Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education
Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education, Department of Educational Research, County South, Lancaster University, LA1 4YD, UK
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Department of Educational Research > SJWE@lancaster > Laddish behaviour and learner engagement

‘Laddish’ behaviour and learner engagement

From formal theory to real-world solutions

Research impact story

Authoritative and influential research by Carolyn Jackson about ‘laddish’ behaviour amongst secondary school pupils (girls and boys) generated considerable media interest, was reported in several journal articles and in the award-winning book ‘Lads’ and ‘ladettes’ in school: Gender and a fear of failure

The research and associated outputs firstly challenged the myth that ‘laddism’ is the preserve of white, working-class boys, showing that many girls and middle-class boys are ‘laddish’ too. Secondly, they revealed that many ‘laddish’ behaviours are motivated both by fears of social failure (being unpopular) and fears of academic failure. Thirdly, they suggested that the ‘uncool to work’ aspect of ‘laddishness’ is fostered by performance climates in which fears of failure are common. 

These findings, and the implications of them, were highlighted and used in key publications from the UK Government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), for example, Gender and Education Mythbusters (2009) and Gender Issues in School – What works to improve achievement for boys and girls (2009).

Lads and ladettes in school book cover

The inclusion of Carolyn Jackson’s research as a core aspect of the OCR A/S Level Sociology syllabus is directly impacting the ways in which 16-18 year old Sociology students understand how gender, learner identities, and fears of failure intersect. 

The research is part of the unit on ‘Exploring socialization, culture and identity’ and has also been used to support research methods teaching at A/S level.  Online Classroom TV produced a 25 minute DVD about Lads and Ladettes in School which has been watched by an estimated 20,000 students per year.

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