Citizenship lessons are ideal spaces for addressing gender equality

At a Girl Guiding UK event last week I heard Lynne Featherstone MP speak passionately about the imbalance in opportunities for men and women and of the government’s desire to address this.

Before she spoke there were energetic discussions about the pressures on young women, where they stem from and how to challenge them.

With my Citizenship Foundation hat on, I put it to a few other delegates that the citizenship curriculum provided an important space to challenge gender stereotypes. They all agreed.

Yet we expect Michael Gove to remove citizenship’s status as a statutory curriculum subject. So while Lynne Featherstone is finding opportunities for young women to thrive, her colleague Mr Gove is in danger of taking away some of those very opportunities.

Therefore I wrote to Lynne Featherstone to ask if we had her support in government:

Dear Lynne,

It was very good to hear you speak at Girlguiding UK’s round-table event last night. I was encouraged by the extent of the government’s work in addressing gender issues.

However, I asked a few delegates if they thought young women would be further disadvantaged by the removal of citizenship from the National Curriculum. The answer was a resounding yes: taking away such structured support for engaging with societal issues and challenging stereotypes can only be a backward step.

Yet it seems clear that citizenship will not survive the Curriculum Review.

Citizenship classes expose young people to the complexities of society and develop their engagement with political and legal issues, in a safe and structured environment. And they enable students to address issues arising from differences such as gender before those issues become a problem.

As you said last night, the government is passionate about tackling gender equality. The citizenship curriculum is the ideal place to support this in school.

Can we count on your voice in government to defend this space on the curriculum?

Yours sincerely,

Michael Grimes

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

Leave a Reply