22nd November 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Schools should stop addressing pupils as 'girls' and 'boys', headteachers told
Teachers should not refer to pupils as “girls" or "ladies” because it means they are “constantly reminded of their gender”, the Government’s former mental health tsar has said.
Natasha Devon told headteachers of the country’s leading girls’ schools that they should be using gender-neutral language when they address their students, and added that the same applied for boys.
Speaking at the Girls’ School Association’s annual conference in Manchester, she said that she would “never walk into a room in an-all girls’ school and say girls or ladies” because it was “patronising”.
She added: “I don’t think it is useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and all the stereotypes that go with it.”
Ms Devon said that rather than addressing children as “boys” or “girls”, teachers should use gender-neutral terms such as “pupils”, “students” or “people”.
“I think actually in some ways boys are more constrained by the expectation of their gender,” she said. “And whilst that is being challenged and changed I don’t think it’s helpful to keep saying ‘girls, girls, girls, boys, boys, boys’, because there is so much implication that potentially goes with that.”
Ms Devon said that using the term “girls” can evoke a sense that they have to do everything perfectly which can “create a lot of anxiety” in children and teenagers.
Meanwhile, the term “boys” carries connotations of “being macho, not talking about your feelings, being told to man up”.
She told headteachers: “If your narrative is saying girls don’t get angry, or boys don’t cry, or girls aren’t allowed to do this, or boys aren’t allowed to do this, then that is potentially going to have an impact on your well-being.
“So I hope that in taking away the negative stereotypes associated with gender, we can ultimately improve their mental health.”
Ms Devon said that another reason not to use gendered terms like girls or boys is because there may be transgender people in the room.
Scottish private boarding school unveils Chinese expansion
A Scottish private school is to expand into China with the help of a former parent.
Merchiston Castle, in Edinburgh, said an international school would be established by September next year in the city of Shenzhen, in Guangdong Province.
The venture comes on the back of a rising demand for British international schools abroad.
Last year, Mary Erskine and Stewart’s Melville schools, also based in Edinburgh, signed an agreement to establish an international school in Shenzhen in 2019.
The Merchiston development came after a year of collaboration with China-based parent and investor Jianjun Lyu.
Mr Lyu decided to help develop a network of Merchiston schools across China after his son attended the Scottish boys boarding school.
The new schools - which will be co-educational - will support a broad curriculum featuring a mix what is currently taught in Merchiston as well as traditional Chinese subjects.
The school said the partnership would have “positive financial gains” which would be used to fund bursaries for Scottish pupils as well as providing finances to expand facilities.
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