Letter: So we hope other schools will see the need

This letter was written by Clive Belgeonne of DECSY

Friday, 16th April 2021, 10:42 am
Other countries that rank higher on objective measures of gender equality are more concerned about the issue than Britain (Getty Images).

I am writing to add to Christine Rose’s letter last week (‘Together hopefully we can build back equal’).

She states that “This work needs to start in our schools with lessons on gender equality, respect and consent, and by proactively challenging views and behaviours so that they do not become normalised.” At DECSY (Development Education Centre, South Yorkshire, in Sheffield) we have been running training for teachers and projects that proactively promote gender equality for a number of years.

We have worked with a consortium of organisations, including the Institute of Physics and UCL, to develop Gender Action, an award scheme that promotes and supports a whole-school approach to challenging stereotypes https://www.genderaction.co.uk/ The scheme has been piloted successfully in London and we are seeking funding to develop it as a national award scheme.

We are also part of a nine European country project called ‘The Gender Equality Charter Mark’ - a framework that can be adopted by schools to help them look at influencing and informing their leadership, curriculum, physical environment, and the attitudes and relationships of both the students, staff and wider community in relation to gender equality issues

Until recently we have been disappointed that most schools do not seem to think they have a gender equality problem despite several surveys in the last decade showing high levels of sexism and harassment in most schools.

Last week a major academy chain in Greater Manchester contacted us to discuss training for all the trainee and practising teachers in their schools, so we hope others will see the need too.As part of the dissemination of our European project we are putting on a free training event for teachers on 7th and 14th July with a free book and resources for those attending.

One of the books is ‘Gender Equality in Primary Schools: A Guide for Teachers’ by my colleague Helen Griffin, described by Let Toys Be Toys as “Essential reading… to enable schools to understand why and how to challenge gender stereotypes.”