TAKING GENDER FORWARD
Rae Condie, Christine Forde and George Head
This focus of this book has been to place the strategies and approaches adopted by Pre Five and schools to tackle the issue of gender inequality in Scottish schools in a wider context of debates about gender in education. The first issue explored in Chapter 2 was the development of policy on gender and education in Scotland which revealed a huge diversity, with some Local Authorities having explicit policies on gender while others subsumed the issue of gender equality within broader set of policies on inclusive education. As we discussed earlier, there is considerable merit in linking the question of gender to other factors such as social class, race, sexuality and disability which can have a cumulative effect in limiting the opportunities and aspirations of learners within education. However, we also need to concern ourselves with the specific issues that relate to gender, and that in seeking to address these issues we should consider the fundamental question of the ideological construction of gender underpinning polices and practices in education. A concern that arises from the research is the issue of a searching interrogation of the impact of gender (and its intersection with other social factors) in creating barriers to learning and achievement. Policy and many of the practices we examined arise from questions posed by the broad gender patterns evident in national examinations and other attainment data, but such data masks more complex issues in the area of gender and education. The question of literacy is an example of where broad gender differentiated patterns are not explored critically.
There is no doubt about the significance of the development of literacy in overall achievement. Literacy has become a gendered issue within education with the lower attainment of boys in reading and writing, and various projects have been established to encourage boys to read and to support parents, fathers in particular, to read with their sons. These projects have been designed not only to raise attainment but to look at some wider