UK: Call for single-sex schools
Boys should be taught in single-sex schools with
strong male role models to help a 'lost generation' of fatherless young
men find their way in life, the Tory leadership contender Liam Fox says
Teenagers with no male influence beyond their equally troubled peers
could also benefit from an expansion of army cadet-type schemes offering
a taste of structured life, and from voluntary group projects aimed at
instilling values into their lives, Fox said.
His intervention signals a broadening of the leadership race, with the
Fox camp now close to the 20 signatures needed to secure a nomination.
It also identifies social breakdown as a key theme for the leadership
contest, after David Cameron last week bemoaned the sexualised content
of pop videos and called for the boosting of marriage.
Writing in The Observer yesterday, Fox — a noted
Thatcherite — argues that her Eighties social changes came at a cost to
the life of the extended family, leaving too many young people detached
from society and education. “Too often they lack the values associated
with a secure upbringing or the guidance of male role models ... ” he
“We face the prospect of a lost generation, failed by family and
education and venting their frustrations on society.”
Fox said it was time to consider radical solutions. “Often the only male
company [these children] ever see are their contemporaries,” he said.
“I would like to see more church and voluntary groups get involved ...
and try to teach them what's expected of them. I would like to see the
sort of cadet schemes run by the armed forces try to get a bigger role.
And I think we would have to look at the educational system and whether
there is a case for single-sex schools.”
Stressing that such solutions would be optional, he
said they could provide the good influences missing from many boys'
lives. “We have a serious problem,” he said.
Being educated with girls was thought to be a civilising influence on
boys. But a study earlier this year showed that while boys in general
are outstripped by girls at A-level, those in single-sex schools do as
well or better.
Fox's intervention reflects efforts among Tory pretenders to halt the
momentum gained by David Davis, until last week the runaway favourite.
Davis, who will make a major speech tomorrow setting
out new ideas, is thought to have signed up around 60 Tory MPs, while
Cameron is building from a base of around 20. Kenneth Clarke confirmed
last week he also had the 20 signatures required to support a leadership
Gaby Hinsliff and Ned Temko
3 July 2005