This blog is a letter sent by Lucy Powell and Kate Green to the education secretary and equalities minister Nicky Morgan on Friday 20 November, calling for the reinstatement of the study of feminism and gender equality to the AS and A-Level syllabuses
Dear Nicky Morgan,
This month your department published draft subject content for the reformed AS and A-Level politics.
As minister for women and equalities, alongside your role as education secretary, you will of course understand just how important it is for our country to tackle gender inequality once and for all. Women in the UK are twice as likely to live in poverty, are far more likely to be impacted than men by changes to tax credits, and are now effectively working for free until the end of the year thanks to the persistent gender pay gap.
We are concerned, therefore, that one outcome of your Department's review of the politics A-Level, has been to drop the key concepts of feminism and gender equality.
We believe that it is crucial that we support all girls and women in our country, from the classroom to the boardroom. As part of this, we must encourage our young people to discuss and explore the core ideas behind how we can work towards equality between the genders. We also feel it is just as important to provide the space for young men to discuss the issues that can arise from gender and increase understanding of feminism, as it is for young women.
Just this week you said that you were committed to ensuring equality of opportunity is at the core of this Government's agenda so that every woman and girl has every opportunity to reach their potential. We struggle to see how removing these topics from the curriculum helps to achieve this worthy aim.
We had hoped this was an oversight that would be rectified following the draft's consultation. However, it has since been reported that your Department has attempted to justify the decision through the pretence of giving schools more freedom. Whilst trusting headteachers is undoubtedly important, it strikes us as odd that the Department is content for this freedom not to extend to requiring students to know and understand the ideas of fifteen different male political thinkers, and just one woman. As a result, the decision to drop these topics comes with the real risk of sending a message to the next generation that government thinks issues of equality are not a priority.
It is vital that we ensure that the new curriculums in all subjects are of the highest quality and provide our young people with strong knowledge and skills for the future. The decision to erase feminism from politics will limit opportunities for students, both male and female, to study the history and future of gender equality. We're calling on you now to reconsider and reinstate these vitally important topics in the final draft.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Education Secretary
Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities