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Boys’ Programme

Programme Lead

Mr. O. McVeigh

Director of Learning

Ferndown Upper School proudly Takes Boys Seriously.

Our Story

We are proud to be the first school in England to apply the University of Ulster’s Taking Boys Seriously principles across the breadth of our school. From teaching and learning, to extra curricular provision, to mentoring and academic support. These principles support:

    • Their understanding of masculinity

    • Their mental well being

    • Finding and using their voice to contribute positively to society

Ferndown Upper School is the founding school of the Dorset Boys Impact Hub; a network of schools and practitioners from across the county that meet to discuss equity within education. The Ferndown story is just a part of some amazing stories taking place across the county and beyond, nationally.

Why do we do this?

Because we need to. Here are some statistics that demonstrate the reason for our programme:

    • Nationally, boys underperform at all Key Stages of primary and secondary education compared to girls

    • Boys are more likely to be excluded from school

    • Men are 4 times more likely to become the victim of suicide than women – the South Coast of England having the highest male suicide rate and increase in the country

    • Men make up 96% of the prison population

FUS is proud to be paving a way through these statistics and providing our boys with support both academically and emotionally to change the narrative around boys within education and society. We are proud that our boys achieve highly and are not subject to the same underperformance statistics as seen in other parts of the country.

We are excited to see our programme being rolled out in other schools and are always looking to build further collaborations with external partners.

The Taking Boys Seriously Principles

The University of Ulster’s ‘Taking Boys Seriously Principles’ form the bedrock of FUS Takes Boys Seriously. These 10 principles provide a set of values that help to ensure that the provision that boys have within education is building them up for success.

What does our programme offer?

At Ferndown Upper School, we have built a programme around 6 main goals:

    1. Aspirations – Staff at FUS take the aspirations of our boys seriously and support them in their goals
    2. Extracurricular – FUS offers a wide range of extracurricular opportunities and support to engage with our boys
    3. Mentoring – We offer a mentoring programme which supports academic, emotional and social progress
    4. Wellbeing – Mental health and wellbeing are at the forefront of our provision. Students are supported through exposure to mental health education.
    5. Leadership – Students are encouraged to develop leadership roles to establish themselves as positive male role models
    6. Identity – Students will explore what it means to be a man in today’s society in preparation for adulthood

What have we achieved so far?

    • Literacy support – through collaboration with a Tik Tok author, Ben Mercer, cohorts of our boys have been able to engage meaningfully with literature, exploring masculinity through key texts, reading Ernest Hemingway as a group read and focusing on the idea of the Scholar Athlete.

    • Counselling – We have been able to provide some of our boys counselling support through the boys programme

    • Mental Health Talks – For Men’s Health Month in November, students were given input in tutor time and access to a guest speaker, Nick Elston, who spoke to them about his experiences with OCD and Depression

    • Body Image and Addiction – Shaun Flores, an ex-Vogue model, spoke to our boys about his experiences with OCD and body image issues, enabling our boys to engage meaningfully with their own identity and body confidence issues

    • Residentials – We have been able to offer our boys opportunities such as the Rona Sailing Project, where they lived and operated a Rona Sailing boat for 4 days

    • Mentoring – Cohorts of our boys have been assigned and allocated mentors who have worked with them and supported them in their development and journey throughout the year

    • Gym Visits – We have collaborated with E-Motion Fitness Hub to provide our boys with tips and tricks in how to look after their physical health.

    • Life coaches – We have had boys working with Life coaches to talk about communication as a male and how this can be problematic, offering them key takeaways to ensure that they are able to control the reaction of conversations that they have.

Being a Boy

Ferndown Upper School collaborates with Arts University Bournemouth and their Being a Boy programme, which provides tailored workshops for our boys that engage with creative subjects such as dance, art, photography and special effects make-up.

All of the boys that take part in the Being a Boy programme are invited to a graduation that celebrates their achievements throughout the course and recognises the work that they have accomplished.

To find out more, please follow this link: About — Boys’ Impact (

Are there any additional resources that would be helpful to support my son?

In the first instance, FUS would like to offer any support that you feel your son would need, both the Boys’ Team and Pastoral have fantastic resources available to aid your son so please do make use of these. If, however, you are looking for additional resources that can help to support your son at home, please do look at some of the following sites:

JAAQ: The new mental health platform – Support with mental health awareness and provides students with opportunities to ask questions about issues that they may be facing

Homepage | Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) ( – CALM – this is an additional site that can support mental health awareness and suicide prevention.