GIRLS are still being brought up to believe that raising children is more important than their own ambitions, a leading head teacher warned last night.
Newly-appointed president of the Girls’ Schools Association, Hilary French, said that society sees women as the ones who take charge of childcare.
Mrs French, the head of Central Newcastle High School, said that young women need to learn that they have options in life and should be free to make decisions.
Central Newcastle High School regularly runs a course for students teaching entrepreneurial and leadership skills, which is addressed by business leaders and entrepreneurs.
She said: “Eighteen months ago, one of the young entrepreneurs, a lady, dared to say that she had probably put her business ahead of her son and the sharp intake of breath from all of the girls was audible.
“They were all absolutely shocked, so yes, we are still creating a generation of girls who think that the whole idea of looking after children is really the most important thing, once you have a child.
“And who’s to say? That’s a whole ethical, moral argument, isn’t it? And it’s a very, very personal decision.
“But, what’s maybe less personal, and maybe more incumbent on us as leaders in girls’ schools, is to try and get girls to see that it is a decision, and that there are options, and that it’s not wrong, and that’s where society needs to come into play as well. It’s not wrong to make a particular decision, whatever it is.”
In her first interview as president, Mrs French said it is the responsibility of girls’ schools to help their pupils to “be strong in making decisions and secure in the rightness of the decision that they have made“.
She said: “There has been an increase in the number of house-husbands, but the very fact that it is still newsworthy means it’s not accepted as the norm. ”
Despite more girls going to university and achieving a great deal, Mrs French said we still expect women to be at the core of the relationship, the homemaker, the person who brings up children and thinks about what everyone is going to eat that day.
She said that while men are still often seen as the ones that will go to work and have a career, she was also “quite struck“ that today’s young men are “very caring and do want to have children and do have an affinity with children“.
Mrs French also raised concerns about the Government’s plans to scrap GCSEs and replace them with new English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) in core academic subjects. Under the proposals, EBCs in English, maths and science would be introduced in autumn 2015, with the first exams taken in 2017. EBCs in history, geography and foreign languages would be brought in at a later date.
Mrs French said: “It’s not going to suit a huge proportion of children, because if you expect everybody to do a level which includes everybody, it’s going to have to be a fairly high baseline.”