Logo

Camden schoolgirls on frontline of fight against sexism call for feminism to be part of curriculum

PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:50 10 January 2014

Year 12 pupil Phoebe Hamilton-Jones, leader of South Hampstead High School's Fem Soc, with her reason why society needs feminism

Year 12 pupil Phoebe Hamilton-Jones, leader of South Hampstead High School's Fem Soc, with her reason why society needs feminism

Archant

Feminism had become, until relatively recently, a dirty word, a label for women who hated men, had hairy armpits and burned their bras.

But the fight for equal rights along gender lines is suddenly in vogue again, and Camden’s schoolgirls are signing up.

Emily Doyland, 18, Anna Pick, 17, and Alida Haworth, 17, organisers of the Feminist Club at Camden School For Girls. Picture: Polly Hancock Emily Doyland, 18, Anna Pick, 17, and Alida Haworth, 17, organisers of the Feminist Club at Camden School For Girls. Picture: Polly Hancock

In at least three of the borough’s schools, teenagers have set up gender equality societies to raise awareness of women’s issues and to condemn the sexist “lad culture” prevalent among male students.

“I moved from a mixed school to a boys’ school, which was a bit of a culture shock,” said 18-year-old Anna Hill, a pupil at the private University College School (UCS) in Hampstead, which has girls in the sixth form only.

“I had never been to a school where people made rape jokes and then congratulated each other,” she said.

She is a fervent member of the school’s Gender and Politics Society, where around 20 pupils discuss topics such as the connotations of the word ‘b*tch’ and if rape can ever be funny.

While the female members of the society were united in answering the latter question with a firm ‘no’, most of the boys said rape jokes were often hilarious, though they should never be repeated in front of a victim.

“It’s not that bad at UCS though there are things to be working on,” Anna, of Angel, said. “There has definitely been an increase in awareness [of feminist issues].”

She thinks Camden’s students are getting more involved with feminist issues because of the influence of prominent feminists on social 
media, such as The Times columnist and Crouch End-er Caitlin Moran.

State secondary Camden School for Girls, in Sandall Road, Camden Town, has a prominent feminist society, whose past members successfully lobbied their nearest Tesco supermarket to remove “lads’ mags” from the shelves in 2012.

After last year’s reappearance of these magazines, which often show topless or scantily clad women on the front covers, the current members of the sixth-form Feminist Club are urging people to sign a petition to once again get the mags off the shelves at the Tesco branch in Camden Road.

“All girls of our age experience something that makes us feel uncomfortable, like comments on the street or wolf-whistling,” said Feminist Club co-leader Alida Haworth, 17, of Oakley Square, Camden Town. “It’s part of the everyday for every single girl I know.”

Joint leader Anna Pick, 17, of Savernake Road, Gospel Oak, thinks feminism should be part of the national curriculum, to be taught to both genders in their Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons.

“Sexism is ingrained in everyday life and we don’t even realise it sometimes,” she said. “Talking about it is fantastic and I think it would be really good if it were part of the curriculum.”

Helen Pike, headteacher of the independent all-girls South Hampstead High School, which also has a Feminist Society, said schoolgirls and women “were beginning to realise that less has been achieved than we previously thought”.

“It’s about the codification of women and girls and I think it’s also to do with being a teenage girl,” she said. “They’re very aware of the social pressures enforced by society.”

Camden School for Girls deputy headteacher Olivia Camillo said: “I certainly feel that part of the intrinsic ethos of the school is about empowering young people to observe, understand and question the society they live in and to stand up for injustices.

“Many of our girls feel that the term feminist has been somewhat maligned and that, because there are now so many successful women across a range of industries, it is viewed by some as a redundant movement.

“This is obviously not the case, and the Fem Club is particularly interested in engaging with and encouraging discussion, amongst girls and boys, about inequalities which still exist.

“We are very proud of our Fem group here at Camden, and it has become quite a tradition for the head boy in his Founder’s day speech to end by saying ‘I’m proud to call myself a Camden girl’.”

Mandy Watts, acting headteacher of all-girls grammar school Henrietta Barnett in Hampstead Garden Suburb, said: “[Feminism] is not a term that we tend to use explicitly in our general discussions with girls, mainly because we try to avoid using labels and stereotypes, and the term has, unfortunately, gained some negative associations from the contexts in which it was sometimes used in the past.

“However, we have a strong ethos of encouraging our students to find their voice in society, we want to empower them to be confident to take on new challenges, to think for themselves and to be willing to take risks without fearing failure, all of which we know from experience can be challenging for some girls.”

Latest Hampstead Education News

Our Lady of Muswell Hill Primary School is on the up after receiving an upgrade in its Ofsted rating.

A Coldfall Primary School student has been named as the number one ranked under-10s table tennis player in the country.

Greig City Academy students were among dedicated sailors from across the UK who had their endeavours recognised by HRH Princess Anne at the annual Royal Yachting Awards (RYA) ceremony.

Schools have been hard at work in the run up to Christmas to provide as much festive cheer in the community as possible.

There have been some busy elves working away in the run up to Christmas at The Cavendish School.

South Hampstead Junior School pupils have marked 60 years since the school moved into its own separate site at 12 Netherhall Gardens in 1957.

‘The future is bright’ for a crop of Camden youngsters who dazzled judges in a public speaking contest at Regent High School.

Henrietta Barnett School has been named as the UK’s top performing state school in a much-anticipated annual league table released by the Sunday Times.

A success story of one of Archant London’s Student Takeover schemes is encouraging students at City of Westminster College and College of North West London to get involved in a potentially “life-changing” opportunity at the Ham&High.

A young violinist from Archway has described the moment she was accepted into the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) as like “a dream come true”.

A newly-opened redesigned wing at University College School has been dedicated to a headmaster who spent 17 years at the helm in Hampstead.

Camden headteachers have joined forces to highlight the impact of “relentless cuts” in the run-up to Philip Hammond’s budget announcement on Wednesday.

It was packed-out affair at Rokesly Junior School as parents received a lesson on how calmness is key when talking to your children.

Gifted youngsters from across Camden were celebrated at another inspiring Jack Petchey Foundation awards ceremony.

An opportunity of a lifetime has arisen for media-savvy students at City of Westminster College and the College of North West London.

A champion of diversity, a talented dancer and a rising musical star are just three of the youngsters who are set to be recognised at a Camden awards ceremony.

St Anthony’s School for Girls was awash with colour as students celebrated cultures from around the world.

Education editor James Scott speaks to Sarah Creasey about life as headteacher of Parliament Hill School.

“We are not going away,” was the warning shot to politicians in Westminster on Tuesday as parents and students from Haringey and Camden protested against school cuts.

Charitable students at UCS Hampstead have clubbed together to give a mammoth donation to the north Paddington food bank.

Meeting the need for extra school places remains a key priority for Camden, Barnet and Haringey councils, in the face of warnings about a looming shortfall.

Nobody goes to university without knowing they’ll take on debt.

Whizz-kids are giving the older generation a helping hand at Highgate School by running a technology club for ex-students.

The head of English at St Anthony’s School for Boys is a double champion after wining two gold medals at the European Masters Marathon Championships in Poland.

The Mayor of London has been applauded for tackling pollution in Camden after three of the borough’s primary schools were included in the first wave of ‘air quality audits’.

A school expansion has been lauded by Camden Council, despite “teething problems” over travel arrangements around the site.

A tech-savvy Abacus Belsize Park Primary School teacher will be inspiring her pupils this term after spending part of the summer break at a celebrated teaching event in California.

A blogger has been jailed for nine months after harassing parents of children caught up in false allegations of a ‘satanic paedophile ring’ at a Camden school.

Portland Place school headteacher David Bradbury...

A top Highgate independent school is acting as the principle educational sponsor to a state-funded academy which opened its doors in Tottenham on Monday with the chief aim of providing disadvantaged students living in Haringey with a “first class” education.

Following the much anticipated grading changes to GCSEs, three quarters of students at Westminster Academy were celebrating achieving the benchmark grade of a pass at GCSE.

The principal of Greig City Academy has lauded the ‘outstanding’ achievements of his GCSE students, with some of them setting their sights on Oxbridge degrees.

Students collecting their GCSE results across Camden yesterday morning have produced scores that are well above the national average.

Highgate School’s students have risen to the challenge of tougher exams by producing top results, according to headteacher Adam Pettitt.

Hornsey School for Girls have said despite reforms the school has achieved another set of “fantastic” GCSE results.

Students at King Alfred School have bucked the national trend after achieving their strongest raft of A* and A grades for 10 years.

North Bridge House Senior Hampstead students have bucked the national trend after receiving their GCSE exam results this morning.

The UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage celebrated it’s first ever GCSE results day with plenty of students securing impressive grades.

Pupils at South Hampstead High School were celebrating this morning as they collected the school’s best ever GCSE results, with a record-breaking 77.4% of entries awarded the top A* grade (up 13% on 2016) whilst an incredible 94.6% of entries were graded A*/A – another record for the school.

Pupils at top independent school Channing are celebrating after scooping outstanding GCSE results.

The headteacher of top independent University College School has urged the government to stop tinkering with education after the school posted record GCSE results.

Students collecting their GCSEs at Portland Place School this morning had plenty to celebrate, with headteacher David Bradbury lauding their dedication.

Students at Henrietta Barnett School have achieved a record number of top grades in the GCSE results they collected this morning.

If there is one day guaranteed to punctuate the calm of summer it’s likely to be today, when youngsters collect their GCSE results from school.

With pupils across the country anxiously waiting on their GCSE results, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2018 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant