Deadline on bids to axe gender bias

New legislation requires equality in execution of many school policies and recruitment

SCHOOLS MUST complete reports by Monday explaining what they are doing to avoid gender stereotyping pupils and staff.

New regulations require schools to look at everything from the recruitment of women managers to whether teaching methods favour one sex over another.

Headteachers and governors are expected to have drawn up a "gender equality action plan" assessing areas such as their curriculum, uniform, exercise, admissions and discipline policies.

They will need to explain how they ensure that pupils are not put off subjects because of their gender. Historically, disproportionate numbers of boys have opted for technology related subjects while girls have chosen languages.

Headteachers have criticised the regulations for adding to the overload of bureaucracy in schools.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "All this does is make more work for schools. They are already keeping an eye on this sort of thing anyway. It is just another layer of bureaucracy."

Mike Griffiths, a Northamptonshire headteacher who received 40 pages of guidance on the matter, said the regulations would make "not one iota" of difference to school life.

"It is in my in-tray at the moment and it will fall on me to do it," he said. "We'll tick the box so Ofsted knows it's been done, and it probably won't go further than that."

But Kate Myers, a senior associate in leadership for learning at Cambridge University, defends the regulations in today's TES. "Many boys and girls continue to opt for subjects traditionally associated with their gender,"

she says. "When they reach the workplace, on average young women will earn 82.9 per cent of men's pay. Schools may not be able to change the world, but they can challenge, encourage and widen horizons."

Rob Holdsworth, a spokesman for the Equal Opportunities Commission, said headteachers should not treat it as "a tick-box exercise".

"We want schools to look at issues such as why there are not more male teachers in primaries or women in senior positions," he said.

* www.eoc.org.uk

Kate Myers, page 26

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