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Consultant For a Day

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I'm aware that the last thing on many teachers' minds, when it comes to the 30 November, is the deadline for the government's consultation on the National Curriculum. The proposed day of strike action over cuts to teachers' pensions is a somewhat more resonant issue.

Even so, I just want to tap you on the (virtual) shoulder to let you know that you still have time to submit your views to the Department of Eduction here. Teachers and parents' views are sought.

Why is this worth your time? Well, it's an opportunity to tell the government which elements of the National Curriculum you think are indispensable "core knowledge," and why.

This is of interest to anyone who teaches Personal, Social, Health and Economics subjects, including Sex and Relationships, and Citizenship. Did a shudder run through you when Nadine Dorries made the latest - and not the last - assault on gender equality with her proposal for abstinence education for girls only? Please speak up now, as those who struggle to grasp the importance of including boys in progressive approaches to SRE probably will.

It's of interest to anyone who aims to bring feminism into their classroom and to teach the curriculum in a way that minimises gender bias. Have you noticed that the contributions of women scientists or historical figures are glossed over or relegated to the sidebars of textbooks? Here's an opportunity to tell the government that knowledge generated by women is core knowledge, as is a critical look at why it is so often minimised and erased. Paying lip service to women's contributions is not gender mainstreaming.

It matters to any parent who expects social justice and critical thinking to be essential aspects of schooling. Are you delighted that a teacher in your child's school is teaching Citizenship by getting pupils to write letters for Amnesty? Has your child given you good feedback about a drama workshop on domestic violence or bullying? Let the government know that this matters to you, your family and community.

It matters to parents who don't want official and unofficial curricula which school their offspring in ways that compound prejudice and privilege. Against the backdrop of austerity measures turning the clock back on gender equality, decreasing social mobility and restricted access to higher education it's more important than ever that young people - and, indeed, teachers - are given the space and support to analyse the myths, customs and aspects of culture that cause demoralisation, division and discord. Applying a gender lens to cultural practices can be very revealing. We can ask for Gender Studies in the curriculum.

Do you recognise yourself here? If so, perhaps you may want to participate in the consultation. You don't need to answer all the questions, just the ones relevant to your interest and experience.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who decides to put their views on the record.