Schools unite to address the root causes of gender inequality
Sixth form ambassadors lead workshops for pupils of local primary schools
In a ground-breaking initiative, sixth formers from a state and an independent school are helping pupils from six local primary schools to learn how to recognise, challenge and address issues that directly and indirectly fuel gender inequality in society. Twelve Sixth Form ambassadors from Bryanston and The Blandford School have just delivered a series of special discussion workshops for Year 6 pupils from primary schools in the Blandford Schools’ Network - including Spetisbury, Durweston, Pimperne, Milldown and Dunbury, as well as Bryanston Knighton House.
The workshops were the focus of a Nurturing Equality Festival organised by the youth-led social enterprise, Bold Voices, as the culmination of its year-long gender equality education programme working with pupils at Bryanston. The festival has brought younger and older pupils together to develop awareness and skills that will help minimise the risk of gender inequality overshadowing the lives of the next generation.
“Gender inequality and gender-based violence have plagued society for far too long, but changing behaviours and attitudes is a progressive process and there is no doubt that the real solutions lie in the voices of the next generation,” says Natasha Eeles, the Founder of Bold Voices. “Having worked closely with pupils at Bryanston for the past year we've seen their passion and engagement in every interaction. This pioneering festival is an excellent way to see and celebrate the power of that participation and student voice in a way that provides practical support for young children who are about to make such an important transition to secondary school.
The workshops at the Festival were led by facilitators from Bold Voices and the Sixth Form ambassadors. They encouraged open discussion around the challenges associated with gender inequality and the importance of taking personal responsibility to address the issues that can directly and indirectly normalise sexual prejudice, stereotypes and violence.
“All of the ambassadors benefitted from the insight and guidance of Bold Voices in preparing for delivery of the Festival workshops,” says Kyle Haines a Sixth Former at The Blandford School. “The day itself was a great success and, from the feedback we received, I know just how much our young participants appreciated a learning experience based on open discussions amongst themselves and with those of us who are approaching the end of our school years. There really was a sense of togetherness and a collective determination to make a difference.”
“The Bold Voices programme has shown that each and every one of us has a role to play in addressing the issues around such an important topic,” adds Anoushka Anguiano, another Bold Voices ambassador and a Sixth Former at Bryanston. “We were able to show how flippant and disrespectful comments can perpetuate damaging gender stereotypes that can so easily lead to very harmful consequences. By raising awareness and demonstrating how to recognise and challenge stereotypes and different types of gender inequality, I feel sure we have provided additional confidence and assurance for children about to move into senior school.”
Oli Nicholson, a Teacher of English at Bryanston and the co-ordinator of the school’s Bold Voices programme says gender inequality and gender-based violence are very challenging topics that demand a fresh and interactive learning experience. “Having Sixth Form students educating younger people, and not only encouraging them to discuss the subject openly but also to recognise the shared benefits of equality, is a huge step forward.
“We’re delighted with the way the programme has developed throughout the year, and the enthusiasm shown by boys and girls across all year groups is really encouraging. However, the Nurturing Equality Festival takes the discussion onto another level altogether. I have no doubt the active and enthusiastic participation of pupils from so many other local schools will prove invaluable in helping to foster a healthy behavioural shift towards mutual respect and equality.”
It is hoped that the success of the partnership between Bold Voices, Bryanston and Blandford School will act as a model for similar school partnerships around the country and that the Nurturing Equality Festival will now become an annual fixture for schools within the Blandford Schools’ Network. The far-reaching Bold Voices programme at Bryanston has engaged and empowered not only pupils and staff, but also the wider community. The programme will now become an integral feature of Bryanston’s Relationships and Sex Education syllabus.
1. Bryanston + BV - l-r - Anna Lincoln, Yosh Soliman and Natasha Eeles from Bold Voices welcome pupils to the Nurturing Equality Festival.
2. Bryanston + BV - Bryanston Sixth Former and Bold Voices ambassador, Anoushka Anguiano, overseeing a workshop with pupils from Durweston CE VA Primary School.