Dr Ken Harland said, ‘We are dealing with the fact that schools are failing boys. 70% of learning is outside school, meaning it takes a community to educate a child. The first step is to simply talk to boys about their needs.’ He continued to discuss the impact low engagement has on the boys as adults and their communities, saying, ‘40% of boys entering secondary school are unable to read and write. They have reduced social skills, verbal skills and feel marginalised. This has an emotional impact on them and the people around them, eventually leading to increased problems in mental health, wellbeing and suicide.’
Taking Boys Seriously was a longitudinal study that involved an academically strong methodology in order to use the boys’ feedback as a form of data called qualitative, which is less about facts and figures and more about opinions and experiences. Dr Harland said, ‘We really wanted to hear the voice of the boys and learn about their lives and their issues. We questioned 400 boys in 9 primary schools and the boys responded well.’
As part of moving forward, Dr Harland and Sam McCready discussed their rewrite of the ‘Three Rs’ and suggested they stand for: responsibility, respect and relationship. They told delegates to think about improving incentives, boundaries and the boys’ ability to enjoy movement.
The seminar was interactive and the intention was to help Plymouth professionals build a network, remain in contact and support one another – it became a key networking event for people working in this field. The delegates were asked to share experiences and one spoke of a school reunion and meeting a previously excluded pupil who managed to graduate as a mature student.
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