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Leek High School breaks down gender barriers

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: January 27, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

  • Leek High A Level Maths students Claudia Hulmes and Hannah Gordon.

  • Students Dan Bentley and Ben Critchlow.

  • Female students from the Leek High AS Level class for Maths.

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LEEK High School has been named one of the top schools in the country for breaking down gender barriers.

Research from the Institute of Physics (IOP) has placed the Springfield Road secondary school among the top 28 out of more than 2,500 schools with sixth forms for overcoming gender imbalances in subjects such as Maths and Physics, which are traditionally more popular with boys.

Headteacher John Spencer said: "We are delighted with the findings from the Institute of Physics.

"Here at Leek High we focus on the needs and abilities of the students, not their gender.

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"We work hard to remove barriers to learning for all our youngsters and it is very rewarding to earn such positive recognition from such a nationally important group such as the IOP."

The report investigates six subjects.

Physics, Maths and Economics that show a male bias and Biology, English and Psychology that show a female bias.

Forty-nine percent of all state schools were found to be failing to address gender stereotyped choices in at least four of these six subjects. The results demonstrate that many girls and boys are being denied opportunities.

But this is not true of Leek High, which is part of the Leek Federation, where numbers are bucking the trend.

Maths teacher Allan Hetherington, who has a full class of A Level students with as many girls as boys choosing the subject, said: "We have never treated girls and boys any differently at Leek High School. I don't see any reason that boys should be better at Maths than girls."

One of his students, Hannah Gordon, aged 17, has just been offered a place at Cambridge to study Maths at degree level after opting for Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics in her A Levels. Hannah said: "I have always been interested in Maths as a subject and hope eventually to build a career in finance."

Fellow student Claudia Hulmes said: "The Maths department here at Leek High is really good and we get a lot of support from our teachers. Girls and boys are always treated as equals and the after school maths group here helps us if we are struggling with any of our work. We meet each Thursday evening and there's a group for GCSE students too."

On the flip side of the coin, boys at Leek High are just as likely as girls to opt for Arts subjects. Dan Bentley, aged 17, is studying English, Art and History. He said: "I have always been more creative and I think that English is my strongest subject. I have been offered a place to study it at Reading University."

Ben Critchlow opted to study Biology – traditionally biased towards females – alongside his Maths, Physics and History A Levels. He said: "Whatever subject you choose at Leek High, the teaching staff are there to support you and are always willing to help you outside of school hours."

Professor Peter Main, Director of Education and Science at the Institute of Physics, said: "We congratulate Leek High on their success. Schools around the country could learn a lot from their practice in this area."

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