Nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools are signing up to a scheme telling them to stop calling students ‘girls’ and ‘boys’. The scheme is run by (you guessed it) Stonewall which has said it will give awards to schools that remove “any unnecessary gendered language from the classrooms”. Over 300 schools have signed up to this scheme. The charity advises teachers to refer to all children as “they” or “young people” and wants boys and girls to wear the same uniform.
This takes place against a background of falling educational standards in literacy and numeracy. For example, every year it is estimated that 200,000 children leave primary school unable to read or write to the required level; 413,000 children do not own a single book and one in five children struggle to read and write at all. And, just to pour salt into the wound, school closures as a result of COVID-19 have made these statistics even worse, with the reading skills of many disadvantaged children regressing during the pandemic. The percentage reaching the expected standard in reading fell from 75% to 67% between 2019 and 2022, then fell again from 69% to 58% in 2023.
There are different ‘badges’ attached to Stonewall’s scheme, depending on how compliant the school is: Bronze, Silver and Gold. For schools to be eligible for the Gold badge they must have been part of the scheme for at least two years and provide evidence of their commitment to inclusion in lessons, as well as have inclusive policies. Some examples of what schools can do helpfully suggested by Stonewall are: a PE teacher could address his or her class by saying “boys, girls and non-binary students, pick your team now” or use non-gendered language such as “students, pick your team now”; make sure members of staff are not using phrases such as “man up” or “don’t be such a girl”; and, of course, schools should install gender neutral toilets.
Any educational institution catering to pupils aged two to 18 can join Stonewall’s scheme, with membership costing £99 per year. So, if the above 300 schools have signed up and it takes two years to get the ‘gold status’, Stonewall will earn £59,400. But if more schools sign up this could become a real cash cow for Stonewall.
The Department for Education (DfE) has already shunned this charity saying:
We withdrew from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme in 2022 and have not funded any programmes related to diversity and inclusion schemes since to ensure value for money to the taxpayer.