Only a quarter of class teachers feel confident about tackling issues related to equality for women and girls, compared to over a third of middle leaders and half of senior leaders, a new survey reveals.
The poll of 500 teachers and leaders at schools belonging to the Girls’ Schools Association found that only 24.2 per cent of class teachers felt confident or very confident about addressing gender equality issues, with some calling for more training on the topic.
However, three quarters of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that they did have the tools, resources and support they needed to each pupils about gender equality.
The survey also revealed that more experience in teaching did not necessarily mean more confidence in addressing issues. Over 32 per cent of teachers with 10 or more years’ experience were confident or very confident, compared to 42.9 per cent of teachers with one year of experience.
Teachers also said they would like further support in discussing issues related to gender and sexism with parents of different religious or cultural backgrounds.
The survey was part of a wider poll of 9,322 pupils in 21 GSA schools, including nine from the state and 12 from the independent sectors. Participants in Years 3 to 13 were asked about their perceptions of gender equality in the outside world and school.
The survey, carried out in partnership with ImpactEd Evaluation, found that, generally, pupils’ perception that there is equality for women and girls decreases with age.
A total of 39.6 per cent of pupils agreed or strongly agreed that their gender influences what people think about them.
The poll also found 80 per cent of all pupils surveyed said they had been taught about equality for women and girls at school. A total of 82 per cent of pupils said they had adults they could talk to about these issues.
The full findings were presented this morning (Nov 21) at the Girls’ Schools Association annual conference in Cirencester.
Fionnuala Kennedy, head at Wimbledon High School GDST, said: “Those of us privileged to work in girls’ schools know how conversations about equality amongst our students are more often than not outward facing – our girls and young women care deeply not just about what happens to their friends and peers, but about the inequalities that women and girls encounter across the board.
“In any GSA member school, lively debates about intersectionality, or about the challenges women face in other countries no doubt abound.
“This focus for the GSA Research Partnership is therefore most welcome as we collectively look to effect change for the future.”
Donna Stevens, CEO of the GSA, added: “Educational leadership in schools that prepares girls for an unequal world serves to create citizens with agency and chutzpah to change the world for the better.
“Our mission is to fuel future generations with an education that understands and is built for young women, and through our research we listen carefully and closely to girls and deliver on our promise to give them voice and priority in education, and in the world beyond.”