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 Ade: My research so far this term

Background: Each Friday all of the children across the school have the opportunity to take part in a Golden Time /Enrichment activity. Children would commit to that activity for the whole half term, then choose a new one for the following half term, and so on.

We found that certain activities had high numbers of girls and low numbers of boys, and vice versa. We decided to see if we could do anything to make address this imbalance.

  • Firstly, we decided to rebrand the activities. This meant dropping the subject name (eg sewing ) and giving it a question as a title (eg Can you make your own clothes?)
  • Then, each class discussed aspirations and interests as a circle time activity. Other activities were taken from the NUT’s ‘Breaking the Mould’ documents:
  • All the children were also shown the display (shown below) and encouraged to comment on it and to respond to questions such as ‘Boys can’t sew. Agree or disagree?’
  • Finally, the children were then given the opportunity to choose their new Golden Time / Enrichment activity. The results of this indicate that the childrDisplayen were more willing to participate in activities that stereotypes may have previously put them off doing. However, it is clear that there is still much more work to be done, particularly with enrichment activities such as the construction based group which currently has 21 boys and 1 girl.

Our next steps will include:

  • Another circle time activity.
  • Editing each signing up sheet so that half of the spaces are for girls and half are for boys. By doing this I hope to make it explicit that it is normal for boys and girls participate in all of the activities.

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Teacher Blog Stephen: Christmas in EYFS

Who would have thought that a discussion amongst four year olds about a baby born at Christmas time would have generated so much discussion with regards to gender?

Two of the four-year-old girls were sat dressed up in nativity costumes exploring a book of Christmas carols. The children thought that the baby in the drawing, in the arms of Mary, was calm, peaceful and quiet. I suggested it might be a boy, but they had already decided it was a girl. I then told them that the drawing was of baby Jesus, a baby boy. I explained that all babies can be calm, peaceful and quiet, in the same way that they can also be excitable and loud at times too. The baby was calm because he was in the loving arms of his family.

The rest of the conversation then resorted to the usual pattern of colours and gender, which I have experienced many times before.

Later on the two girls  were looking at the shepherds looking after the sheep. Even with the drawing of both men and women as shepherds the children stated that ‘Only men can be shepherds.’

I responded that ‘Shepherdesses’ are women that look after sheep and that it’s not just men that do this.

You can understand why young children might think this. Over the next three weeks many schools will be having the boys play the shepherds and the girls, angels in nativity plays, even though we know Angel Gabriel was a man (as far as angels have a gender) and that women worked as shepherdesses in the hills.


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Pinned post: About the Gender Respect Education Project

In February 2016 we brought together the young people from the project schools for a day of awareness raising and developing actions and sharing them. Here’s the film:Screen shot 2016-03-15 at 17.42.32

We followed this up with a second pupil conference in June 2016 to give the young people a chance to share actions they had taken and to learn some more about related topics. Here’s the film:


DECSY’s Gender Respect Education Project grew out of One Billion Rising ( which inspired women and girls, and men who love them, to come out on the streets of more than 50 different cities across the globe on 14th February 2013. They called for the end of violence to women and girls in a life affirming demonstration of dance, banners and testimonies. The internet and social media were particularly relevant in this mobilisation and also in capturing the connecting power of seeing women in Kabul, Delhi, Manila and Sheffield out on the streets doing the same dance. One Billion Rising stimulated a debate at Westminster calling for much more attention to relationship education in schools. One Billion Rising is part of V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls ( The three year (2013-2016) Gender Respect Education Project aims to help children and young people to understand, question and challenge gender inequality and violence in a local-global context. We are bringing together teachers of pupils aged 4-14 along with creative practitioners and young people to develop engaging, participatory and creative curriculum activities and materials which  will be disseminated widely through CPD / INSET.

A paper on the background theory for the project can be found here.  For a powerpoint introduction to the project click here.  A scoping study was carried out as part of the project.  The full report and a summary is now available.

The project report can be found here.