Feminism to be included in A-level politics syllabus


Feminism will be included in the A-level politics syllabus, schools minister Nick Gibb said, after campaigners criticised the Government for dropping all references to the movement from its new draft curriculum.

The Tory minister said all politics students would be given "the opportunity to study the core ideas of feminism" and exam boards were already making changes to the final content.

Mr Gibb admitted the Government did not properly recognise the role of female political thinkers in its draft plans - with Mary Wollstonecraft the sole voice - and said more women would now be included in the course content.

His comments followed an outcry over proposals to teach three core political ideologies - socialism, liberalism and conservatism - but to drop feminism as a named topic.

Education Secretary and equalities minister Nicky Morgan intervened personally to make the change after a consultation on the plans revealed widespread opposition to plans, he indicated.

During a Commons debate on the issue, Mr Gibb said: "We recognise that the work of female political thinkers was not given due weight in the draft content and the final content will set out clearly those female political thinkers whose work should be studied.

"Suggestions have included Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt, Rosa Luxemburg, to name but a few.

"Feminism is an optional area of study in current specifications.

"It was never our intention to exclude the study of feminism from the reformed A-level and we said we would listen to the consultation which opened on November 3 and closed on December 15.

"And we've seen the strength of feeling of those who have responded to the consultation about this issue and indeed the Secretary of State for Education, who is also the minister for women and equalities has also taken a close interest in this issue.

"Following the consultation on the politics A-level exam boards are making changes to the final content to respond to the concerns raised and we will publish our response shortly but I can assure you that the final politics A-level will give all students the opportunity to study the core ideas of feminism."

Mr Gibb was responding to Labour's Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton), who said the original decision sent a "toxic" message at a time when the movement still had great importance, considering the wide gender imbalance in politics.

Ms Huq pointed out that only 29.4% of MPs were female and school groups she took on tours in Parliament always asked about the lack of women.

Opening the debate, she said: "This proposed syllabus implies that women do not belong in politics and that their contributions are not significant.

"It's a toxic message and it's been condemned roundly by loads of people, including the Girl Guides - you wouldn't think that they are a radical dangerous group usually.

"This mooted rewriting of history is nothing short of sinister, it's deleting women."