GENDER IN AN INCLUSION AGENDA:
BOYS FIRST, GIRLS FIRST?
Inclusion is a key theme in social and educational policy in Scotland. The more general use of the term 'inclusion' points to a political position that advocates for concerted efforts to combat social and economic disadvantage and to challenge discrimination and exclusion in every sphere of life. In education the concept of 'inclusion' has much to commend it as it is centrally concerned with social justice, fairness and equality. This concept has the benefit of enabling us to appreciate the varied range of social factors such as gender, poverty, disability, sexuality, race and ethnicity that have the cumulative effect of limiting aspiration and opportunities within education. However, we have to balance the need to challenge discrimination and exclusion on a broad front with an appreciation of particular issues related to specific social factors. In this book we consider the questions raised by the specific issue of gender in education and discuss some of the strategies schools and early years' establishments can adopt to raise the achievement of both girls and boys within the overall framework of inclusive education. To do so we draw on a recently completed Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) funded research project (Condie et al., 2005) investigating strategies to address gender inequality in Scottish schools. In this book we draw from a number of case studies and examine critically some of the strategies being adopted currently in schools. We also consider the question of the direction of policy in the complex area of gender and education. In this first chapter we examine some of the issues related to gender inequality by firstly, considering some of the trends in education and then by exploring different approaches to the issue of gender in education.