Townley Grammar take part in BBC School Report
BBC News Team 2017
Is There A Point To Single-Sex Schools?
Megan Baffoe, Aimen Barlas, Vella Hristova, Ri Nwoha
Education is the vital foundation of any country. It is the most effective way of cultivating young minds into mature, motivated people – those that may make the new discovery of the century, write the next Jane Eyre or finally work out a solution to climate change. Nobody can deny the importance of education– especially in our primary and secondary schools, where children and teenagers learn the basic skills that they will use in their further studies, future careers and everyday life. So, when we send off our youths to school, it’s important to consider – how educational will this school really be?
The actual validity of single-sex schools has been debated since the 20th century, but little has been done. Some believe single-sex schools to be outdated and old-fashioned, based on the remnants of older, patriarchal ideals that still, to some extent, control our daily lives. Others, in turn, believe single-sex schools to be beneficial, both protecting their children and getting the best grades possible from them.
Perhaps the most prominent argument when discussing the advantages of single-sex schools is the idea of ‘distraction’ – that, when faced with those of the opposite sex, students will be unable to function. However, with the rise of the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, this argument begins to deteriorate. Long gone are the days when same-sex marriage was illegal in the UK and “gay” was a dirty word, and with a multitude of gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and more students attending our schools, distraction will be an issue wherever you go. Moreover, many believe girls to be too fickle and/or too emotionally inclined to concentrate in the classroom if they are too busy attempting to attract boys, while those same people perceive boys to be too hormonal and lust-driven to restrain themselves. This argument, as well as being extremely sexist, is unfounded: even in hormonal teenage years, lust and attraction are not medical conditions that cloud all common sense and self-control. As one father remarked online, boys need to be taught that it doesn’t matter if the girl next to them is in a bikini or a burka, it’s their job to sit down and learn their algebra as they should be doing. Teenagers are perfectly capable of restraining themselves, and whether or not they find the person sitting next to them sexually appealing, they should still be able to learn.
At the mention of lessons arises the second argument – that boys and girls “learn differently.” It is a common belief, even in the 21st century, that girls and boys have ‘different minds’. Despite the absurdity of this, statistically, girls and boys have notably diverse attitudes in the classroom.
“We arrive at one of the most robust paradoxes teachers face: the girl who gets straight A's but thinks she's stupid and feels discouraged; the boy who's barely getting B's but thinks he's brilliant... Encourage the girls, build them up, […] give the boys a reality check: make them realize they're not as brilliant as they think they are, and challenge them to do better.” 
While this difference in boys and girls learning is consistent and somewhat worrying, the fact remains that boys and girls do not need to be segregated to understand their own position academically. Independent reflection does not cease to be independent once the opposite sex arrives in the classroom; even in single-sex schools, students will need different forms of encouragement. It is the teacher’s job to deal with each student as they need to be dealt with - sex is not even an issue.
The last common argument for single-sex schools is that sex is an issue. Girls tend to be involved in traditionally male subjects such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or sports in single-sex schools, where they are less afraid of being dominated by men in these areas, despite their capability. Similarly, boys tend to excel in creative subjects such as English, Art and Music when there are no girls, as they are less afraid of being made fun of. A teacher at Townley Grammar remarks that girls are more ‘likely to flourish’ when they are ‘less afraid to share their opinions.’ Despite this, the main goal of our society should be to educate, not separate; instead of removing boys from any female company in order to make them feel validated in their interests, perhaps a better solution to the problem would be to explain to our youths that genitals do not dictate hobbies, careers, or passions. And, instead of building up girls’ confidence on the premise that boys will not be involved in the conversation, we should teach them that their opinions are just as valid as those belonging to anyone of the opposite sex.
“…Boys need to be taught that it doesn’t matter if the girl next to them is in a bikini or a burka, it’s their job to sit down and learn.”
As a further invalidation to the argument, our reporters discovered through interviews that interests in single-sex schools are often squashed through gender roles rather than the opposite, simply because they do not teach traditionally male or female subjects respectively. A student who attends a single-sex (female) school in Bexley that describes themselves as pointedly politically correct, an outspoken feminist activist and a Broadway musical enthusiast, shone light on this issue. ‘At my school, Food Tech and Textiles are compulsory through Years 7 to 9, but those subjects aren’t available to the boys in our partner school,’ they say. ‘The atmosphere is often really toxic in single-sex schools too.’ A mother of a Year Six girl searching for schools commented that she found no single-sex schools for her child offered the option of DT. Even worse, research shows that sex-education in single-sex schools is completely abysmal, particularly for boys. A generation of men that don’t understand how periods work only spells out bad news for female bosses, friends, lovers, employees, colleagues and co-workers when they need to buy a pack of tampons or ask for a short break to put on a new pad.
One thing that people can understand – whatever side of the argument they are on – is that the line isn’t drawn at periods or limited subject options. When only half the world is represented in the place you spend half of your teenage life in, you cannot help but grow up with a skewed world view. In a mixed classroom, gender roles can be torn down, sexist ideals removed and stereotypes challenged: the proportion of the population that are open-minded and educated can only grow. A world of girls who are unafraid to be assertive and confident in their own competence; a world of boys that are not mortified by menstruation and overly defensive about their masculinity. It’s true, single-sex schools can be filled with intelligent minds, excellent teachers, and be, as a whole, prestigious centres of learning. But, there can only be more to gain by allowing their students to learn about the other half of the world that has thus far eluded them.
Donald Trump is a very controversial person but most notably a business man who has used tactics to win the presidency. He kick started his presidential campaign, with a tweet about immigrants
“Druggies, drug dealers, rapists and killers are coming across the southern border. When will the U.S get smart and stop this travesty?” – (@realDonaldTrump) 20/6/2015.
This endorses very stereotypical views about people of a Mexican descent and immigrants in general, it also renders him as a person who appears to not think before he speaks. You would think that an individual running for President would not say insolent things about people and attempt to pass them off as statements.
He is misogynistic and has made disgusting comments about his own family. Appearing to not care for the way he speaks about his own blood, who is to say he will care for the people of the U.S? Several people view him as a duplicitous person as he failed to produce his tax reports until after he had won the presidency, the document showed $38 million tax paid on $150million income from his property empire at a rate of 24 per cent, lower than the 35 percent he should have paid after a $103 million losses write down.
Mrs Smart, the Year 9 Learning Manager and excellent Maths teacher told us: “The wall is outrageous!” even people who are not directly affected care. Trump has planned to build a wall along the border of Mexico, which will stop Mexicans and people from other countries entering the US, he even had the effrontery to demand that Mexico should pay for it which is estimated to cost be between $2.2 billion to $13billion. This money could be used for things like hospitals, road care, and the education system, instead he has chosen to use it to block innocent people from entering the U.S and creating a better life for themselves and their families.
However, he has many respectable attributes about him. He is a well-established business man with hotels all over the world, an entertainment show about business which helps some entrepreneurs business grow. Miss Hogg, a member of the Student Services team said: “He was democratically elected therefore he deserves a chance”, the election was a fair vote even though it was a slim win for Trump, Hillary Clinton had lost with 48.% of voted and Donald Trump had won with 45.9% of votes, he only won because of the electoral college votes.
In the future, I think we can expect a change. It will not only impact the U.S but many more countries. For all we know Donald Trump could apologise for his actions, have a successful presidency and be known as the greatest President to grace U.S soil. What I can guarantee is that all of humanity needs to learn to have compassion, educate themselves about subjects before they have a negative view on it and put themselves in other people's situation. Then and only then can the world move forward as one.
Brexit: What’s fake and what’s fact
By Myla and Ella; Townley Grammar
The question of whether we made the right decision is still being debated 9 months post-referendum; with many people regretting their decisions. The reason why the referendum is such a huge topic is because it affects so many aspects of our lives, from the price of our food to immigration. It seems the closer these topics hit home, the more passionately people tend to feel about it; remember when there were rumours all over the internet about Nandos leaving due to Brexit.
“We are losing our part of our culture the world is ending”
- tweeted after a rumour broke out that Nandos was closing down because of Brexit
Everybody’s heard about Brexit and its division of our country; with 52% voting leave and 48% voting stay. Our choice as a country will not only alter the lives of our generation, but the ones that come after us and there is a lot more depth to our decision to leave than just the absence of immigration.
So is this really an accurate representation of our generations’ opinion on the situation? The two of us (Myla and Ella) set off to find out how the people of London feel about Brexit, and most importantly what’s fake, and what’s fact.
There is a lot of myths surrounding this political decision:
Myth:Leaving the EU will reduce immigration
Fact: In actuality it’s not likely that Brexit will reduce immigration. Despite Nigel Farage’s claims that getting out of the EU is the only way to do this, immigration is not something that can just be turned on and off. Immigration in our country was as a result of growth in the labour market.
Myth: Leaving the EU will increase funding to the NHS
Fact: Nigel Farage’s previous propagada surrounding NHS funding has been proven to be false. In fact, he even admitted it in an interview after the referendum stating –the £350 million pledge to fund the NHS was ‘a mistake’.
Myth: The only people who voted leave are racist white people
Fact: This is very untrue. As we went around the school interviewing various people we heard many differing opinions from many different people, and justifications for supporting the leave campaign went beyond keeping immigrants out. Even though this may have been a motivation for some voters, after speaking to both students and teachers across the school we discovered that there were a range of views coming from all sorts of people.
Britain is a small island and a lot of our economic success has stemmed from our connections and trade deals with other countries. We interviewed several teachers, and this is what they had to say:
“Our economy is based on, essentially, the status and strength that Britain got when it had an empire. The fact that the financial industry in London is basically the centre of the world is quote unquote because that’s the way it’s always been. We don’t have the smartest of people. We don’t have the best of anything, really, in terms of finances and that is an enormous part of our economy. If we start closing ourselves off and if we start negotiating without the strength of Europe behind us, I think that businesses will just go elsewhere and that’s going to impact our economy. I also think, ideologically, that it is far better to be a part of a group of nations than it is to be on your own. Inclusion is better than isolationism.”
“I voted remain because I believe that if it’s not broken, then we don’t need to fix it”
“I think it’ll be good. It gives us more independence.”
“As long as we negotiate for good trade deals, I think that it will be okay”
The Generation Gap
Recent years have been witness to rapid development. The world that we live in constantly evolving and drastic advancements in technology have been a leading factor in the divide between generations. It is evident that there is a huge contrast between perspectives of the typical older and younger generations however multiple gaps exist between people of even a similar age. This can lead to misconceptions which contribute to rigid stereotypes which are formed in all generations.
The Second World War saw mass destruction and a huge loss of life. Thus in the years 1946-64 a vast rise in birth rates occurred so that vacant roles could be filled and society restored, hence the name baby boomers. Much of this time focused on the rebuilding of the country so it was vital for this generation to contribute to the reconstruction of their lives. Therefore it is clear that the baby boomers have laid the foundations in order for the next generations to have a prosperous future, which is a factor which many people have a lack of awareness to. In fact many young people have adopted a certain perspective of this generation; that they do not possess modern values. The baby boomers grew up in a time of ethnic uniformity which arguably resulted in a mind-set not compatible with the 21st century. In terms of recent politics, the majority of Brexiteers fall into the category of baby boomers, instilling a sense of resent from a lot of the younger generation.
As teenagers, born into the latest generation (generation Z), we have grown up into a world of modernised and developed thinking. Although it is acknowledged that past viewpoints are difficult to change, there is a strong feeling that is it is unfair that we must now live in a country decided by outdated opinions without our wishes being considered. Additionally, the world has seen so much development, which we feel has reinforced the divide between us and the baby boomers. Although there is now more opportunities, in some senses the younger generation feels disadvantaged. For example, house prices have risen drastically, and we are envious that our seniors were able to receive university education for free. Now, we are subject to debt that will hinder a stable future.
Another factor which accentuates the divide between generations, is the sudden progression in technology. Generation z is growing up in a world thriving in technology and we will never know anything different. This change in circumstance in the past century, has evoked a perception of young people as being consumed by innovation happening around us. Perhaps, the older generation feel discarded by generation z as they find it difficult to adjust to this ever-changing world.
However, the divide is not this definitive. Generation x (1961-81) are on the border of both generations and therefore are inclined to adopt varied views. They grew up in in a period of social transition where more accepting viewpoints surfaced. People attempted to enforce a more equal society, influencing some of our most prevalent values today. Therefore, it is notable that the generation gap is pertinent to more than just the two typical generations, a point not often vocalised.In conclusion, it is clear that the generation gap is a complex series of divisions rather than the two dominant sides. Although each group has conflicting ideologies, it is important to understand the origins of such beliefs and to reason rather than argue. Forsooth, if we can combine our thoughts, there can be a possibility of a more unified future as it is vital to bridge the gap between generations. Progress is already being made as a member of staff in senior generation has said in an interview “I do not believe there is a generation gap as I feel I have grown with the students.” This enhances the opportunity of annihilating the divisions in our generations as we begin to accept and educate each other and move towards a more united and accepting world
Trump and Policies
We have heard reports on all the controversy that the newly elected president, Mr Donald J Trump, and the discrimination of Immigrants in the United States. There have been bans against travellers coming from predominantly Islamic countries and building a wall to protect its border.
President Trump has been in the media’s eyes since the start of his election for mainly negative reasons, and there seems to be very few positive comments about the President. It seems that he doesn’t have many supporters amongst the younger generation and even some of the older generation. We asked some students, who would appreciate to stay anonymous on their views on Trump and his Policies, they are ‘in shock’ that he was elected and that his ‘policies are outrageous’.
One of the positives we have heard about Trump is that he sticks to what he sets out to do such as the Islamic countries ban. We have heard many negative views about this proposed ban, and that it is hypocritical that he can ban countries that are of no use to him or the economy of the United States, but they allow countries such as Saudi Arabia to be able to come to the U.S since they provide the country with crude oil. A student in the Upper Sixth has also commented on the fact that the ban wouldn’t stop terrorism, it would only bring more trouble to the United States. Since Mr Trump’s victory there has been a rise in hate and discrimination crimes against Mosques in the U.S. Many people have commented that ‘only a minute amount of deaths are caused by terrorism’, a student even stated that ‘that there is a higher chance of being killed by a lawnmower than terrorists’.
‘Donald Trump is stupid politically, but clever on the business side of things. He’s going to make more jobs. The wall is going to make jobs for people, factories being opened creates job. He is a great business man, but a terrible president’ was said by a member of staff in the school. To some extent their statement is true, but the ways he’s is going about to create those jobs are not necessarily the best. He is trying to introduce more border security jobs for U.S citizens which arguably is a negative thing to do, since realistically it would take ages for those positions to be filled up, but in reality he is doing what he set out to do which is create more jobs which would actually benefit the people without jobs. Personally I feel that he has done some good by trying to increase the amount of jobs in the United States since the unemployment rate in the U.S is 4.9 % people, which doesn’t seem that much at first glance but that is 13.1 million people who have no source of income. The problem with the accumulation of these jobs is that they are done potentially incorrectly.At the end of the day, there are many negative view on Donald Trump, and that he is not a very good president. Alternatively, he has started doing what he set out to do, just not the right way and at the end of the day we should just see that ‘he is a bit of a laugh’ 0as an older member of staff explained and that we should just see whether what he has done has helped or ruined the United States Of America
The future for divided Britain
By Bavleen Atwal
On June 24th 2016, the rising political tension in the UK finally reached its endpoint, as the result of the British EU referendum was announced. However, although the leave campaign won its vote, Britain lays as divided as ever. With towns, cities, homes and families split, the country sits in anticipation to see what will become of Britain, the EU and our futures. No one, from either side, can be sure for the future of our country.
What do voters believe is going to happen, and what is predicted next?
Single market Vs. Free Movement
One of the bitterest battles being argued over currently is the issue with immigration opposed to our economy. Currently we are a part of the single market, which in simple terms is EU policy that describes the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. This has many positive, and negative attachments. Staying the EU single market allows us to eliminate tariffs for goods from the EU, gives UK businesses easy and simple access to 500 million customers across Europe and, most controversially, allows for free movement, describing the allowance of people to move in and out of European countries as wanted. Throughout the Brexit campaign, many people were strongly against this movement. We interviewed an Economics teacher, who voted remain. He demonstrated the leave side’s point of view, explaining that, ‘Free movement of people and labour has obviously had a massive negative impact on a lot of people in the UK, which has to be understood and it had to be understood in a way that people won’t be put as xenophobic or racist’ continuing to explain that people ‘felt that they were being displaced rather than communities being enhanced by immigration’. Many believe we must leave the EU in order to address this movement of people. In contrast, a maths teacher presented a different notion of free movement, stating that, ‘We’ve got lots of different people, different cultures coming in…and to me it enriches society’. Many remain voters do not believe that immigration is an issue, and this difference of opinion split people apart, even some remain voters believed that the immigration issue should be addressed and some leave voters believing it is not that big of an issue, causing drifts within the parties themselves.
As well as free movement, the single market applies EU regulations and rules all across members of the union. Mr Robinson, a maths teacher explained this notion, ‘we can’t have a system that works for everyone, and what you end up with is the situation in Spain where there is high unemployment, and the situation in Germany where there is low unemployment because the efficiencies and the workings of the different economies need difference interest rates and spending, and you can’t get that In the EU’. A remain voter however stated that she believes, ‘It would mean that price of everyday foods and services in our country would increase dramatically, for the immediate present.
What we end with is the two opposing sides for this issue, those that wish to stay in the single market and deal with the free movement in exchange for low tariffs and free labour, against those that wish to leave the single market and deal these increased tariffs in exchange for UK law and less immigration.
International Women’s Day at Townley
By Matilda Smart
On the 8th of March, many members of Townley, of all different genders, races and backgrounds came together to celebrate International Women’s Day. The day is highly significant at Townley, as a female single sex school, who promotes gender equality and strength among women. The main event of the Day was a debate, chaired by Mr Fabiani and featuring a panel including our head teacher Mr Deehan, Miss Macdougal and a variety of students, including myself, of varying opinions and backgrounds. Many issues were covered such as the wage gap, the subjugation of women, especially in the media and sexism in the workplace, as well as questions and statements from the audience. It was a fantastic day and it was brilliant to be among so many intelligent, like-minded people, everybody’s opinion was respected and it really demonstrated the level of acumen among the Townley community.
How Do Single-Sex Schools Affect Teaching?
Megan Baffoe, Aimen Barlas, Vella Hristova, Ri Nwoha
“There is no "maths gene", there is nothing inherent about boys or girls doing particularly well or badly in different subjects.
If boys can do better than girls in maths tests in some western countries - and then girls in Shanghai can do better at maths than those western boys, it shows the variable factor is not gender, but those education systems.” ¹
As the quote suggests, neither sex nor gender dictates capability at a subject, which would in turn imply that the sex of those in the classroom would not affect the teaching styles. While it is a commonly known fact that boys tend to do better in mathematics, a 2011 study shows that perhaps girls are not as poor at STEM subjects as we appear to think.
“In the study, teachers graded the math tests of 11-year-olds and, on average, the scores were lower for girls. But, when different teachers graded the same tests anonymously, the girls performed far better (out-performing the boys in many cases.)” ²
The idea that girls are inherently bad at any STEM-related subject is, then clearly false – so sex and gender should not affect teaching. One teacher at Townley Grammar school certainly agrees. ‘Sex would not affect the way I teach my class,’ he says, ‘and I try to teach everyone equally.’ However, not every teacher shares the opinion that their class would not be affected by the arrival of (biological) male students. Many feel that their class would lose its focus.
‘Girls will become more distracted by boys,’ another teacher explains. Some of the students even mention that distraction may be an issue; ‘I think girls would get more distracted by boys in the classroom,’ a Year 9 student acquiesces – though in general, in mixed schools, uniform codes are operated around the idea that boys will become distracted if girls’ clothing is too revealing.
A third teacher disagrees that girls will be distracted due to sexual attraction; ‘girls do better than boys academically in teenage years, as well as maturing earlier,’ she says. ‘Girls will therefore perform better without the distraction of immature boys in the classroom.’
Whether teachers believe that sex doesn’t change focus, or that it does, either sexually or academically, all can understand that single-sex schools can have their advantages. ‘There are pros and cons to both,’ one teacher remarks. However, many teachers at the school agree that something as simple as an opposite sex should not make someone incapable of learning, particularly as they will have to mix with the opposite sex later in life. As Janet Hyde says;³
“Schools should prepare kids for life, and life is co-ed."