22nd January 2018
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Schools should teach more 'nuanced' view of feminism, Girls' School Association president says
Women are held back by outdated ideas about what they should be able to achieve in their professional and personal life, according to the new head of the Girls' School Association.
In her first interview since taking up the post, Gwen Byrom, 47, headmistress of Loughborough High School, said the idea that schools must teach a more nuanced version of feminism.
She said that encouraging young women to aspire to positions of power is one of her top priorities in the role but she wants them to realise they will need to balance careers and family.
'One message is that you can't be a successful leader if you have children. The other message has been in the past that you can have it all, you can have everything and do everything,'
Mrs Byrom has five children aged between two and 19 years old.
She said: 'I wouldn't necessarily set myself up as a role model for the girls in my school - but they may look at me and say if the head can do it, if the head can have a family and a busy job, then maybe I can as well.'
Creativity can be taught to anyone. So why are we leaving it to private schools?
The creative industries are the fastest growing part of the UK’s economy, one of the few sectors in which we are celebrated world leaders and in which there is huge employment growth. We are the world’s third largest cultural exporters, after China and the US. Last year the creative industries were worth £92bn to the UK economy. The sector returns more golden eggs every year to the Treasury than the automotive, oil, gas, aerospace and life science industries combined, and for every £1 invested in subsidy the government gets £5 returned in taxes.
Since 2010 there has been a 28% drop in the number of children taking creative GCSEs, with a corresponding drop in the number of specialist arts teachers being trained. Hardly surprising when the Ebacc, a government school performance measure focusing on a core set of academic subjects studied for GCSE, does not include a single creative discipline. Add the funding squeeze into the mix, and the result is that the practice and study of drama, design, music and art are rapidly disappearing from the curriculum. The pipeline of talent into the industry is being cut off by the government’s misguided sidelining of creativity in education.
This is the opposite of what happens in our private schools, our top universities, and the state schools where inspired teaching and leadership pulls determinedly against the prevailing and constrictive tide. The three theatres at Eton are among the best equipped in the country because the school knows this is a crucial aspect of its offer. Creative confidence brings initiative and freedom of thought, an understanding of teamwork and communication that sits at the heart of a dynamic and successful working life.
Maybe there’s a theory that if the whole sector is covered adequately within the private system, there is no need to add to the demands on the already-stretched state system. But whatever the reason, the result is that another myth, deeply embedded in our peculiarly British psyche, is being reinforced: that culture and creativity belong naturally to the elite, that they are not for everyone.
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