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Two Lanarkshire Primary Schools have come out on top in a national competition aimed at busting gender myths.

Woodside Primary in Hamilton and Dunrobin Primary in Airdrie beat 170 other entries to take the top spots in the Improving Gender Balance Scotland competition, which asked pupils for their thoughts on gender stereotypes.

Dunrobin Primary pupils Katie Wright and Craig Friend scooped the Primary 4-7 group with a letter to a major card company asking them to produce less stereotypically boy and girl cards.

The pupils were unhappy with the lack of choice and ‘blue for boys, pink for girls’ split in stores.

They conducted an online survey at school which found nearly 60% of girls preferred blue to pink and more than half would choose a Marvel character over Barbie. It also showed nearly 60% of boys asked liked dancing.

The pupils used the figures to urge the company to rethink its designs and make it easier to personalise cards in store, saying it would likely increase their profits.

Katie said: “We started this competition on my birthday as I was fed up of getting girly cards because I don’t like flowery, pink cards and stuff like that. We were so happy that we won.”

Craig said: “We were excited, we didn’t think we would win it.”

Emma Clark, P7 teacher at Dunrobin said: “The pupils absolutely loved doing this, the whole class loved doing it. It’s raised awareness throughout the school as well on gender equality. As their class teacher I’m just so proud of them and everything they’ve achieved for themselves and for the school as a whole.”

Woodside Primary won the Primary 1-3 category with a poster by sisters Rebekah and Melissa Goddard highlighting the issue of stereotyping called ‘Is this wrong or are we making it wrong?’.

Their fellow pupil Macy Murray was given a special mention for her poster ‘Hand prints’.

Rebekah said the win was unexpected: ““I was surprised. I was happy.”

Gillian Reilly, Science Teacher at Woodside, said: “I saw the competition advertised and it was one that jumped out at me right away because I felt it was something I could really work with the children on, get some good activities, get some good conversations out of them and it seemed to work really well. Well done to the girls for doing so well with it and their parents for allowing them to participate in it.”

Runners up in Primary 1-3 category were Kenmore Primary School in Perth and Kinross and in the Primary 4-7 category, Glencairn Primary School in Ayrshire took second spot.

Kenmore Primary 3 pupils designed a play house for boys and girls called Ganghut.

Primary 3 pupil Caitlin Johnston, said: “We learned to argue in a nice way about gender stereotyping, sharing ideas in our group about what would be fair and then we put them all together in our report for the competition. We have learned to argue with the idea and not the person. We even did a dragons' den pitch in class and won!”

Richard Brocklehurst, teacher at Kenmore Primary School, said: “The pupils are overjoyed to be runners up in the competition. I’ve been impressed with the deep, collaborative discussion the pupils have had in the classroom looking at gender stereotyping, and how nuanced, thoughtful and well argued their contributions were. It’s helped the children develop skills in debating, team working, research and analysis.”

Glencairn Primary pupil Liam McCann designed a poster which called for an end to stereotyping.

The winning schools were presented with their trophies and vouchers for Letterbox Library, which provides books celebrating equality and diversity.

Charlotte Govan, Project Officer for Improving Gender Balance Scotland helped judge the competition, she said: “It’s clear from the huge number of entries to the competition we had from schools across Scotland that gender stereotyping is an issue primary school pupils are really aware of and are taking action to tackle.

“All of us judging were impressed by the standard and variety of the entries, and we want to thank all the schools who took time to take part.

“We hope all the schools involved will continue to explore this issue by using Improving Gender Balance Scotland’s online resources to empower the whole school to address issues of stereotyping that can affect young people throughout school and beyond.”

Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland was also a judge.

She said:  “The entries were massively impressive, from poetry to board games, the imagination and creativity used by these pupils was a pleasure to see and I hope that we can learn from them on how to challenge and end gender stereotyping.”

Improving Gender Balance Scotland is a partnership between Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Education Scotland challenging ideas that some school subjects are ‘just for girls’ or ‘just for boys’.

The project’s officers are working to empower pupils, teachers, parents and local authorities to address the complex issues that can lead to stereotyping when it comes to picking school subjects, and supporting them to challenge traditional career choices.


Find out more about Improving Gender Balance Scotland.

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