Schools should tell parents what their child is being taught about “toxic masculinity” and they should assess the impact of such lessons on boys, a group of MPs has said.
A “boy-positive school environment” is needed to help close the gender attainment gap, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Issues Affecting Men and Boys.
A report by the APPG said “toxic masculinity” lessons and initiatives could lead to male pupils feeling “picked on”.
It said: “If such initiatives are invoked, the parents should have the right to know about these, they should give consent and should review the content.”
Schools should scrutinise the course content of any organisations speaking to pupils about masculinity and explore its impact on students, the report said.
It added: “Schools should not accept students being told in lessons that boys are a problem for society.”
The group called on the Government and the education sector to make tackling the gender attainment gap a national education priority.
The report – which has been published on International Men’s Day – recommended that Ofsted should assess schools on how they address the gender attainment gap, and the Government should run male-focused recruitment campaigns in schools.
Conservative Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher, who chairs the APPG, said: “Boys are behind girls at every age and stage of education. It is well known, yet barely mentioned, as if it is expected, normal and acceptable. It is hidden in plain sight.
“The lack of action or effort from Westminster, Whitehall and the national educational establishment to address it is a modern-day scandal.”
He added: “We also need the government and the national education community to care more about boys’ education. Their silence cannot continue.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Schools and colleges care deeply about the outcomes of all their pupils of whatever gender and background. They painstakingly track those outcomes, identifying where additional support is required.
“We completely reject the accusation that the ‘national education community’ lacks the will to help boys succeed.
“The issue of ‘toxic masculinity’ is obviously not a slur on boys or men in general, but arises from a concern about the impact of online influencers who promote misogynistic rhetoric.
“Schools and colleges are very careful about the way in which such issues are discussed and are always happy to talk with any parent who has any concerns.”