What next?

What next? Is a question that I and many others ruminated on throughout this past year. The pandemic and various lockdowns had given me more time to think and consider than any other time in my adult life. Despite sometimes feeling busier than ever, my ‘what next?’ just wouldn’t subside. After nearly twenty years working within Primary and Early Years settings as a teacher, leader and advisor I knew I was ready for change. I always felt very privileged throughout my career to have the ability to make a difference, whether that was with an individual child, families, colleagues or across wider organisations. I knew my ‘what next?’ needed to be bigger and bolder than before. The Lifting Limits job advertisement was passed onto me by a friend, with an accompanying, ‘you’d be mad not to apply for this’. After a rigorous and strangely enjoyable recruitment process, I am delighted to introduce myself as Head of Education for the charity.  

What next for gender equality? Post-pandemic, our work at Lifting Limits feels as important as ever. Perhaps I have already become hyper- attuned to the topic of gender in the media, but I see it everywhere and within everything. Today, as I write this blog post, I have read that mothers of brides and grooms will be added to marriage certificates for the first time in England and Wales. Last week, I read research from the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) alongside Instagram, that found almost half of UK men say poor body image has affected their mental health. What next? I’m not sure, but even in my short time in role, I am heartened to have already connected with a multitude of organisations and individuals that are striving for a change for good. I look forward to working with a range of schools, early years providers and organisations to lay the foundations for gender equality from the earliest years. 

What next for schools and other educational settings? I currently still work as a school leader in a South London Primary. In a recent meeting we asked, ‘what next for us as a school?’ What have we learnt over the past year that we’d like to hold onto? What would we rather forget? What do we prioritise? What will have to take a back seat? I hope that schools and settings, post-pandemic, continue to see the worth of keeping gender on the agenda in classrooms. The argument for academic catch-up programmes is strong, but I hope that school leaders can see that if we let the gender equality clock slip backwards, harmful gender stereotypes mean that all children’s learning and future outcomes potentially suffer. 

What next for Lifting Limits? One of the things that attracted me to apply for a role at Lifting Limits (apart from the obvious nudge from a friend) was the charity’s vital importance and clear capacity to enact change. I am delighted to already be working on a number of exciting projects and particularly pleased to be returning to my Early Years roots and writing resources that complement the revised Early Years curriculum. I am writing and adapting new ‘grab and go’ materials for all Key Stages and I will continue to thread gender education opportunities throughout the whole curriculum. Please continue to spread the word about Lifting Limits and do get in touch to see how we can support your organisation with gender equality education. 

Whatever your ‘what next?’ brings, I wish you all the best.

Marriage certificate to include mothers’ names in England and Wales

Body Talks: Let’s talk about male body image