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Everyone’s Invited: Why we’re not surprised about the #MeToo movement in UK schools

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 April 2021

Jessica Ringrose, Ruth Eliot, Sophie Whitehead, Amelia Jenkinson, Kaitlynn Mendes & Tanya Horeck.

In recent weeks, allegations of peer-on peer sexual violence in schools, colleges and universities across the UK have been hailed as a ‘#Metoo’ moment for young people. The scale and severity of survivors’ testimonies has sparked shock and outrage amongst the commentariat, news media, parents and many education professionals.

We are a feminist consortium of sex educators – who spend a lot of time talking about sex, relationships, consent and intimacy in school – and academics who have been researching gender, education and social justice for decades. We are not surprised by the testimonies submitted to Everyone’s Invited, and really, no one should be. Not just because teenage girls everywhere have been demanding change for years. Or because just back in 2016, a Women and Equalities Committee inquiry revealed endemic sexual harassment in UK schools. But also because we must recognise that schools are a microcosm of society, including rape culture.

Part of the reason for the shocked response, we believe, is because listening to survivor testimonies forces us to (more…)

Banning porn won’t work. So how can we best support young people’s digital intimacies?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 April 2019

Jessica Ringrose, Amelia Jenkinson and Sophie Whitehead.

In recent weeks, conversation has been reignited around the UK’s porn block for under 18s. The plan to prevent teens from accessing porn has been long delayed, but the government recently reiterated that it is soon to come into effect.

Concerns have focused primarily on privacy: there is a particular danger that data breaches and data mining could occur because users will have to submit identity data so their age can be verified. The dilemmas for children and their parents and carers are vast.

But many experts who advocate for young people’s online rights and digital literacy do not believe that simply banning porn or mobile technologies will solve anything. Rather (more…)

10 years on: why we still need better sex education for the digital world

Blog Editor, IOE Digital17 March 2019

 

Jessica Ringrose with Amelia Jenkinson and Sophie Whitehead of Sexplain. 

Last month new guidance  for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education for England was put out for consultation by the Department for Education. This draft statutory guidance is intended to upgrade the nearly twenty-year-old previous advice from the year 2000. eb-digital-2-e1552856549265

It highlights the current challenges of the digital context and the essential fact that “for many young people the distinction between the online world and other aspects of life is less marked than for some adults” (page 9). This is referenced throughout, in the context of healthy relationships, respectful behaviour and consent. The importance of digital literacy skills is emphasised for both primary and secondary (see paragraphs 58, 62 and ‘Online and Media’ section of secondary table, p28).

While I (Jessica Ringrose) told the New York Times last month that the guidelines looked promising and, “It will be really great if they will be able to tackle all these issues” we, the three authors of this blog post, remain concerned that there are serious omissions and that the guidelines fail to address important (more…)

Priorities for a new government: advice from our academics part 2

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 May 2017


The IOE blog has asked colleagues from across the Institute what’s at the top of their wish list. We are publishing their replies during the run-up to the election.
Primary Education
The new government should take a new approach to primary education that sees this stage as a unique time in children’s lives. This will require them to look again at the purposes of primary education.
The current statutory assessment system is not fit for assessing children’s learning and needs radical change. The government should:

  • Move to national sampling.
  • Abolish the current SPAG test and phonics screening test and replace with more appropriate measures.

When it comes to the National Curriculum, the government should: (more…)

A feminist manifesto for education: gender equality has a long way to go

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 September 2016

Miriam E David. 
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is now very much on the public agenda. It is even addressed through the BBC’s Radio 4’s Archers programme: the case about domestic violence in the Titchner family is arousing great interest in how such issues of sexual abuse are treated in the family, the law and politics.
Yet these questions are still not usually addressed in schools and are not routinely on the curriculum. Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is still not a compulsory component of the curriculum. This week the Commons Select Committee on Women and Equalities exposed the ‘shocking’ scale of sexual harassment and sexual violence that is not being tackled effectively in English schools. The committee recommended that high quality relationships and sex education for every child should be made statutory and that schools should be judged by Ofsted on how well incidents of sexual violence and harassment are recorded, monitored and prevented. There is also currently an online feminist campaign (more…)

Consenting or consuming? What kind of sexuality is 50 Shades of Grey selling to young women?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 March 2015

Emilie Lawrence and Jessica Ringrose
On 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day – a day to reflect on just how far we have come in achieving equality. This presents a good opportunity to discuss how the intricacies of sexual and emotional relationships are navigated in two of the biggest blockbuster films and novels in recent times – 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight. These representations raise questions over how we engage in a meaningful dialogue with young people about sexuality in a world where stories like these reign supreme
From toilet rolls to sex toys, 50 Shades of Grey spin-offs show that the support for the trilogy has been huge and the backlash even bigger. The book has been criticised for romanticising domestic violence, mental health issues, and for its childish repertoire of words used to describe body parts, experiences and sex. But the pressing question about the enormous success of the book trilogy and now the first instalment of the movie is why now?
Why during a period of proclaimed postfeminist equality for women and girls in education, work, and the public sphere do (more…)