A teachers’ union leader has told of how many girls at school feel as though they have to be either attractive or intelligent due to sexist name-calling by peers.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said that this can lead to lessons “with boys talking and girls listening”. She added that girls can feel as though they are on a tightrope in both mixed sex and all-girls schools.

Pressure on girls in society to be thin, attractive and compliant can lead to what Dr Bousted called a “sorting” of girls as they choose either society’s pressures or intelligence and being vocal.

“I think sexist bullying is a thing that just doesn’t get talked about… For girls, ‘if you are swotty and clever and answer too many questions, you are not attractive’. There’s a very fine line”, Dr Bousted said speaking ahead of the ATL’s annual conference where the issue will be debated.

Despite her conclusions, Dr Bousted said she was “very confident” that schools are dealing with the issue better than before.

It is certainly a thought-provoking issue and one that I can identify with a lot. It’s time that girls are told that being swotty (which is not a bad word, look it up), answering questions and being intelligent is okay and that it is possible to be attractive at the same time. Beauty is only skin-deep.