Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning: Theory of Change report

This report contains the Theory of Change model and its accompanying narrative. The Theory of Change will help the delivery of the Taskforce’s agreed ambition: to end systemic gender inequality in education and learning.

Short term recommendations

Enabling the Taskforce to lead the work necessary to end systemic gender inequality in education and learning.

Recommendation A1: The Taskforce agrees shared definitions for 'anti-racist', 'intersectional' and 'gender competency' in the context of gender equality in education.

To help the Taskforce stay focused and on the same page it is important that the Taskforce members reach a shared understanding of 'anti-racist' and 'intersectional'. the collective uses the following definitions:

Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. (Kimberlé Crenshaw on Intersectionality, More than Two Decades Later; 2017)

"Anti-racism is a powerful collection of anti racist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracists ideas." How to Be an Antiracist; Ibram X. Kendi (2019) Anti-racist policies and ideas are all those that actively try to dismantle the structural inequality that exists between different races.

Other useful definitions the Taskforce may wish to refer to are:

In terms of education, an intersectional approach means: "understanding the educational processes, systems, structures, policies, and practices that put students, based on their intersecting identities, at increased risk for discrimination, prejudices, and oppression".

And in terms of gender inequality: (Zoe Samudzi) "intersectionality is such a vital framework for understanding systems of power, because 'woman' is not a catchall category that alone defines all our relationships to power". A Black woman may experience misogyny and racism, but she will experience misogyny differently from a white woman and racism differently from a black man.

The Taskforce also needs to agree on how they define gender competency within the education system and develop a framework to assess gender competency across different roles. This could be one of the aims of the working group that unpacks the goal 'children and young people are taught by gender competent, anti-racist education professionals who understand intersecting inequalities.'

Recommendation A2: Agree whether to include the bold and italic text in the three strategic goals as mentioned in the introduction.

Whilst the recommendations from the NACWG are specifically focused on girls and young women, within the workshops it was suggested to include a line around boys and young men. The Taskforce should therefore gain clarity around gender inequality and the differing impacts of inequality and abuse on boys and girls in order to reach a shared understanding of who, what and why this work is targeted.

The Theory of Change approach calls for the identification of specific, targeted, step-by-step changes that together contribute to wider societal change. If it is to drive institutional change, consistent with its strong ambitions, the Taskforce needs to focus on the clear and targeted goals set out in the Theory of Change.

During this project, the facilitators noted that Taskforce members brought varying knowledge, language and experience around gender inequality. Those representing organisations working on equalities had more knowledge about gender inequality and its impact on girls, women and society as a whole, and had a larger vocabulary to articulate what intersectional leadership could look like and how it could be developed and supported. These members were also more likely to be vocal in the workshops and were often making links to wider societal issues that have an impact on schools and learning experiences.

Taskforce members representing education services and teachers had more knowledge and experience about what was happening within schools and what could be the most appropriate levers for change within schools as well as the supporting infrastructure.

Bringing together these insights from across Education and Equalities groups on intersectionality and knowledge on the levers for change would have a large impact on being able to enact change.

Recommendation A3: Use intersectional and antiracist practises to grow the Taskforce into a coherent group, equipped to deliver its Theory of Change.

A fundamental principle of intersectional leadership is that we recognise our own personal power and privilege. Each member of the Taskforce comes with their own expertise, and one of the ways for the Taskforce to share this expertise would be to facilitate knowledge sharing within and across the Taskforce in the form of facilitated discussions and/or presentations on individual's areas of knowledge. This will enable the Taskforce to come together more effectively as a group, rather than as a group of individuals.

In order to ensure that the Taskforce itself models anti-racist and gender equal practice in leadership, it's important that those with lived experience are able to deeply engage and lead conversations around intersectional leadership. The Taskforce could therefore explore not only actively recruiting members of the Taskforce from minoritised groups, but also co-develop a shared group agreement to support engagement.

This may include reflecting on whose perspectives are included, whose are missing and considering critically why they are missing. This will also include securing both personal and Taskforce commitment from white members of the group to actively and consistently work to challenge their privilege. This may be through active listening, monitoring their own air time and taking the time to learn outwith Taskforce meetings.

Recommendation A4: Re-evaluate the membership of the Taskforce and widen the membership to include other stakeholders, in line with agreed activities.

Facilitators from the collective believe that there are gaps within the membership of the Taskforce, for example, there is no body that represents or speaks directly to head teachers. Given that a large number of our medium goal recommendations centre around leadership development for intersectional gender equality in schools, we recommend that the Taskforce re-evaluates if it has all of the organisations around the table to make its Theory of Change a reality. We also recommend that Taskforce members reflect on their ability to be part of this work in either a delivery or advisory capacity, agreeing the scope and depth of their individual and organisational role.

Recommendation A5: The Taskforce collaborates with other organisations and/or groups that work with girls and young women in schools, to better understand their experiences and identify their ideas for change and have those ideas and experiences inform the Taskforce's outputs.

The current membership of the Taskforce has two members to represent the views of young people. To strengthen the young people's voices, we recommend that the Taskforce work with other organisations and/or groups that work with girls and young women in schools to find out and give feedback to the Taskforce on their experiences and ideas for change.

Recommendation A6: A permanent chair is appointed to drive forward the recommendations in this report and, in the short term, they focus on building clear consensus between Taskforce members on the goals and outcomes detailed in its Theory of Change.

Going forward it is paramount that the Taskforce has a clear chair that is able to keep the Taskforce focused on the scope set out in its Theory of Change. This will help the Taskforce members to be clear about their roles and contributions to the Taskforce's programme of work. One recommendation is that the Taskforce members organise around two co-chairs, with one person representing equalities organisations and one person representing Education.

Recommendation A7: The Taskforce agrees a framework of guiding questions to, on an ongoing basis, support activity identification and to test assumptions about what works.

The Theory of Change method works best when there are regular times of reflection built into each step and action. We recommend that the Taskforce build its own framework of guiding questions to help ensure that each action it takes achieves the maximum impact towards the ultimate objective of ending systemic gender inequality in schools. The process of asking reflection questions happens in two parts. The first part will open up the activities being considered and will widen the range of ideas for the Taskforce to consider. The second part is about determining the most critical, immediate, and realistic action that can be taken. This is a natural widening and focusing that brings transparency and shared understanding to members within the Taskforce.

We have provided some starter questions to be considered by the Taskforce: What problem is this action working to resolve?

  • Are we approaching this problem through an intersectional and anti-racist lens?
  • What assumptions are we making about how this action will help? How can we test if our assumptions are shared by other stakeholders?
  • Do we have everyone that we need to take forward this action? If not, whose perspective is missing? And what links do we have to stakeholders regarding this action?
  • Are there any current policy links to this action? If so, what are they?
  • What sort of resource is needed to see this action through? What resources are currently available and how do we know this?
  • How will we know if our intended action has been successful? What monitoring and evaluation frameworks are we putting in place?
  • What are the Taskforce members' own personal and organisational spheres of influence that are relevant to achieving this action? And what are they, as a Taskforce member, able to do to support the action?



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