Are GCSEs split on gender lines?

L-R Zosia Lyall 12, Marta Lyall, Clare Keating, Henrietta Clavering, Scarlett Keating 13, angry at gender inequality in subjects for girls in GCSEs at Kesteven and Sleaford high School. EMN-180115-093833001
L-R Zosia Lyall 12, Marta Lyall, Clare Keating, Henrietta Clavering, Scarlett Keating 13, angry at gender inequality in subjects for girls in GCSEs at Kesteven and Sleaford high School. EMN-180115-093833001

Several parents of children attending a Sleaford school are angry at what they feel is gender inequality in GCSE subject provision.

Clare Keating and Henrietta Clavering have daughters attending Kesteven and Sleaford High School considering their GCSE subject options to study.

Clare, from Witham St Hughes, said she noted the GCSE options available at Kesteven and Sleaford school booklet and compared them with those for Carre’s students. Both are part of the Robert Carre Multi Academy Trust.

As well as the usual subjects, she said: “Carre’s offers the additional choice of Business and Engineering, KSHS offers Drama, Food and Textiles.”

She saw this as a split down traditional gender lines with little offered for girls in areas of business and engineering where employers are bemoaning a skills gap. She said: “Clearly the subjects are inherently entrenched in gender role stereotypes which is indefensible.

“The school have offered a presumed choice, not an informed choice. Why not offer the subjects to all students to gauge interest, after all it is in their interest for them to have a say in their futures?”

Although the students can choose a wider range of subjects at A level, she believed by not doing it at GCSE they would be at a disadvantage. “This is the way the world is going. Instead of encouraging the girls they are holding them back,” said Clare whose job involves helping new businesses start up.

Artist and businesswoman Henrietta Clavering from Beckingham said she was shocked and disappointed. She questioned why the schools were not sharing resources to deliver the same subjects.

In response, Executive Headteacher of the Robert Carre Trust, Nick Law, and Jo Smith, Head of Kesteven and Sleaford High School insisted: “In an ideal world every school would offer any option in which students were interested to every one of their students. However, this simply isn’t viable and so all schools aim to meet the needs and interests of as many of their students as possible, within the resources made available to them by ever tighter Government funding.”

At the same time both schools work with St George’s Academy to offer 50 courses at Sixth Form. They stated performance data suggested that student outcomes were just as strong, adding that students are asked if there are subjects they would prefer to study, for future planning.

Mrs Smith insisted High School girls perform highly in science and maths, taking part in extra curricular STEM events and clubs and taking up engineering scholarships, as well STEM subjects for universities and apprenticeships.

They are looking at a ‘partnership curriculum’ at GCSE for September 2019 and welcomed parents’ support in lobbying the Government via their local MP to secure greater funding.