Gender in the UK – Girls in a Mixed School

How can you support girls in male-dominated schools? When Linda Austin started teaching in the 1980s, the women’s movement was challenging an education status quo that, the movement claimed, systematically discriminated against girls. In 1990 Linda became the first headteacher of Swanlea School in the East End of London, whose intake then and now is dominated by boys (a common situation in areas where there are a number of local girls-only schools). This programme shows how the school has taken steps to ensure that, though its girls are in a numerical minority, it is not an oppressed minority. For example, the school organises a number of all-boy tutor groups, so every mixed class has broadly equal numbers of boys and girls. Throughout the school, the girls’ voices are heard loud and clear, and they have every opportunity to fully achieve their educational potential.

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