The General Secretary of the teaching union NASUWT has announced a ‘national initiative’ to encourage, support and recognise publicly the work of schools on gender inequality.
Speaking at their ‘education and gender quality’ conference in London today, Chris Keates, would launch a Gender Equality Challenge next year.
She said: “With this conference today, we are inviting all schools across the UK to work with us in a national initiative to make a difference on gender equality.
“We cannot and should not rely on government to make a difference, whilst we will continue to press for effective action, we have to take responsibility ourselves.
“The NASUWT will be incentivising schools to engage in practical work which contributes to gender equality in classrooms and in staffrooms.”
To be launched next year on March 8, International Women’s Day, the union will be inviting submission to find ‘beacons of good practice’ from schools across the UK.
This might include how schools contribute to “challenging sexism; ending the sexualisation of girls; tackling violence including female genital mutilation, forced marriage and homophobia and promoting the positive and progressive contribution of women in society, economic cultural and political life.”
Speaking to Schools Week after the announcement, Ms Keates said: “What we’re hoping to do is partner up with a range of organisations to encourage schools to come forward and tell us what they’re doing in terms of curriculum issues to promote gender equality, what they’re doing in terms of work they do in their schools more generally and also what they are doing in terms of their workforce and gender equality.
“We don’t want them to do something new, we want them to tell us what they are already doing so we can be a vehicle for promoting that good practice, showing what can be done in schools and we will want to look at working with other organisations at giving an award to those schools and profiling that publicly.
“It’s about celebrating what is going on out there in schools and also demonstrating to schools that are not as advanced on this agenda that they are getting the opportunity to look at ideas that other schools have used and use those. We are very keen to make this something that focuses not just on children and young people but also on the workforce because you cannot just say “yes we focus on equality issues for children and young people” while at the same time there is wide spread discrimination going on within the workforce in a school. It is a whole school issue and a whole school attitude and that is what we want to bring out and get those good practices.
“We will issue to schools the Gender Equality Challenge materials on International Women’s Day and we will ask them to send in their good practice. We will then have people nationally from a range of organisations judging what they think are some of the best ideas and then we will announce some of those on World Teachers Day which is October 5th 2015.”
Partner organisations in the Gender Equality Challenge are expected to include WISE, a campaign to promote women in science, technology and engineering and Education International, a federation of unions representing education employees internationally.