Gender Respect Project 2013-2016

Aiming to help children and young people to understand, question and challenge gender inequality and violence.

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Teacher blog, Stephen: Adults modelling respect for each other is so important

At a meeting today Helen suggested I put in writing something I observe in schools everyday.

I consider myself lucky to be in a school where the adults recognise that children observe how the adults in the school interact with each other. There seems little point preparing PSHE lessons in schools where the adults have little or no respect for each other.

It’s pointless the children hearing what is taught but seeing the adults doing the complete opposite. This confuses them and it may result in children starting to copy this behaviour themselves.

Schools that have a mixture of male and female staff have to be very wary that they do not send the message that ‘it’s the male staff who deal with behaviour’.

Behaviour should be addressed by the member of staff who is dealing with it, with other staff in a supportive role offering their presence but not being seen to take over.

Schools are not looking for superheros who come charging in to the rescue undermining everyone else in the process. The child seeing that the female dinner supervisor is dealing with it helps the child understand that all staff, whether female or male, teacher or not, are capable of managing behaviour. This respect for all the adults then influences how the child perceives the different genders in school.

I also think female staff can help male staff by helping to get across the caring side of male staff to pupils and male staff can help by getting across the message that female staff are more than capable of taking a lead on behavioural issues.

Challenging the ‘Wait til your dad gets home’ message, or the threat of ‘If you don’t behave I will send you to Mr….’ is key to challenging gender stereotypes in schools.

These gender perceptions are not healthy for any community and in my experience males in schools don’t want to be perceived as uncaring.

On the flip side I think female members of staff don’t need or want people undermining their authority by children seeing males as the only ones in authority. That’s why I like the phrase TEAM TEACH.

Behaviour should always be managed by a TEAM.

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Teacher blog, Stephen: Wow! It’s working

We spend so much time formulating ideas to challenge stereotypes and perceptions of children, but are they working?

I’m sat chatting at the Playdough station with a group of older nursery children, when suddenly one of the boys asks me,

‘Do you like pink?’

‘Yes I do. That’s why I wear a pink shirt or jumper to nursery sometimes.’

‘I don’t’ he says.


‘I just don’t.’

One of the girls joins in, ‘I like pink and I like all colours.’

The title of this blog is ‘Wow its working’ because although the boy doesn’t like the colour pink, he had noticed the colour of the jumper I had been wearing and wanted to talk to me about it.

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Teacher blog, Stephen: Colours mean so much

Because of a mixture of new starters and older children, the first half term in nursery is very busy, with lots of conversation as the children get to know each other.

I was cold one morning so I wore my pink/purple jumper.

I sat at a table full of maths games.

Two of the older nursery girls join me and started to play and started to giggle at my jumper.

‘What’s so funny?’ I said. ‘Its my favourite colour.’

‘Its pink, boys can’t have pink as a favourite colour.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because you’re a boy.’

Once again, these children were as young as three, but had already formed gender stereotypes regarding specific colours.

A lovely and insightful conversation.

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Teacher blog, Stephen: Baking

The activity was baking buns. The mixture was ready and the children were ready to choose a coloured bun case. When it came to my turn I chose pink.

Two of the girls giggled, then commented,

‘You can’t choose pink its a girls colour.’ Other children around the table agreed.

I asked, ‘Why?’

‘It just is. We have pink and boys have blue.’

I then said, ‘I like pink and it’s a colour I have chosen.’

Then one of the boys spoke up saying that he liked pink too.

I feel that my choice gave him the courage to share his preference. The conversation confirmed to the children that everyone can have a favourite colour and they should be free to make their own choice.