What is it to be a Good Man?

What is it to be a good man?

Leading a boy’s school has its challenges in the modern age. 150 years ago it would have been an almost obvious truism that schools were for boys. Of course they were – why did girls need to worry about education and all that sort of thing? Thankfully society has, rather too slowly really, updated itself and gender equality in education and elsewhere is understood to be a bedrock of our values and an issue when it goes wrong. On the journey, mostly in late Victorian times, there was the girl’s school movement. Everyone can rehearse the importance of prioritising the education of girls in a Girls’ School. I would argue (and leading one you might think I should) that there are just as many reasons today for the importance of Boys’ schools and those that remain are not just left over from a previous age.

First there are the obvious facts. The exam results of boys, on average, are lower. Their development is slower. HE entry is increasingly showing larger numbers of girls than boys. As we all enjoy the exciting and long awaiting outcomes of proper equality for girls we do need to be careful not to overlook for too long the emerging issues for boys and especially ‘working class’ boys. The data is clear, presented by, amongst others, the Sutton Trust.

Then there is the issue of role models. It is simply a fact that teaching, and especially Primary School teaching, is an increasingly female occupation. It was a problem when the teaching profession was dominated by men. It will also be a problem when it is dominated by women. A balance of role models is needed. And never has it been needed more. Every day the media tells young boys what not to do, how not to behave, what they must not be, how they must not feel and what they must not think.

It is time for that narrative to become more positive. For society to talk about what a good man is, to find examples and to work out how to model those to young people. I have no doubt that Boys’ schools will lead that work because of their expertise in guiding young men into their place in society.

About Philip Britton

Philip Britton is the Head of Foundation of Bolton School. He was brought up on Tyneside, took a first in physics at Oxford and did teacher training at Cambridge. He worked as physics teacher, Head of Physics and Deputy Head at Leeds Grammar School before moving to Bolton in 2008. In 2010 he was awarded an MBE for services to physics and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics where he has been much involved in physics education, encouraging teachers to encourage the next generation of physicists. Follow at X: @Philip_Britton | View X/Twitter archive | Listen at: Exploring Bolton School | Social Mobility, Leadership & Future School Thinking | Strategic School Leadership with Philip Britton | Strategic School Leadership with Philip Britton