In 2016, a study in London asked school children to draw a firefighter, a surgeon and a fighter pilot, and give them a name. The group produced 61 pictures of men, and only 5 pictures of women. Earlier this year, when teachers at The Mount School in York asked their children in Reception through to Year 2 to draw a firefighter and give their drawn person a name, they were delighted to see that 80% of the pictures drawn were of a woman firefighter. In both scenarios, the children’s choice for gender was completely unprompted. Why are children at The Mount School so likely to see women in those roles?
“The girls are part of a whole learning culture where whatever they do, be it in or out of the classroom, School Council or any of the student committees, their leaders and role models are older girls. They know that girls can do anything because they see it around them in their environment, every minute of every day,” says Rachel Capper, Head of The Mount Junior School.
As they develop socially and academically, the girls are nurtured by a team of primary-specialist professionals who truly understand the mindset of girls. Staff teach the girls in a way that they instinctively learn, they are leaders in understanding girls and their needs.
“The staff encourage the girls to feel that they can take risks, that it’s okay for them to stand up and articulate what they want to say without the fear of getting it wrong,” says Rachel. “By feeling confident to take such risks, their learning can stretch beyond the boundaries of the traditional curriculum.”
“We are incredibly fortunate to have fantastic facilities and access to the access to our Senior School’s impressive resources,” explains Rachel. “But that’s not what makes The Mount Junior School so unique for York’s parents. The entire focus of the school is that “girls can”. That’s what we do.”
A study investigating why girls drop out of sport and physical activity from the age of 7 at a faster rate than boys found that, from the ages of 7-8, gender stereotypes are already beginning to appear at school. Being exposed to gender stereotypes early on can have a profoundly restrictive effect on children. It is perhaps counter-intuitive to claim that gender stereotypes are eradicated in a single-sex school, but the evidence is undeniable. Girls at The Mount don’t just have equal opportunity: they have every opportunity. By not needing to compete on gender inside or outside of the classroom, girls learn naturally to participate, influence and lead.
The Mount’s 2018 inspection report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate noted, “Pupils lead conversations, respond well to the frequent use of open questions in teaching and are encouraged to celebrate mistakes as part of their learning journey. Pupils display excellent social skills and awareness of others. They support and encourage each other frequently and unselfconsciously.”
A current parent says, “The Mount provides everything our girls need, a creative and beautiful atmosphere with excellent teaching in stunning surroundings – my girls are growing up to be who they want to be. I wish I was a Mount girl!”
The Mount is York’s only all-girl school from the ages of 2-18 years. A Quaker school, The Mount’s ethos promotes the values of peace, equality, truth, simplicity and social justice. To find out more, visit The Mount School’s website