Welsh students are to be controversially refused the opportunity to do Feminism (Women’s Studies) in exams, after ceremonies were held marking women getting the vote 100 years ago, while in England the male minister responsible intervened to restore it to the syllabus, we can disclose.
Students with the Welsh exam body WJEC will not be given the chance to study feminism and its importance to politics in Wales from this September.
The departments of two female politicians in Cardiff bay are central to endorsing the contentious decision – the Welsh Government Education Minister Kirsty Williams, and Baroness Eluned Morgan of Ely, the Welsh Government Minister for the Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning.
They both run offices that will be overseeing the changes in post-16 education this September.
The fact that today is International Women’s Day (IWD) gives the controversy added force.
England had planned to go the way of Wales, but in January 2016 the Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced a change of heart after a public outcry over the lack of female thinkers in the draft politics syllabus proposals.
He said the final content of the A-level politics course would give students “the opportunity to study the core ideas of feminism”.
This was not something that Welsh ministers apparently took into account before announcing changes in Wales to the new specification.
In Wales there is now only one diluted reference reference to feminism in the WJEC A-level Government and Politics syllabus: “The Women’s Movement and the Environmental Movement as examples of social movements”.
The shock decision to axe Feminism comes at the same time that 100th anniversary celebrations of women getting the vote across the UK were held.
But the Welsh Government (WG) pressed ahead regardless.
They have also removed the study of ‘Multiculturalism’ from the specification.
The earlier Welsh syllabus “For teaching from 2010” stressed: “Students should be aware that society is made up of a range of different groups from varied social, cultural and religious backgrounds. Political decisions are influenced by the ethics and moral and cultural values of the groups and their governments”.
This allowed students to study the two major modules on Feminism and Multiculturalism but these will now no longer exist.
Yet both Ms Williams and Baroness Morgan have strong credentials in fighting on women’s issues.
On her official website, Baroness Morgan boasts about the importance of women role models in industry.
She says: “A lack of exposure to female role models coupled with the perception of engineering as being a masculine profession, means that girls drop relevant subjects after GCSE, so it’s really important that we do our utmost to encourage young girls to continue with studies that can lead to high quality and highly paid employment”.
Ms Williams also backed women’s rights as she launched change in the Welsh education system.
She said when she took up her role: “What I’m more worried about is that we will talk the talk and get to 2021 and won’t be doing anything significantly different”.
Ms Williams is certainly doing something different now – by dropping Feminism from exams.
Tomorrow – Edwin Phillips reads a Press Release proclaiming the ‘success’ of BBC Wales Investigates, after it broadcast only one programme so far this year.