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The FWSA is really pleased to announce our collaboration with an AHRC funded project ‘Moving Beyond Boundaries: Gender, Knowledge, History’, a student-led skills development programme run by Abigail Tazzyman and Bridget Lockyer from the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York.

With continued debate over the proposed changes to the history curriculum and in light of the recent and successful campaign to have historical women represented on British bank notes, this project will focus on how women’s and gender history is taught in secondary schools.

Engaging with women’s history can be transformative, a way to understand women’s past experiences and to reflect on women’s position in contemporary society. Yet history education, across all levels, is often patchy when it comes to the history of women, with the tendency to focus on one or two well-known (usually elite) female historical figures. The inclusion of women’s history in this way can seem tokenistic, separate from the ‘real history’ being written about and discussed.

Working with a local York school, the project will gauge sixth-form pupil’s perceptions of women’s history. We will train eight postgraduate students, who will use their research expertise to develop and deliver interactive workshops on elements of women’s history not usually explored in schools e.g. the experiences of working class female reformers in the 19th century. We hope that the workshops will give students a greater and more diverse knowledge of women’s history, and will encourage independent thought and critical engagement with their own curriculum.

This project aims to open a dialogue on issues of gender representation and inequality in the school curriculum with researchers who work in this general field. To do this, we will work with the Historical Association (HA), a national organisation of 6000 members who advise on curriculum issues at all levels, informing policy makers and ministers. Both the HA and the FWSA will work closely with the programme organisers to disseminate the project’s findings.

The FWSA hopes to develop and roll-out similar schemes over the next few years, expanding the geographical focus and training more postgraduates. We hope that this pilot will be used as model when developing these future programmes. If you have any ideas or suggestions about this project or future projects please let us know.