Schools Minister says feminism can be taught in citizenship classes too; but A level win is significant

In Monday’s debate about keeping feminism in A level politics, Schools Minister Nick Gibb told the House of Commons that the subject can be taught in other subjects too, such as citizenship. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will be.

A Suffragette procession from 1911

Monday’s debate was the result of uproar last year when the UK Government decided to drop feminism from A level politics.

That decision has now been reversed, and Schools Minister Nick Gibb lost no time in taking the opportunity to claim the issue as one close to the Government’s heart:

‘We believe that pupils must learn from a young age that treating everyone equally and fairly in all spheres of life is part of the democratic values we are proud to enjoy and uphold’.

He went on to tell MPs about other opportunities his Government’s school curriculum provides for teaching about issues like feminism, such as the citizenship curriculum:

‘In addition to the role they play in teaching children about the lives and contribution of women, schools can teach feminism as part of citizenship education, which is in the national curriculum at key stages 3 and 4 and is designed to foster pupils’ awareness and understanding of democracy, governance and how laws are made and upheld, of which the suffrage movement is a vital part’.

Of course, these are just opportunities: feminism is not set out explicitly in the programmes of study for citizenship, so teachers can ignore it if they wish.

The same goes for other curriculum subjects: primary pupils, as Mr Gibb also claimed, ‘can be taught about the work of Jane Goodall, the renowned anthropologist, and the palaeontologist Mary Anning’ in science lessons – but it doesn’t mean they will be.

Therefore this victory for feminism in A level politics can be seen as an important one, because it remains explicit at that level and can’t be avoided.

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

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