Gender and the National Curriculum for Wales.

As a new curriculum for Wales is developed it’s vital that the opportunity is seized to address long-standing gender imbalances.

The review of the Welsh National Curriculum being conducted by Professor Graham Donaldson has proposed far reaching changes to the way that children in Wales are taught.

The initial report — “Successful Futures: Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales” — presents a curriculum that aims for children to leave education with more than just academic skills, preparing them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

This is a stance that Chwarae Teg supports and it reflects much of what we fed into the original consultation.

Gender continues to affect the life choices of boys and girls, influencing the subjects and careers they often choose to follow.

This is why we believe that gender should be a core consideration as the new curriculum is developed.

If we can ensure that our children learn in gender inclusive environments which challenge rather than perpetuate gender stereotypes, significant progress can be made in tackling the occupational segregation that continues to contribute to the gender pay gap.

There are a number of areas in the proposed new curriculum where gender should be a consideration and also areas that can be used to actively address gender inequality.

The proposals include 6 “Areas of Learning” which will replace the current subject based curriculum. Two areas of particular interest to us are:

  • Maths, Science & Technology — these subjects would remain key elements of the curriculum. Traditionally these areas see the number of female students drop as the qualification level rises. It’s important that these subjects are delivered in a way that is sensitive to this imbalance and seeks to address it.
  • Health and well-being — Equipping young people with an understanding of what constitutes healthy relationships and a commitment to equality and respect for others is an essential part of building a fairer and more equal Wales.

    This element of the curriculum should include specific focus on challenging traditional ideas about men and women’s roles and tackling perceptions created by the portrayal of women in the media. This can be more easily achieved through a whole school approach to gender inclusivity.

A new curriculum must seek to equip young people with the skills needed to succeed in work and life, regardless of their gender.

It will be stronger and better able to deliver on this if gender is considered throughout the development process.

We must take this opportunity to build a curriculum that can play a key role in building a Wales where women achieve and prosper.

 

By Natasha Davies. Policy Partner, Chwarae Teg. Follow on Twitter.