Schoolboys have learnt "how to treat a lady" following a six month course of etiquette lessons at their school after their female classmates complained about their manners.
The girls at Fowey Community College were fed up with "white socks, pants on show, too much deodorant, showing off or bad language", according to one teacher. They were asked to write a list on which improvements they would like to see in their male peers, and said they wanted their young men to be "gentlemen" and make them feel special on a night out.
The lessons, which were based on feedback from the girls, were taught to 30 boys and covered:
- The Knight’s Code of Chivalry – starter lesson on what it takes to be chivalrous (internal lesson plan )
- Personal grooming – shaving , prevention of stubble rash, why ladies don’t like too much Lynx (external expert)
- Tailoring – choosing a suit, dressing well (external expert), what matches and what should be worn together, choosing a corsage
- Public speaking – making a speech at an event (external expert)
- Fine dining & etiquette – make the right impression (external expert – hosted at a posh hotel next door)
- Around the house – what ladies like men to be able to do (lessons in tiling, checking tyre pressure/oil/water, changing a plug, setting up the Wii/DVD, plumbing in a sink – all with an external expert)
Student Jake Law from Cornwall took part in the "charm school" as it was a "nice break from GCSEs and a great opportunity for self-improvement".
"For me personally, I don’t think a big change in my behaviour is required, but I definitely think it has made me more aware of my language and also the importance of small things that make a difference in how you are perceived," he says. "These lessons are something which have really evolved since the start of the course and I have noticed myself opening doors more often for people – I didn’t do that before."
Fellow student 16-year-old Mike Shakespear added: "The most important thing I have learnt is how to treat a lady and how to talk to her properly. I am also very aware of my use of language."
Head of maths Samantha Munro, who was responsible for the idea, said her inspiration came from the year 11 fashion show.
"The girls were really struggling to walk in their heels and asked us for some pointers, and this led us to come up with this activity for our fortnightly off-curriculum afternoon," she explained. "After running two very successful courses for the girls, including a tiara and £25 voucher for the most improved lady, the boys were feeling a little left out and approached me about having their own course as preparation.
"At the same time, the girls were also keen for the boys to get ready for the Ball and improve.
"So the boys need to offer ladies their jacket, ensure she faces the room if they’re having dinner out, give her their focus and ensure she feels looked after," Munro added.