03). There is a litany of problems boys are facing; they need representation in order for their issues to be heard.
  • The problem of underachieving boys has been recognised by Parliament whom, in report, stated “the attainment “gap” between FSM [Free School Meals] and non-FSM children exists pre-school, and is already larger for white British children by the age of 5 than for other ethnicities (24 percentage points)” (Ref 04). Even when they first enter school life, poorer white boys are disadvantaged.
  • The Department of Justice pointed out in a report from 2012 that barriers to learning appear in primary school, are evident by Year 8, and can continue into later life (Ref 05). As a recommendation, they state “Teacher training should support teachers to understand, recognise and respond to the changing needs of adolescent boys and young men”. This is not being met by denying boys representation at school and relegating them to a subpar standard. 
  • A further recommendation is thus “Each school should offer boys support during key transitional stages such as primary to post-primary school, Key Stage 3, GCSE selection and careers advice”. This recommendation is not being met by depriving boys of equal representation and this must be rectified.

Good Practice

Institutional settings provide important sites and opportunities to transform gender relations and tension. When designing initiatives to engage boys and young men around gender equality, it is also important to consider how to engage with a joined up, unified approach. 

Challenges, solutions and future priorities

The 2018/19 Doyle leadership initiative does not improve gender relations, albeit unintentionally. Positive action needs to be reconsidered to give boys secure and equal outcomes given girls remain to outshine boys academically and the male teaching cohort and representation is low. Consequently the potential message is there is no room for a boys desire to strive, to prove oneself to a group of peers and to show up. The school environment is a microcosm of our future society, mirroring its strengths and ills alike.


This petition is a list of names whom feel the gender imbalance and change to leadership title is unfair. Herby requesting a reapplication and re ballot process for students of Doyle Pastoral in the 2018/19 academic year. It demonstrates a request for a realignment to Head/Vice Boy - Head/Vice Girl, mirroring that of the other pastoral of Kippling and Wells in the historical trend. 

Reference 00: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/youth/engaging-boys-and-young-men-in-gender-equality

Reference 01: http://www.malepsychology.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Author-Version-Gender-differences-in-preferences-for-psychological-treatment.pdf

Reference 02: https://www.bps.org.uk/blogs/dr-john-barry/men-are-able-talk-are-psychologists-able-listen

Reference 03: http://www.parity-uk.org/websiteboyseduMay17rev3.pdf

Reference 04: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmeduc/142/142.pdf

Reference 05: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/doj/taking-boys-seriously-a-longitudinal-study-of-adolescent-male-school-life-experiences-in-northern-ireland-final.pdf






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