A class of 10-year-olds are sitting on the carpet looking at their teacher with open mouths. Their faces say: outrage. Their teacher, Rosemary O’Brien, has put up a statement on the board – a real one, by the Football Association in 1921. Football is “quite unsuitable for females”, it says. Across the classroom, pupils are voicing their disagreement. The Guardian reports.
An experiment in this school over the past year has conspicuously transformed the way pupils and teachers think about males and females and their roles, as documented in a report to be published this week.
So what have teachers done to change? For the past year, five schools have been participating in the pilot of a programme created and run by a non-profit organisation, Lifting Limits, which encouraged school staff to analyse every little thing they did in the classroom through a “gender equality” lens.
To make it all happen, a senior teacher was appointed in each school as a “gender champion” to oversee the programme. As well as discussion cards and resources for assemblies and parent workshops, lesson plans were provided: in maths, children were asked to compare data about the number of female MPs, while in geography, they discussed who could be an explorer and why.
Back at Torriano primary, John, aged 10, wears make-up sometimes and wants to become a dancer. Over the past year, he has gained confidence to be himself, he says. “Gender shouldn’t affect your life in any way. There shouldn’t be any boundaries for women or men. We should be able to do what we want, as equals.”
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