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Thinking about boys in school


The Sunday Times announced that the leading independent preparatory school of 2006 was Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' Preparatory School in Elstree, Hertfordshire. The pupil body, which leads the nation’s schools in mathematics, English, and science, is a third Hindu, a third Jewish and a third Christian.

The primary school preparation of the pupils must have been crucial to their success, and it seems certain many of the boys came from faith schools which have done so well in the Sunday Times' top 500, which David writes about below. But something else is involved as well.

What makes boys tick?

There is another idea here that can't be overlooked. Head Teacher Yvonne Mercer attributes the school's success to the staff knowing "what makes young boys tick - they involve them in practical ways such as making motorised cars or flying handmade helicopters from the balcony in science. You can teach them design, physics, history and teamwork and they think it is fun."

When I hear about boys wedged into classes, forced to conform and fed the latest educational idiocies, their bodies aching because their school fields have been sold. . .when I hear about boys who remind me of Tom Sawyer being fed drugs so they'll sit still and fit in, I am enraged at the outrages committed against them, and against all of us who desperately need them to become men we can love and count on.

Haberdashers' would not have been the school for me. It seems doubtful I would ever have mustered the necessary mathematics skills, but I would certainly have liked the theatrical sword fights, and it does sound as if it has some very good ideas for teaching boys.