Dr Peter West addresses some of the issues in this submission.
The Inquiry into the Education of Boys is welcomed. Clearly there are signs that the whole question of raising boys, their lives at school and in the workplace and the quality of their lives as adults concerns a wide range of people. The Committee would have had ample evidence of this concern from academics, schools, parents’ and community organisations.
There is evidence that concern is increasing as evidence mounts up about boys’ difficulties. The evidence ranges from a historically high suicide rate among young men (Fry et al.,1999) to declining motivation in, and performance of, boys in school leaving examinations. Despite the unfortunate lack of data from some governments, there is evidence that boys are overwhelmingly in the majority in school suspensions (Anon, 1999). We can readily agree with the assessment of John Head looking at related difficulties of young males in the United Kingdom (1999:4-9). Looking at the evidence which confronts us of so many young men suiciding, being suspended from school, in trouble on the streets and struggling to achieve at school, any sensible person would have to conclude that young males are in considerable difficulties. Not all young men, but sufficient young men to cause concern. The puzzle for future generations will be why it took governments so long to act.