School's equality drive 'backfires' as head girl replaced by...a BOY!

One of Scotland’s top state schools has prompted an angry backlash after its head girl was replaced with a boy in what was supposed to be an ‘inclusivity’ drive.

Williamwood High School scrapped its traditional positions of head boy and head girl and replaced them with two gender neutral ‘captains’ elected by other pupils.

However, the move ‘backfired’ after both posts were secured by male candidates, while none of four girls who put themselves forward were chosen.

Securing one of the posts is viewed as a significant moment in a pupil’s career, and can boost university applications and lead to other openings, such as opportunities for public speaking.

Parents and female pupils claimed girls at the school, located in one of Scotland’s most affluent areas, were being denied opportunities as a result of the supposedly ‘progressive’ policy.

school's equality drive 'backfires' as head girl replaced by...a boy!

Preoccupied with gender: Williamwood  is trying to gain special LGBT status

Williamwood, in Clarkston, East Renfrewshire, is one of Scotland’s best performing schools, as well as one of the biggest, with a roll of around 1,700 pupils.

The school is applying for charter status from controversial SNP-funded charity LGBT Youth Scotland, which advises against use of words such as boy and girl in classrooms, althogh the local council denied there was any link between this and the move towards ‘captains’.

East Renfrewshire council, which has responsibility for the school, said the move away from head boys and girls was part of a national trend designed to ‘allow for greater equality’.

However, parents pointed out the move appeared to have achieved the opposite of its objective, while feminist campaigners claimed the move would limit opportunities for female pupils while handing an advantage to males.

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘If this was a move towards equality then it has backfired.

‘If you are going to have two positions, then clearly a move such as this brings the possibility that the vote will end with two boys or two girls, whereas before you were guaranteed a boy and a girl. The whole thing is utter stupidity.’

Another parent, writing on social media, claimed girls had been left ‘furious’ and that teachers had dismissed their concerns by telling them ‘that’s what you voted for’.

Another posted: ‘So, girls are excluded. How very inclusive.’

Marion Calder, a director at the For Women Scotland campaign group, said: ‘This is yet another misplaced policy in the guise of equality which in reality leads to the erasure of females and denies girls opportunities.

‘It is no wonder that parents are up in arms. This school and any others that have adopted this regressive change should scrap it and return to a system that has served them well for decades.

‘There have been multiple studies which show that in this type of election, girls are perfectly willing to vote for boys but boys will typically only vote for other boys.’

LGBT Youth Scotland advises schools that terms such as ‘head pupil’ are ‘more inclusive’ as alternatives may distress pupils who identify as transgender or non-binary.

The charity, largely funded by the SNP government, requires schools to rewrite and update policies to achieve accreditation.

Williamwood boasts the eighth-best exam results in Scotland, out of 361 state schools, and was last year named Secondary School of the Year in Scotland by The Sunday Times.

The school was rebuilt in 2006 and, three years later, became the first in Scotland to be awarded the maximum possible score, five ‘excellent’ ratings across pupil attainment and teaching standards, from education inspectors.

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Williamwood has also consistently achieved very high levels of pupil success in national exams.

The council said the ‘captains’ system at Williamwood had been brought in four years ago, replacing the head boy and girl titles, and that this year was the first that two pupils of the same gender had been elected.

An East Renfrewshire council spokesman said: ‘Many schools across Scotland are moving away from a Head Boy and a Head Girl to appointments of School Captains to allow for greater equality.

‘The process for appointing School Captains at Williamwood High has been in place for several years and, following a vote, on this occasion two male pupils have been appointed for the year ahead.

‘The wider pupil leadership team within the school will be made up of both boys and girls to ensure a wide range of views are put forward.

‘It is wrong to suggest this approach to appointing School Captains is in any way linked to attempts to gain charter status from LGBT Youth Scotland.’

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