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Schoolgirls (Achievement)

Volume 173: debated on Thursday 24 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what steps the Government are taking to encourage schools to enable girls to achieve across the curriculum;(2) what advice the Government have given to local education authorities regarding equal opportunity for girls across the curriculum.

The duties of local education authorities and others under the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 were explained in circular 2/76 (WO 20/76).The broad and balanced education provided by the foundation subjects of the national curriculum is intended to prevent premature specialisation by either boys or girls. The non-statutory subject working groups established to advise on the national curriculum have been asked to bear in mind that the curriculum should provide equal opportunities for boys and girls; and circular 6/89, which accompanied the mathematics and science orders laid under section 4 of the Education Reform Act 1988, advised that it would be particularly important to ensure that boys and girls have equal opportunity and equal encouragement to undertake the full model A science course.The criteria for initial teacher training specify equal opportunities as an example of a cross-curricular dimension that students should be able to incorporate into their teaching by the time they qualify. It is also required that students learn to guard against preconceptions based on gender.Government objectives in this area are also supported by the DE Training Agency-funded technical and vocational education initiative (TVEI). One criterion of TVEI, in which nearly all local education authorities are now involved, is that action will be taken to avoid sex stereotyping both in curriculum options and in teaching and learning styles.