My first blog for Nexus Education; which can be read here, https://www.nexus-education.com/pressforprogress-what-about-the-curriculum/ focused on how we can #PressforProgress within the curriculum. This was picked up by a few people, including Stephanie Green @Dauntless_STEM who reached out to me to see what we could do on a national level.
With the help of Stephanie and @Drinkwater76 @MissSimpsonWCS and @MissSEdwardsWCS we are working on two projects, #tellHERstory, which focuses on introducing more women into the History curriculum and #readHERstory which is doing the same for English. It is still in its early days, but, so far, we have made progress towards gaining attention from academics as well as fellow teachers. These academics include Mary Beard and Philippa Greggory, who have either kindly retweeted or spread the word amongst other Historians. The BBC are running their, Hear Her season, the NEU have just released a study on sexism in schools and questions are being raised on a national level about the lack of diversity in our schools. Clearly, it is time to act, for me it was time to practice what I’ve been, as some people have put it, ‘Preach’.
I had already introduced some ‘Herstory’ with my display, which went down well in the classroom. Although, the boys said that, it was still lacking ‘a man’. Clearly, the point had been missed.
I decided to demonstrate; that it is possible to include women at KS3 and how their significance can be very easily shown, without it being as part of an agenda. This was very simply done through top trumps. As you can see, the students were asked to read some information on each person and give them an overall ‘grade’ to their importance. In their work you can see a variety of results. Women, as well as men have either been put up or down as their learning allowed them to see the varying significance of different people. The women in the Wars of the Roses are an easy example, Margaret of Anjou was instrumental in the initial stages and in leading the Lancastrian army. Elizabeth Woodville and of York both had parts to play. In fact, Elizabeth Woodville is on the front of this months BBC History Magazine. The students have demonstrated that they have understood that their role was important. However, there are still problems, on average the men were given the higher ratings or the same for doing less. Henry VI who was mad and made few decisions is given the same grading as Margaret of Anjou, the girls justification. ‘Well he was a King’. Do women have to do more than men in this instance to be the same? Or is this just an anomaly. I fear that at this stage it is not. In the future? Hopefully.
My school is not stopping here. We plan on using this as a starting point. We are looking to become a gender charter school, introducing gender champions and hopefully some CPD. The NEU have recently published a study https://ukfeminista.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Report-Its-just-everywhere.pdf which is a shocking read, with over 54% of teachers witnessing gender stereotyping on a weekly basis. Our aim is to tackle this, through curriculum initiatives and our drive for gender equality.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you do in your school? Have you done something similar? What have the results been?