PSHE Tweets of the week nital mutilation
torture of young girls, to fulfil a role in a twisted patriarchal society of a virgin and wife. “Can you imagine the headline in the UK if a young
girl in London was pinned down and had her genitals cut off with a dirty razor and then stitched up leaving a matchstick-sized hole. Every day this happens. Every day a young girl has her rights stolen from her. She is tortured and left mutilated. FGM is torture and it has to be stopped.” Julie Christie-Webb, head of UK programmes at
Forward, has found schools only discuss FGM if a pupil or teacher specifically expresses an interest. She explained: “There is no requirement to integrate
it into the curriculum. It is very much up to the individual school. We do get teachers coming to us for help and we do go in to schools and we can offer resource packs. “We did some work recently at Hornsey School for
Girls in Haringey, north London, with a group of year 11 girls who took on FGM as a campaigning issue.” Ms Christie-Webb believes it is important for all
young people to understand and have a knowledge of FGM and why it happens. She added: “I would like to see it taught as part of SRE. It would be helpful if the government gave direction to schools on how to address it in the curriculum.” Last year, the government brought out multi-agency
guidelines on FGM. “But unfortunately”, Ms Christie-Webb continued,
“this hasn’t been backed up by any training for teachers. Teachers are often worried they will be accused of being racist if they address FGM so they don’t take any action. It is important to see it as child abuse rather than a cultural activity.”
SecEd • Sue Learner is a freelance education journalist.
Further information Cut – Some Wounds Never Heal can be downloaded free at www.kidstaskforce.com/watchover-fgm.html
(it is accompanied by a teachers’ resource pack to support teachers to deliver a lesson on FGM). For more on the work of Forward, visit www.forwarduk.org.uk
This week: Michael Gove wants to see a new computer science GCSE by September after labelling the current ICT curriculum ‘dull’ and ‘harmful‘. The new GCSE could even make the EBacc, he claims.
“I hope this does not affect students who have just chosen their options. Difficult enough with all the last-
minute changes.” @katemasters67
“Do you really think computer studies sits with history, Latin et al as comfortable or useful bedfellows? Where is the
“Thank you Michael Gove. Bye bye ICT that was. It’s been special. Hello Computer
Science. Kids will rejoice.” @Ian_Livingstone
“I wouldn’t want to be teaching Year 9 ICT today: ‘but Miss, even the Secretary
of State says it’s boring’.” @schoolduggery
You can follow SecEd on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SecEd_Education
A number of girls at the Lilian Baylis School in
Kennington, south London, have been victims of FGM and deputy headteacher, Elga Stuck, is doing her utmost to raise awareness among both pupils and staff. She explained: “We are now holding lessons on
the reality of FGM and we will continue to work hard within the school to educate pupils and teachers about the dangers of FGM. Any teachers who want to come and see what we do or talk to us about FGM can contact me through the school.” In extreme cases, FGM can result in death as a
result of bleeding, infection and shock. Due to the small opening, it can be very difficult for women to pass urine and menstrual blood and can lead to fatal complications in child birth. Ms Stuck has found that for pupils who have been
victims of FGM, simple things like going to the toilet can be a very painful procedure. “If they have to go to the toilet during the lesson, it can sometimes take them half an hour as it hurts so much,” she added. Last year, a group of girls at the school produced a
film to raise awareness of FGM. The film, Cut – Some Wounds Never Heal, features Somali model Waris Dirie, a victim of FGM. It is aimed at girls aged 11 to 17. The Metropolitan Police financed the project along
with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and charity Kids Taskforce and it is available as a free download to all schools. A spokeswoman for the Kids Taskforce, which
campaigns for child safety, told SecEd: “The film was produced because many schools were asking for information and support on the issue as teachers are
dealing with pupils who are suffering severe physical and psychological problems as a result of being cut.” Ms Stuck has used the film made by some of her
pupils to train staff at the school. During the training, she found many teachers did not
realise FGM was taking place here in Britain and were shocked when they discovered there were children at the school with FGM. The practice was outlawed in Britain in 1985 and
taking children out of the country to have it performed was made illegal in 2003. It is punishable by 14 years in jail, but no-one has
yet been convicted, partly because it is a hidden crime and a taboo subject in practising communities. There are huge pressures on families
and communities for girls to have FGM. Some countries see it as a condition of marriage
and see women as unhealthy or unclean if they do not have FGM. Kathryn Llewellyn, co-founder of Postitive
Women, a charity working both in the UK and Swaziland, would like to see more schools raising awareness of this issue. She said: “It’s so important that young people in the
UK understand the challenges that face other young people across the globe. It’s particularly important with an issue such as FGM, as many young girls are taken back to their home countries for this barbaric practice to take place and it has to be stopped. “Female genital mutilation symbolises all that is
wrong in the world. It is an outdated practice that hides behind religion and culture to defend what is systematic
The charity Forward, which campaigns against FGM, says teachers concerned that a student is at risk of or has undergone FGM, should look out for signs such as: •
A family which belongs to a community in which FGM is practised making
preparations for the child to take a holiday, arranging vaccinations or a planned absence from school. The child may also talk about a “special procedure/ceremony” that is going to take place. •
Signs that FGM may already have taken place include prolonged absence from
school, with the child’s behaviour changing on their return, and long periods away from classes or other normal activities, possibly with bladder or menstrual problems. •
Some teachers have described how children find it difficult to sit still and look
uncomfortable or may complain of pain between their legs or talk of something somebody did to them that they are not allowed to talk about.
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SecEd • January 19 2012
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