WAG Appeal: Cheryl Cole is one of the celebrities schoolgirls try to emulate
They are giving up on studying because they want an ‘easy route to money’ by becoming a footballer’s wife or an instant star on Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor.
Many want to become a mini-celebrity instantly so they try to attract attention from boys by disrupting classes, spreading rumours and even cyber-bullying.
As a result, teachers’ time is increasingly taken up dealing with ‘horsing around’, use of mobile phones in lessons and bullying.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers surveyed 859 teachers, heads, lecturers and support staff working in state and independent schools ahead of its annual conference, which begins in Liverpool today.
Nearly half said girls’ behaviour has worsened over the past two years. And one in five believes that girls’ behaviour is more challenging than that of boys.
Hank Roberts, ATL’s junior vice president, cited the influence of Wags – young women who obtain instant wealth by marrying sportsmen.
And he insisted that teaching is made more difficult by programmes such as The X Factor, which is judged by Cheryl Cole – herself the winner of a TV talent show and a former footballer’s wife.
‘Easy routes to money or fame – or both – are distorting for people and especially enticing if you’re not a natural high achiever,’ he added.
Mr Roberts, a teacher at Copland Community School in Wembley, said that the TV shows create a ‘false image of success, that anyone can do it and it’s just a matter of luck rather than hard work’.
Other reasons given for girls’ bad behaviour are bust-ups with friends and family and problems associated with puberty.
Almost half of teachers said the most common form of bad behaviour is bullying by isolating another pupil, spreading rumours and making ‘snide looks across the classroom’.
Role models? Girls are increasingly aspiring to follow in the footsteps of reality TV stars such as Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel
A primary school teacher from Bedfordshire said: ‘Girls often say nasty things which end up disrupting the lesson just as much as the boys. They are usually the ones who refuse to comply with instructions.’
And a teaching assistant from Weston-super-Mare said: ‘Girls are definitely getting more violent, with gangs of girls in school getting worse than the gangs of boys.’
Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said unfortunately the ‘wrong kinds of women and achievements’ are being celebrated.
‘When I ask girls to name famous men, they will name politicians, artists and businessmen,’ she said.
But for well-known women, ‘they will invariably name those famous for being pretty or sexy or singing – not necessarily singing well’.
She added: ‘It’s a scary time to be a little girl when the message is constantly that your value lies in your ability to be desired, not in your intelligence.’