Hello friends – hard to believe we’re already in March, isn’t it?! 2022 was a huge year for our campaign and we’ve got more big plans as we move further into 2023. To keep you all in the loop with the latest actions and triumphs, we thought we’d pull together a roundup of everything that’s been going on and what you can look forward to seeing from the campaign this year.
Looking back at 2022
The highlight of the year was definitely the launch of Balancing the Books – Gender Bias in the KS3 English Curriculum. If you haven’t read our report yet you can find it here. The main findings were that women’s voices are significantly underrepresented in students’ learning, with 82% of novels taught featuring a male protagonist. We also found that 99% of plays taught are authored by men and 77% of schools teach only one or no whole texts by female authors. Definitely room for improvement (as my old school report used to say).
There has been some fantastic media coverage of the research. The Women’s Prize for Fiction has launched a campaign to encourage more men to read novels by women. In an episode of Women’s Hour, author Kate Mosse – a best-selling novelist, playwright and founder director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction – talked about why this is important and quotes our research as an example of why men read so few books by women. [Listen on BBC Sounds from 26 mins 26 seconds.]
In an article for The Guardian that listed books by women that every man should read, the fabulous Mary Ann Sieghart quoted our research to highlight one of the reasons men fear books by women.
We were also delighted to present the research findings at the NASUWT Conference in October, where we were invited to deliver a workshop. Rachel and Tracey were speaking in front of a mixture of live and on-line union members about the rationale behind the ESIS campaign and its role in reducing violent and abusive behaviour towards women and girls plus offering suggestions and support as to how teachers can make changes in their own organisations and classroom practice to increase female visibiity within the curriculum. The talk was followed by a chance for union members to ask questions and, later, to have productive discussions over coffee! Rachel and Tracey have over 20 years of teaching experience between them and appreciate how important teachers are in getting the ESIS message across within schools. Because of this, they hope to have the opportunity to do more work with the NASUWT in the future.
Finally, we were fortunate to be invited back to Radio Shropshire to share the findings of our research and highlight what we hope to see change in our schools in response. Huge thanks to Jim Hawkins for his continued support of our campaign.
Another important development in 2022, was the launch of monthly introductory Zoom sessions for new volunteers who are interested in supporting the campaign. If you think you’d like to do more to help us or just want to find out what we’re up to, get in touch for details of the next session.
What’s in the pipeline for 2023?
Following our success with the English KS3 curriculum, we’re now on the verge of being able to publish our follow up report exploring gender bias in the GCSE English Literature curriculum – watch this space! We are also gearing up to start the next phase of our campaign by exploring bias in the History curriculum. The task force is busy working out how best to tackle this programme: setting some objectives and planning research questions. Keep an eye out for future updates or let us know if you want to get involved in this initiative.
Earlier this month our campaigner Rachel Fenn, herself an experienced English teacher and playwright, was invited to take part in a discussion on the impact Andrew Tate has on school-age boys by BBC Hereford and Worcester. You can listen to the audio clip here from 03:38:00. We were also invited to comment on Tate’s impact by Glamour Magazine. You can read what Katrina Handford, who helps lead our campaign, had to say here.
We are also busy preparing a range of materials to support teachers tackle gender inequality in their schools. So far we have produced a CPD for teachers on Gender Equalising Your English Curriculum, as well as English schemes of work for years 7, 8 and 9 with recommended texts for study by women authors. All these resources can be downloaded for free from our resources page. If you do download and use them, we’d love to hear your feedback so we can continue to produce useful resources that help you make real change in your schools.
Finally, our Jen delivered a CPD session to trainee teachers at Bright Futures SCITT, exploring a whole school approach to tackling misogyny in both school culture and curriculum, which was well received, with some really insightful discussions taking place amongst the trainees and lots of enthusiasm for making change in their placement schools and as they progress in their careers.
We need your help!
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Thanks so much for reading and for all of your fantastic support. If you have any questions about this newsletter or the work we are doing, please get in touch at email@example.com.