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Career, relationship, children – can our daughters have it all? The debate continues......

‘Can our daughters have it all?’ That was the question we asked last month, and you answered in your droves

‘Career, relationship, children – can our daughters have it all?’ Our question was inspired by Gwen Byrom, the new president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), headmistress of Loughborough High School and the mother of five children aged between two and 19. She told The Sunday Times: ‘The message is you can have it all to a degree, but there are compromises. The compromise we made was that I would be the major breadwinner and my husband would stay at home and look after the children. Girls have that choice and I encourage them to talk to their partners about that balance. I think what is lovely nowadays is that there are options.’

We asked for your views on this subject, so thank you to everyone who took the trouble to reply. Some readers were broadly supportive of Gwen Byrom’s words, but others were outraged that we had even asked if women ‘can have it all’.

One wrote: ‘I find it unacceptable that you frame this as a woman/girl problem. The description of the struggle faced by working parents in juggling a career and a family applies just as much to fathers as it does to mothers.’

Well yes, but in our view there’s still a debate to be had about how to balance a successful career with family life, whichever sex you are. One reader, a teacher and mother of two daughters, put the debate in a nutshell when she said she was a better mother because she was happy and fulfilled in her career – but that she still felt guilty from time to time.

But she added: ‘I’m showing my girls that it can be done – with compromise – and that they too can have a successful career and enjoy motherhood. I talk to the girls at school about it too. I believe that it’s really important that they see examples of women who are balancing having children with successful leadership and I’m always honest when they ask if it is stressful or hard. I explain that my husband and I share responsibilities (except the ironing – that’s his job), talk honestly to each other and compromise.’

Talk honestly, compromise, share responsibilities and delegate the ironing – we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

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All the schools we review are good, but no school is perfect. If we hear the breakfast is boring or think the dormitories are dated, we tell it like it is. Schools may not always like what we say, but parents love it!

Extracts from some of our latest boarding school reviews

Eton College (boys’ independent school) As they mustered and spread themselves out, waistcoats and hair somewhat dishevelled, the older boys could have passed for weary ushers at the end of a particularly gruelling society wedding.

Bedales (co-ed independent school) ‘Not pressurised’, said a parent, whose academic children benefit from being big fish in a small pond. ‘Work is not carried out in a competitive fashion’. She sometimes asks herself whether more pressure might make them do better.

Hanford School (girls’ independent prep school) A notably horsey school from way back, pretty much everybody rides, but no worries if you don’t. In the summer you can enjoy a gallop before breakfast.

Gordon’s School (co-ed state boarding school) Every pupil learns to march and takes part in every one of the eight parades and chapel services held each year, accompanied by the pipes and drums marching band.

Going up, going down

Going up

Good luck Andria. Art and textiles teacher Andria Zafirakou, a senior leader at Alperton Community School in Wembley, Middlesex, has been named as one of ten finalists competing for a $1 million global teaching prize. The winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize will be announced next month (March). We’re keeping our fingers crossed for her...

TES Independent School Awards. Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, west London was named independent school of the year at the TES Independent School Awards 2018 earlier this month. Judges paid particular tribute to the way in which the school helped neighbouring Kensington Aldridge Academy in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Meanwhile the award for special services to independent education went to Peter Bellenger of Brighton College.

Two times two. Thousands of year 4 children in England's primary schools are to take part in trials for new times tables tests this spring. The tests will be rolled out to all pupils over the next two years.

Going down

More PE please. Nearly four in ten English secondary schools have cut timetabled PE for 14 to 16-year-olds. A new Youth Sport Trust report warns that this ‘spiralling downward trend’ risks ‘selling this and future generations short’.

Spend, spend, spend. Girls start spending more cash than boys when they enter their teens, says new research for the Office for National Statistics. While girls spend an average of £20.20 a week, boys shell out £17.30. Between the ages of seven and nine though, boys spend £8.50 a week compared to girls’ £7.25 outlay.

Lecturer strikes. University students who face a month of industrial action by striking academics are calling for compensation for lectures they miss. Lecturers at 61 universities are expected to go on strike this week in a row over changes to staff pensions.

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