How to be more inclusive in your school [interview]

Graham Andre

Graham is a primary school teacher working on the Isle of Wight. Most recently Graham was seen working with his class on the (now BAFTA nominated!) BBC2 documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free’. Through this documentary, he has been invited to speak on national TV and live events to talk about its impact and his role with The GEC. Graham has always worked in the education sector, starting as a teaching assistant and having various roles before doing a part-time degree and completing his GTP six years ago.

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For those working in education and have not heard of the shell-suit wearing, #PrimaryRocks, BAFTA-nominated BBC documentary legend that is Graham Andre, shame on you! A Primary school teacher from the Isle of Wight, Graham has been jetted into the consciousness of thousands of educators through his passion for inclusion and progression. Nicole Ponsford, co-founder of the Gender Equality Collective, caught up with Graham and asked him to share his tips.

NP: What have you learnt since doing the BBC documentary, No More Boys and Girls?

GA: To be totally honest, before taking part in the documentary I had little knowledge of gender stereotypes and the impact these can have on our children. I wasn't aware that the girls felt inferior to boys, and that pressure on boys impacts on their mental health and wellbeing. It is important that we as adults, and especially those that work with children, are aware of outside influences from home, advertising, toys, etc and make children aware of it.

NP: What are your top tips for schools?

GA: Be careful of the language you use around your children. Do you use terms of endearment? Do you find yourself addressing boys more than girls? What are your expectations? Try to avoid separating children because of gender by having girl and boy lines, or choosing boys for manual tasks. Talk to your children about stereotypes and the impact they can have. Look at toy advertising, catalogues, media. Get children passionate about it, we have an excellent opportunity with the new PSHE curriculum including the teaching of gender stereotypes. Lastly, look at your curriculum - are you including a good mix of male and female role models across the curriculum? For more help, please see Emma Turner and Nic’s GEC: Curriculum Design Guide.

NP: What are the outcomes for students when it comes to being more inclusive?

GA: We want our students to have a choice, we want them to feel they can be whatever they want to be, or try whatever they want to try without being restricted by stereotypes. We want our girls to be confident in their own abilities and to be able to speak out when they feel something, or someone, is wrong. We want our boys to be able to talk about their feelings, to know that it is normal to cry and this may impact on the number of young men taking their own lives.

NP: This question is more for me. You are our founding member. Why are you proud of being in The GEC?

GA: When the documentary first aired, I wasn't aware of the amount of passionate people that want to make a change with regards to stereotypes, and then through Twitter, my talks around the country and emails, etc - my network grew. 

When I was asked to be part of The GEC I was thrilled, I really want to help make a change and the GEC have the right attitude, desire and drive to do this. I didn't want the documentary to be just an ‘of the moment’ thing; I want it to help change attitudes, and being part of the GEC will help with that. I am so excited for the future and what we have planned. I will always be thankful to yourself and Cat for asking me to join the GEC and to everyone at Outline Productions, but especially Helen Veale for asking me to be part of their documentary and for changing my life forever.

Graham can also change your life forever! In our GECBestBooks, Graham has kindly created some awesome FREE activities for schools and homes around some of the most popular inclusive and cool books on offer!

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