Laura Bloody-Bates (Special Snowflake) would be proud of them. A piece in today’s Sunday Times:
Children at a state primary school have been taught to hold up posters rejecting the use of “sexist” language by teachers.
Words and phrases banned at Anderton Park primary in Birmingham include “let’s go, guys”, “man up”, “grow a pair” and even “boys and girls”. The training starts in the nursery with children as young as three.
Pupils who challenge sexist language, such as calling an assertive girl “bossy” or saying “boys don’t cry”, are rewarded with a certificate. Children also monitor their reading books and worksheets for sexist stereotypes. Two certificates are handed out in each class weekly to pupils who come up with the most telling examples.
Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, the head teacher, said: “The phrase ‘Good morning boys and girls’ is not used in this school. Instead all teachers say, ‘Good morning everyone’.
“Girls have posters they hold up every time one of the teachers says, ‘Come on guys’. The posters say, ‘Sir, I am not a guy.’ Sometimes the teacher still forgets and it slips out, but our training here shows that if you are resolute you can stamp this out.” She said the posters were “a fun way of making the point”.
Stereotypical language has power, Hewitt-Clarkson said. “So many people use ‘running like a girl’ and think that is funny, but no one would say ‘running like a black’ … If you say ‘man up’ you are saying there is one way to be a boy and you are not following it. ‘Guys’ is an interesting example of how a word that signifies men has come to be used for everyone … We teachers must put a stop to sexist language.”
Hewitt-Clarkson decided to speak out about the policies she has put in place after the alleged murder of Sarah Everard, 33, who vanished while walking home last month in south London. More than 11,000 anonymous accounts of sexual violence, harassment and sexism in schools and universities were then posted on the website Everyone’s Invited, which aims to stamp out “rape culture” in British society.
Hewitt-Clarkson said: “All this sexism is a spectrum which extends from a teacher using the word ‘guys’ and not meaning anything harmful by it … to the rape, torture and murder of women. [J4MB emphasis] All these things are part of a jigsaw that suggests girls are lesser than boys. We have to unpick all the ways that that idea is drip-fed into our consciousness.”
One member of staff at the 500-pupil school, where many pupils are Muslim, was summoned to a professional conduct meeting for telling pupils that “boys don’t skip”.
“The children ran into my office one playtime and said, ‘Miss, Miss, something terrible has happened . . . one of the supervisors has just taken a skipping rope off a boy and said boys don’t skip.’ They were rightly absolutely horrified. It was brilliant that they ran in to tell me,” Hewitt-Clarkson said.
“We need to be horrified at sexist words and phrases. That was a serious issue for that member of staff. I held a professional conduct meeting with the supervisor, and I made it clear that you must never say those things ever as an adult working in a school.” The assistant has since left.
Hewitt-Clarkson invented the anti-sexism programme at Anderton Park and has trained more than 80 teachers across England to use it. It includes being vigilant about behaviour as well as language: “Simple things like lining up to go into assembly — schools have a boys’ line and a girls’ line. We do not do that here. We do boy, girl, boy, girl walking into assembly. At Anderton Park both boys and girls play netball and football in mixed teams.
She said harmful stereotypes damaged boys as well as girls. “Suicide is the highest killer among young British men . . . We would not expect any teacher here to say that boys don’t cry. Those harmful stereotypes are part of the reason for the very high male suicide figures. When we interview anyone for any job in this school we always ask, What would you do if a boy said, ‘I am not using that pink highlighter pen because pink is for girls’?”
Similar programmes in America have been criticised as “woke weaning”.
Chris McGovern, a former primary school head and now chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: “Teaching young children about sexism is woke-weaning and it is cruel. We are saying to children who do not use what is seen as politically correct language that they are at fault. It gives them a sense of guilt . . . We are loading onto the backs of young children the angst and concerns of adults.”
Anderton Park primary is no stranger to controversy and Hewitt-Clarkson herself has been subject to threats of violence. In 2019 the school, backed by Birmingham city council, had to ask the High Court for an order banning protests by parents and activists near the school gates against the use of picture books to teach children about same-sex families.
The school became the first in the UK to be surrounded by an exclusion zone, within which demonstrations are banned. Hewitt-Clarkson was added to a police fast response scheme in the event of an incident at her home. She has received death threats on social media.
You can subscribe to The Times here.
Our last general election manifesto is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.
Nobody connected with J4MB has ever drawn any personal income from the party’s income streams. If you’d like to support Mike Buchanan financially, you can do so via his Patreon account or through Bitcoin, his account address is 1EfWxqDAtgJDCR3tVpvVj4fXSuUu4S9WJf . Thank you.